2017-10-26 / Sports

Basketball taking Fipps all over world

Sports/Education Editor

Sydnee Fipps, shown above with the basketball, has gone all around the globe playing the game she loves. 
Submitted photos Sydnee Fipps, shown above with the basketball, has gone all around the globe playing the game she loves. Submitted photos Being born and raised in Mariposa, Sydnee Fipps never imagined she would be playing professional basketball overseas.

But the small town girl is making it big. Fipps, 24, is currently playing for the Lakeside Lightning of the State Basketball League (SBL) of Western Australia.

The 5-foot-10 shooting guard has made the most of her talent throughout the years, and it’s taken her all over the world. Fipps has played professionally in Germany, Portugal, England and Australia.

But it hasn’t always been an easy journey.

Battling adversity

Fipps has overcome a lot during her years in basketball.

One of the first adversities she faced was the decision to play for a school other than Mariposa County High School. Fipps felt there were opportunities presented to her at Yosemite High School in Oakhurst that she didn’t want to miss out on — not just on the basketball court but in other areas as well.

Sydnee Fipps thought about ending her career, but is planning to play at least one more season overseas. Sydnee Fipps thought about ending her career, but is planning to play at least one more season overseas. So she decided to play basketball for the Badgers.

“It was really hard,” said Fipps. “All of my best friends were still from Mariposa. I’m still so close with all my Mariposa friends. It was hard but so rewarding at the same time.”

Then a major injury occurred.

Between her junior and senior year of high school, she tore her right anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a ligament that stabilizes the knee.

“The ACL physical recovery process is long and it takes a lot of patience because it takes forever and you want to be sure to come back stronger than before,” Fipps said.

She bounced back from that and graduated high school in 2011, finishing as a McDonald’s High School All-America nominee who averaged 23.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 2.6 steals per game throughout her prep tenure.

After high school, Fipps went to UC Davis for four years and graduated in 2015, playing NCAA Division I basketball for the Aggies.

While there, she was building a legacy at the school as one of its top scorers, until disaster struck again.

Toward the end of her college tenure, she tore her other ACL.

“The end of my senior year, that was the year we were supposed to win,” Fipps said. “I was the second leading scorer at the time and only needed a couple more games (to become the all-time leading scorer in school history). That was a big shock. We were really supposed to win the championship that year.”

Fipps ended up posting 1,636 points during her time at UC Davis. That was enough to catch the eye of a team in Portugal, Torres Novas.

She rehabbed the injury and came back in time to play for Terres Novas.

“It was extremely hard to go through mentally and to do it twice was heart breaking for me,” Fipps said. “Especially the second time to end my college career like that.”

With the rehab complete, the next few months would continue to be a whirlwind.

She played in Portugal for a few months and came home to America for Christmas. She went back to Portugal after Christmas but had issues with her VISA, which forced her to come back to America.

She switched agents, and her new agent was German, so she played in Germany the following season for Herner TC, only playing there for a few weeks.

Her next stop was a team in England, the Manchester Mystics, another short stay of just a few weeks.

“I bounced around,” Fipps said. “They were still all really good experiences.”

While playing in England, Fipps was deciding what she wanted to do.

She was making money and having fun, but wasn’t sure what the future would hold.

She decided to return home.

As she was in the process of coming back home, an Australian coach contacted her and asked if she wanted to continue playing.

Fipps decided to give it one last shot.

In January of 2017 she went to play for the Lakeside Lightning in the State Basketball League (SBL) of Western Australia.

“Coming into this year, I thought 100 percent I was going to be done,” Fipps said. “It’s so hard to pass up playing in another country and getting paid to play.”

She had so much fun, in fact, that she will be playing another season.

“I don’t want to say this is my last year, but I’m pretty confident it’ll be my last year,” Fipps said. “I wanted to end basketball on good terms and have fun. ... I went and played really well. Then I was like, ‘Man, I don’t think I want to be done.’”

