WELLSVILLE - Tomorrow is moving day for Mikyla Tipton.
The 2012 Wellsville graduate will make the one-hour trip south to Bethany College this weekend where she will be continuing her academic and basketball careers.
During her time with the Tigers, Tipton did it all. She finished her prep basketball career as the school's all-time leading scorer with 1,543 points and was a four-time All-Ohio honoree.
Wellsville's Mikyla Tipton
With all of Tipton's accomplishments, Bethany women's basketball coach Rebecca Upton said that bringing her into the fold was an opportunity she never thought she'd have.
"Her high school coach (Ed Swogger) got in touch with me and said she was still looking at schools," Upton said. "I was surprised. I think she kind of fell through the cracks.
"I saw her play at the OVAC all-star game and I just assumed she was already going somewhere. You don't see many 1,500-point scorers still available that long."
NOTES: Tipton is excited that she will be able to keep her No. 23 at Bethany. "At first, there was another girl that had it," she said. "I took No. 13, but then it came open and coach called and told me I could have 23 after all. It means a lot to me. It just makes me feel more comfortable wearing it." ... The always thoughtful Tipton said she wanted to send a message to this year's Wellsville girls basketball team. "I just want to say good luck to them and give them a few tips that helped me," she said. "Put in the hard work at practice and it will all pay off on game day. As long as you do your best and leave your heart and soul on the court, there is nothing else anyone can ask for, win or lose." ... Bethany opens the season playing at the Wilmington Tournament on Nov. 16-17. The Bison open home play at Hummel Field House on Nov. 28 against Waynesburg.
After speaking with Upton, Tipton said she still wasn't initially sold on Bethany.
"At first, I wasn't sure," Tipton said. "It was a very different environment. I gave it a chance and fell in love with the place. Everything felt right.
"The campus is just so pretty with all kinds of gardens and stuff. And I felt like a school should be about education first and keeping the focus on that above sports. Some schools lose that focus, but academics comes first at Bethany."
Upton said that when she met Tipton that "things just clicked and felt right."
Tipton concurred and said that Upton will be the right fit of friend and motivator.
"When I met her, she knew all about me, but still told me that nothing would be given to me," Tipton said. "She'll be a friend and we can laugh together and have fun, but there's limits. She'll stay on me, push me and give me the motivation I need."
After playing on the wing for most of her high school career, Tipton will be asked to move to the point guard position. At least initially, that is.
"I don't try to pigeon-hole players into a position, but that's where she'll start out," Upton said.
Scoring demands were heavy upon Tipton at Wellsville, but her role could change for the Bison. According to Tipton, that role reversal won't be a problem.
"I'm used to bringing the ball up court and I'm comfortable with that," she said. "If I have a shot, I'll take it, but I want to create plays for my teammates. As long as we win, I don't care. As far as I'm concerned, assists are points too."
While Tipton will likely be dishing out more passes for the Bison than she did for the Tigers, Upton said she will also have a chance to put up some points.
"We have some scoring options for our point guards," she said. "We adjust our scheme based on our personnel. We want her to push the ball and get us up the floor. So she can have some scoring options right there by just beating people down the court."
Bethany, a Division III school which plays in the Presidents' Athletic Conference, finished with a 17-12 mark last season. The Bison reached the PAC Tournament semifinals and earned a berth in the ECAC Tournament for their first postseason play since 2004.
Upton, who will be in her ninth season at Bethany, has led a resurgence to the program finishing with a winning record in four of the last five seasons.
However, the Bison graduated five seniors, four of which were starters. That could mean significant playing time for Tipton as a freshman.
"We only have one true starter back," Upton said. "There are wide-open minutes for the taking. It's going to be exciting for the new kids who can battle for that playing time."
Tipton will start classes on Aug. 27 and she will be majoring in social work with a minor in criminal justice.
She said she is prepared to take on what will be a heavy workload. According to Upton, the team will practice between 2-3 hours per day, six days a week.
"It's full go from the time they get here," Upton said. "It's a long season and a huge commitment. That's why we try to get people like Mikyla in here."