When a college program losses a head coach, the fear of losing incoming recruits is real.
The University of Jamestown former girls basketball head coach Greg Ulland resigned in 2018 to become the school’s Vice President of Enrollment Management.
Not long after the Jimmies announced Thad Sankey — former Concordia (Mich.) University head coach — as their new head coach.
Rugby standout basketball player Anni Stier got to know Ulland through the North Dakota Phenom as he served as the AAU’s head coach.
But when Ulland stepped down, Stier wasn’t going to de-commit from the Jimmies.
"When I first heard they (UJ) were getting a new coach I was a little disappointed I wouldn’t get to play for Ulland again,” Stier told the North Dakota Basketball Hub earlier this week.
“But when I meet the new coach Sankey I knew he would be just as awesome. He was super welcoming and he was really excited to be at Jamestown.”
Stier helped Rugby to a 22-5 record this season and a runner-up finish at the Class B state tournament.
The Panthers lost to Kindred 49-47 in the state title game as Stier finished with 12 points, four assists and three steals. The 5-foot-5 guard averaged 14.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3 steals and 2.5 assists per game for her senior year.
“I don’t have much of a height advantage so being strong and quick will be a big part of my game,” she added.
“I look forward to developing a quicker shot and improving my ball handling skills. Playing at the next level will give me the chance to improve my game.”
Stier had a tough decision to make but UJ made that choice much easier. They offered her the opportunity to play both basketball and track.
“(They) made me feel confident that I would be able to pursue both,” Stier said. “They have great coaches and staff that helped me make my decision.”
Stier always wanted to be a college student-athlete but didn’t feel confident before her junior high school season that basketball would be the sport. And AAU helped with that.
“I improved a lot during the summer before my junior year,” she said. “That’s when I really starting thinking making a goal to play basketball at the next level.”
“Now I can’t imagine being done with the sport and I’m so happy I get to continue it.”
Stier will pursue Elementary Education with plans on becoming an elementary teacher in the future.