If you have any interest in U.P. basketball, or high school sports for matter, you should know the name Lexi Gussert by now. If you don’t, there are plenty of college recruiters from the top programs in the country that could fill you in.
ABC 10’s Rick Tarsitano has that story, in his look at the local legend.
“Obviously Lexi is one of those players that coaches dream about having, but she’s not only this phenomenal player, she’s just a fun, kind-hearted person. She is a friend to everybody. She walks into the gym and everybody smiles. She always has something goofy, or silly to say,” said Jackie Giuliani, the Forest Park Lady Trojans’ Assistant Coach.
“Sometimes, my mom let’s me put my arm on her head for an armrest,” joked Lexi.
“That is not even nice,” laughed Kathy, Lexi’s mom.
“But, she can turn it off in an instant,” Giuliani explained.
“We use her as one of our coaches,” noted Jeff Syrjanen, Head Coach of the Lady Trojans. “She’s so good with the rest of our players. I talk with my Assistant Coach, Jackie here, and we kind of laugh a little bit because we can turn our backs at a practice and she’s coaching away there. She knows the game well enough that we trust her decisions on many, many things.”
“It all started, pretty much, with my dad. He was the varsity head coach here. So, when I was little, I would come out to practice and start
shooting. He’d say, ‘Lex! Get off the court! Get off the court!’ But, it never stopped me. I came up here every day after school. I just loved being in the gym,” Lexi remembered.
“You know, it’s been a lot of years since I coached, so it’s getting easier. I think when I first stopped coaching, I wanted to have a cell phone connection right to the bench. But, she’s in good hands. Jeff and Jackie know what they’re doing. The program has been very successful. We still talk about things at home. Jeff and Jackie have been great to invite me into practices, and to allow me to let them know what I think and what I’m seeing. So, it works out well, still,” remarked Scott, Lexi’s dad.
“It was a really neat experience when I got the phone call from her saying, ‘Oh my goodness! This school called! Can you believe this?’ It was exciting. I think she was really overwhelmed at first. She got really nervous. But, I was really amazed at how, when the school’s came, she used that nervous energy and actually played better,” Giuliani added.
Being recruited by such storied programs as UConn and Tennessee would give most players an ego. But, for Lexi, it’s always Forest Park first. And with it, the entire town of Crystal Falls.
“Oh yeah. We hear about it probably every day. I hear it at work. Everyone’s excited. This is kind of big for Crystal Falls and definitely a proud moment for Scott and I,” Kathy added.
“At the start of the recruiting process, I told my parents I didn’t want to know who’s in the stands. But, after a while, we were telling each other everything. The coaches did a good job of telling me who’s out there. I did a good job of staying focused. I mean, the team is most important to me. I’m not going to try and show off in front of the coaches. I’m just going to do my thing with the team. Yeah, I get nervous knowing who’s out there, but if you get too nervous you’re not going to play your best. You realize that and just play the game,” finished Lexi.
After a number of visits to school across the country, Lexi has made her decision to become a Spartan at Michigan State University.