Taking nothing for granted

Fipps said she never wants to take her health for granted and wants to be thankful for the chance to even get out there and play.

“When I chose to play basketball I obviously knew that those type of injuries were possible, but as an athlete if you don’t put yourself out there you never get a chance to experience all the greater things that come with the sport,” Fipps said. “I’m very thankful I stuck with it, though, because I wouldn’t have gotten to experience all the amazing countries I have. I can say I am physically and mentally tougher than before those injuries though.”

Fipps said she is a “strong believer and everything happens for a reason.”

“In high school if it wasn’t for my ACL tear, I’m not sure I would have chosen UC Davis,” Fipps said. “UC Davis was a perfect fit for me on and off the court and I’m so thankful to have gone there.”

Home for a while

Fipps returned home to Mariposa this autumn. She is spending her offseason here.

“I love Mariposa,” Fipps said. “It’s so nice to be back.”

She is taking time off, spending time with family and has some trips planned.

She’ll start back up with the basketball season in the spring.

She had advice for young athletes in Mariposa.

“Keep working hard and be a little bit more resourceful, because you’re from a small town,” Fipps said.

She encouraged athletes to “be tough.”

“Being from a small town, we have something special,” Fipps said. “We’re tougher in a way. We have a country side to us, a tough side to us. That’s shown my whole career.”

Playing against UCONN

Fipps had the unique opportunity to play against the University of Connecticut (UCONN), a powerhouse in women’s college basketball, during both her junior and senior seasons.

“They’re super good,” Fipps said. “How many people can say they’ve played UCONN?”

UC Davis lost both games, but in one of the games, Fipps shot 5-of-11 for 13 points and 6 rebounds. In the other, she shot 4-of- 11 for 9 points and 6 rebounds.

She said she’s never been a UCONN fan, but she will never forget seeing coach Geno Auriemma, who has the most championships in the history of Division I women’s college basketball.

“He’s such an icon,” Fipps said.

Working on her goals

Fipps, who describes herself as a natural “slasher,” or a player who takes the ball to the hoop, is continuing to work on her shooting skills.

“Later in life, I developed my shooting skills,” Fipps said. “But I prefer to drive (to the hoop).”

Her goal over the offseason is to work on her midrange shooting skills.

“I shoot the 3-pointer really well and I get to the basket, but I don’t have an in-between game,” Fipps said.

She is also focused on her diet and strength training in hopes of strengthening herself and preventing injuries.

“The older I get, it’s so much more important to be on my diet and do strength training,” Fipps said. “I’m trying to be faster.”

Enjoying every moment

Fipps is just two years removed from college, but she’s already gained a lifetime of memories from her travels.

“Being from Mariposa, you’re from such a small town that it’s different,” Fipps said. “I would have never thought that at this age, I would have lived in four countries.”

She’s been able to see all kind of sites around the world. In the league she’s playing in currently, there is only one game per week. That gives her some free time.

“In Australia you have more free time, which is nice, even for my body, too,” Fipps said.

Some of her teammates throughout her stops in the four countries have been American, but she’s also made friends with many of her foreign teammates.

Fipps has a degree in managerial economics, which she said “is very broad.” She has already talked with about getting a job with the team she’s currently playing for after her playing days are over.

She is interested in working on the business side of the sports industry.

“It’s kind of getting my foot in the door of anything,” Fipps said of her hopes.

Wherever life takes her, one thing is certain for Sydnee Fipps: basketball has played a huge role in the person she is and the places she’s going.

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First of all I would like to

First of all I would like to congratulate you on all of your accomplishments. You are truly an inspiration for all young women athletes. I enjoyed reading about your travels and dreams. You are so tenacious to overcome your injuries and become all you can on the basketball court. Just to let you know we had a couple of daughters that were coached by your mother at Mariposa High School. When I saw your picture I couldn’t help remark how much you favor your mother’s great looks. Best of luck and great health this coming basketball season.

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