BRADFORD – Bradford senior Mandi Bates is hoping to be a four-year varsity player for the Ohio North University women’s basketball team, a program she committed to Monday evening.
Bates, the daughter of Michelle and Curtis Enis, said she felt like she fit in at Ohio Northern both academically and athletically.
“Whenever I visited I checked out their business building because that’s what I’m majoring in, business, and I really liked it,” she said. “And then that day I had a meeting with Coach (Michele) Durand and I really like the program and I really like her coaching style and I just felt like I’d fit right in.”
Ohio Northern is a NCAA Division III program that competes in the Ohio Athletic Conference. This past season the Polar Bears were ranked fifth in the nation, compiling a 30-1 overall record and making the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division III tournament.
With such strong talent already in the Ohio Northern program, Bates is going to have a great opportunity to go in and learn from some veteran players, Bradford girls basketball coach Patrick McKee said.
“They have great leadership there, they have great players, and she can really go in there and just learn for a little bit from all these other great athletes,” he said.
Bates isn’t intimidated by the fact that Ohio Northern has so much established talent.
“She’s already kind of came to me this year after the season and said, ‘I don’t want to play JV next year,’” McKee said. “Not that she doesn’t understand that she might not be better but that’s just her drive, and she’s the kind of kid that she’s going to work hard enough to make that happen.”
Ohio Northern has both varsity and junior varsity women’s basketball teams, but Bates wants to earn a spot on the varsity roster as a freshman. The shooting guard also hopes to score 1,000 career points and help the Polar Bears continue their winning tradition.
“It’s just going to push me even harder to get on the varsity team and be on it all four years,” she said.
McKee saw Bates’ drive to succeed beginning with her freshman year of high school basketball when she made the Railroaders’ varsity roster. That 2013-14 Bradford girls basketball team was the most successful in program history, reaching the district finals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament before losing to eventual state final four team Fort Loramie.
“I really believe that we live in a society right now of instant gratification, and the real world is not like that at all,” McKee said. “So for someone like her to show that hard work over four years does pay off and she can get to that level, it’s really rewarding to not only her, not only her family but also these other kids that see that that hard work did pay off even though it didn’t happen overnight.”
Bates progressed throughout her high school career and as a senior averaged 18.0 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
“I love the way she kind of got into the attack this year,” McKee said. “She’s now willing to play the physical game this year, and that’s really going to help her. She fits in well to the ONU system for that reason, being able just to attack the rim, get the free throw line.”