Michelle Fisher likes to lead by example. And her example has definitely been one to follow.
Fisher is midway through her senior season Southwestern and is leading her team in scoring for the second year. Her 17.1 ppg was good enough for fourth in the Great American Conference last year, while the slight increase to 17.7 ppg puts her in fourth in the league this season.
A first-team All-GAC player in 2012-13, Fisher was tabbed a pre-season All-American by Division II Bulletin, and is leading her team in three-pointers made on the conference’s highest scoring team (86.4).
And while her play on the court speaks loudly, Fisher’s coaches want her to speak up a little more.
“My coaches want me to be a little more vocal,” Fisher said. “I’m not necessarily a vocal leader. I try to lead a little more by example than by just yelling at people.
“But they have tried to encourage me to be a little more vocal this year because I’m the only person who is a senior that has been here for four years and knows exactly what they want done.
“I’m getting to the point where I’m thinking on the same page as them and I usually know what they’re trying to do or what they’re thinking, so they want me to be a little more vocal about that.”
It’s been a season so far in which her leadership has been needed. Picked to finish second in the conference, high-powered offense alone isn’t enough for the Lady Dawgs, now 6-6 overall and 3-3 in the GAC. SWOSU has been up and down with only one set of back-to-back wins and one set of back-to-back losses.
“Right now, our team is going through a little bit of a rough patch with the injuries we’ve had and we’re having to mix things up and things aren’t going necessarily our way. But we’re working through it and I think we’ll be back to where we were at the beginning of the season soon.
“And I feel like the coaches trust me in my decision-making and they trust me in that role.”
Fisher has a role player and much more through the years in Weatherford. She saw playing time in her first season and came up big and remembers one game in particular.
“My freshman year against Midwestern State, we had one of our starters get hurt and I ended up having to play. I was averaging playing only about half a game, but I got to play most of the game and that was kind of a big deal, then.
“I was really excited and I hit a last second three at the end to go ahead by one.”
Fisher played in all SWOSU games as a sophomore and started as a junior and came up big in the big games. This included scoring a game high 24 points against Central Missouri in the team’s first trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament. That experience was another high point in her career.
“It was big last year, going to the Tournament and actually winning a game. Making school history was really cool.”
ATHLETE AND STUDENT
But Fisher didn’t make the trip from Mustang to Weatherford for just basketball. She was the valedictorian in her class with a 4.0 GPA and headed to SWOSU for her studies.
“I came to Southwestern because I have an academic scholarship and I was originally going to come just to go to school. I wanted to play basketball, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out or not. But I came to a tryout and they asked me to play. ”
Although Fisher enjoys being both parts of the student-athlete, there are challenges that come with doing both well.
“Because I wanted to go to medical school, I had to take a lot of science classes and a lot of labs,” Fisher said. “And Coach (Kelsi) Musick wanted me to take only one lab a semester because we would have to have practice late every night that I had a lab.
“So I took summer school every single summer with a science class and a lab so that I wouldn’t have to take them during school. Having to do that when other people don’t was kind of frustrating. This year, I don’t have to do that so that makes me happy.”
Fisher is carrying a 3.86 GPA now and is planning to go to medical school next year. Among her applications, she has been accepted as OSU in Tulsa.
But there is still business to take care of in her final season.
“My goal is that our team goes back to the national tournament,” Fisher said.
“And I want to win the GAC Tournament – that would be awesome. I did that my sophomore year and that was one of the coolest experiences because we definitely were not supposed to win it.”
WRAPPING THINGS UP
Through her years with Musick, Fisher has not only earned her trust but has grown closer to her coach.
“When I first got here as a freshman, she was my coach and I really saw her just as a coach.
“But as the years have gone on, especially this year, I see her as my coach, but I have a relationship with her where I can talk to her about things that aren’t basketball. I can talk to her about life. And I know that next year, when I’m not playing basketball, I can call her and talk.
“She’s really a great person.”
And when this season is officially in the books, Fisher said she believes the cupboard won’t be bare for Coach Musick.
“We have a lot of girls are getting some minutes now and some that aren’t getting to play yet who can really step up and be able to fill what we will lose after this year.
“We are losing five girls, which is a lot, but we have all the potential on the bench to fill it and as long as they have the confidence they can all fill our shoes easily.”
The road may get a little easier for Fisher and the Lady Dawgs in that they won’t be on the road as much. Five of the next six contests are in Weatherford. On Jan. 25, the basketball teams will christen the new Pioneer Cellular Event Center.
But it’s also five more chances to see another of a growing line of great players to come through the SWOSU women’s basketball program play in her final season.
And when watching Fisher on the court, don’t expect to hear much from her. Her performance will speak for itself.