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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Megan Voorhees
Megan Voorhees
Assistant News Editor

Hi! I’m Megan Voorhees and I’m the Assistant News Editor at The Northwind! I was first introduced to journalism my sophomore year of high school and I’ve been in love with the profession and writing...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Women’s spring soccer comes to an end this weekend
Lily GouinApril 19, 2024

Deacon proves size isn’t the only factor

Hard work, determination, perseverance, effort-these are just a few virtues which great athletes possess. Quitting, on the other hand, is not an outcome that the great ones will accept. For senior guard Kelsey Deacon, it isn’t even an option.

The 5-foot-7 guard held true to that last week. The Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team found itself in a battle with Hillsdale College last Thursday at the Berry Events Center. Down by two points with the clock dwindling away, the ball managed to find the right hands – Deacon’s. With just six seconds to go, junior Angie Leckson rebounded a purposely missed free throw by sophomore Steffani Stoeger and was able to get the ball to Deacon who sank one from beyond the arc to lift the Wildcats to a 69-68 victory.

It was a big win for the Wildcats (13-12 overall, 8-12 GLIAC), as Hillsdale (22-3, 17-3) sits amongst the top teams in the country for NCAA Division-II basketball. The win also helped bring Northern one step closer to the conference tournament.

“I am very, very thankful for this whole experience that I’ve had at Northern, as well as all my coaches and teammates,” Deacon said. “I hope we can build off of this win and keep pushing ourselves to make it into the conference tournament.”

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For Deacon, it was one of many great accomplishments she has achieved in her four-year tenure as a Wildcat. In her last year of eligibility, Deacon’s senior season has been comparable to only a handful of great players, said NMU women’s basketball head coach Troy Mattson.

“I have been around a lot of seniors in the past 25 years, and I would say that less than a handful of them have had what I would call a great senior season,” Mattson said. “Kelsey is definitely one of those people.”

Deacon has led her team in scoring in 15 out of the 25 games played so far this season, netting a total of 403 points (twice as many as any other Wildcat ) on a .420 shooting percentage.

Her ability to score isn’t the only threat she poses for opponents; so far this season, Deacon has gone 66-72 from the charity stripe, pulled down 75 defensive rebounds, made 29 steals and leads the ‘Cats in assists with 76.

“One of the unique things (about her) is that she is usually one of the smallest players out there,” Mattson said. “She has a target on her back every time she walks onto that court because our opponents put their best defender on her, whether it’s a 6-foot guard or a 5-foot-8 guard. Even with all that pressure, she still produces, which is a sign of a great player.”

This isn’t the only season in which Deacon has put up such impressive numbers. She has led the ‘Cats in assists since her freshman year, and was second in scoring, with a combined 645 points, in her sophomore and junior years.

Mattson said that Deacon’s success is all due to one thing: the hard work that she has put in, not only this season, but her entire life.

A native of Green Bay, Wisc., Deacon lettered all four years at Ashwaubenon High School, where she was a first-team all-conference and all-state selection her junior and senior years.

Even before high school, playing ball was in Deacon’s blood. Her father, Paul Deacon, having coached boys’ varsity basketball in Wisconsin for 25 years, has coached both of Kelsey’s brothers. The elder of which was second-team all-state in high school, while her younger brother holds a state championship. There is also a fourth member to this basketball bunch; Kelsey’s sister will play at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire next season.

“They all grew up as ‘coaches’ kids’ so they understand the challenge,” her father said. “In turn, they have all pushed each other over the years. Her success stems from the hard work shown by her brothers. She always had to work a little bit harder than everyone else because she isn’t always as tall or as strong as some of her opponents. She is the first to show up and the last one to leave and she has always been that way. I think that is what has made her such a success.”

According to Deacon, working every single day is what it takes to be successful, and taking a day off just isn’t an option.

“You can’t take days off and expect to stay on top,” she said.

Deacon remained a little more modest than her well-wishers in regards to her playing career, attributing much of her success to her family, friends and teammates.

Deacon was an NMU recruit in 2005, the same year Mattson stepped up as head coach. Out of the six recruits that came in that year, Deacon is the only one still on the roster.

“She stuck it out through the tough times, and even though we’re at about .500, I can…see that we are going in the right direction,” Mattson said. “She has really helped this team stay focused and motivated every single day.”

Kelsey and the ‘Cats look to keep up that motivation as there are two more obstacles in their regular season. Northern tips off against Saginaw Valley State this evening in Saginaw, and then heads to Sault Ste. Marie on Saturday to face the Lake Superior State University Lakers.

“If they make the tournament, it will be a huge deal for us,” Paul Deacon said. “They (the Wildcats) have come a long way and we are really rooting for her.”

Kelsey Deacon said a mutual passion for the sport is what makes playing college basketball so special, and that is what has made her time at NMU so valuable.

“I love college ball because everyone on the team loves the game,” Deacon said. “In high school, you have people on your team that aren’t as passionate and don’t quite understand how hard some people train to get better. Whereas, in college ball, everyone is here for the right reasons and everyone (on the team) wants to win. Whether you play 40 minutes or five.”

Looking forward to her last regular season series and the possibility of a spot in the playoffs, Deacon finds it difficult to say what she will miss most about playing at Northern.

“I have had great teammates over the years and I have developed strong friendships with all of them. I know we will continue to stay close for a very long time. Troy has been a great coach and he has been there through all of the hard times. The feeling of being part of a group will be hard to replace.”

While Deacon will have to try to fill that void when her time is done here at Northern, Mattson will have to try to fill a crucial spot on his roster – neither task will be easy.

“She does whatever she needs to do on and off the court to help us win, and it will be very hard to replace her because of that,” Mattson said. “We have had our ups and downs, as players and coaches often do, but I will always remember Kelsey.”

Deacon may have one of the smallest pair of sneakers in the locker room-but they’re one of the hardest pairs to fill.

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