Polowy signs with Missouri State

LeeAnn Polowy of Blair Oaks (seated, center) signs a letter of intent Wednesday to play basketball at Missouri State University. Also seated are her parents, Greg and Mary Ann Polowy. Standing (from left) are AAU coaches Jim Deeken and Reggie Middlebrook, and Blair Oaks head coach Leroy Bernskoetter.

LeeAnn Polowy of Blair Oaks (seated, center) signs a letter of intent Wednesday to play basketball at Missouri State University. Also seated are her parents, Greg and Mary Ann Polowy. Standing (from left) are AAU coaches Jim Deeken and Reggie Middlebrook, and Blair Oaks head coach Leroy Bernskoetter. Photo by Julie Smith.

WARDSVILLE, Mo. – Sometimes when you’re a Division I signee, there’s pressure that comes with it since other players are always trying to prove themselves against you.

For Blair Oaks’ LeeAnn Polowy, that’s just one more challenge she’s looking forward to meeting.

“I feel like people usually bring their ‘A’ game when they play Blair Oaks anyway,” said Polowy, who signed a letter of intent Wednesday to play basketball for Missouri State. “They’re going to bring their ‘A’ game no matter what. I’m ready for it, I love the challenge. I’m a competitor, l like competing, so whatever it brings, I’m happy.”

One thing the 5-foot-6 senior is also happy about is her choice of schools.

“I love Missouri State, I love the Bears, they have a phenomenal coaching staff,” Polowy said. “(Head) coach (Kellie) Harper, her having three national championships (as a player at Tennessee) is huge, and (assistant coach) Jackie Stiles, I’m so excited to go learn from her, she’s a small guard just like me, so I should pick up on a few things.

“… The support for women’s basketball in Springfield is crazy good, so I’m real excited.”

And the support for Polowy in Springfield is already there.

“I’ve talked to coach Harper and it seems like they’re really excited to have her,” Blair Oaks coach Leroy Bernskoetter said.

He added Polowy is very deserving of being a Division-I player.

“LeeAnn has that passion that you need to have to go on to the next level,” Bernskoetter said.

Polowy becomes the first Division-I signee for Blair Oaks since Alora Marble signed in 2009 to play softball at Southeast Missouri State. Polowy committed to the Lady Bears in the summer, which lessened the stress of being recruited, but said Wednesday’s signing made things even easier since it’s now all official.

“This summer when I committed, it was the best decision I could have made – the rest of the year I’ve been stress-free and able to focus on what I need to do,” she said. “School’s less stressful, sports are less stressful.”

And that’s sports, not sport, since Polowy was also a starter on the Blair Oaks softball team that finished second in the state in Class 2. Not that softball season was all sunshine and roses, as she was initially slowed by shoulder troubles before other troubles arose.

“In softball I got to finish the season playing in the field – I’ve been dealing on a lot,” she said. “(Football) coach (Brad) Drehle has helped me out a lot with my injuries – I also pulled my hamstring, broke my finger, so I was accident-prone during softball season. Hopefully everything is done for.”

Also in attendance Wednesday was Reggie Middlebrook, club director of Missouri Phenom, Polowy’s summer team. Phenom has a whopping seven Division I basketball recruits this year – Polowy, Aubrey Buckley (Springfield Parkview) and Audrey Holt (Rock Bridge) are all going to Missouri State; Lauren Aldridge (Marshfield) and Chayla Cheadle (Rock Bridge) have signed with Kansas; Monique Townson (Staley) will play for Arkansas-Little Rock; Imani Johnson (Lee’s Summit North) is going to Southeast Missouri State; and Abrianna Porter (Rock Bridge) going to Missouri. In addition, another player, Kayla Cheadle (Rock Bridge), has signed with Kansas to play volleyball.

Middlebrook said Polowy continued to improve during her time on the team.

“The moment was never too big for her,” he said. “When she first came, expectations weren’t that high. She just came and rose up. She’d get you more and more excited.

“I got myself in some trouble because I had said, ‘We’re going to take it slow.’ But every time she got on the floor, she’d have success.”

Now Polowy will look to have success at the Division I level, and she said she knows what she brings to the table and what she needs to improve upon.

“I’m a shooter,” she said. “That’s what they picked me up for, to stand behind the arc and shoot 3s.

“I can always get better at ballhandling, driving to the lane. And I need to get stronger, for sure, because everybody in college is pretty ripped. I need to get in the weight room.”

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