Sealby sets the standard


Bailey Montieth

Senior forward Alissa Sealby takes the court as the starting five is announced against Montana on Feb. 9. Sealby was second on the team with eight points in the Eagles’ 67-64 win over the Grizzlies.

By Drew Lawson, Reporter

As a four-year senior for the EWU women’s basketball team, forward Alissa Sealby knew going into this season that it was time to step up her game.

“I finally realized that this is my senior year,” Sealby said. “For us to be successful I need to do more than I have in the past.”

Over 21 games this season, Sealby is averaging 8.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 32.9 minutes. All of those marks are career highs. Sealby earned her career high in points this year with 18 in a thrilling 89-87 road victory at Montana State on Jan. 19.

Sealby started playing AAU basketball in fifth grade in her hometown of Wenatchee. As she progressed through middle school and high school, she decided that she wanted to become a college athlete.

“In high school I decided I wanted to play a sport, (not) knowing what sport, in college,” Sealby said. “I have two older brothers who ran track for WSU so I kind of got to see them go through the process and knew I wanted to do that as well.”

In her junior year at Wenatchee High School, Sealby was a three-sport athlete in basketball, soccer and track and field. Out of the three she decided to pursue basketball.

Throughout her whole career, Sealby has always played forward. In high school, she manned the post with her EWU teammate, senior Amira Chandler.

“We were kind of the biggest players, so I was always a post player,” Sealby said.

Sealby was expecting to attend a smaller school if she was going to continue with athletics, considering Central Washington or Western Washington. But she decided to reach out to EWU head coach Wendy Schuller and schedule a visit. During that visit, she received a surprising, but welcome offer.

“I came on my official visit … and had a meeting with (Schuller),” Sealby said. “She was just talking about my game and how they had watched me and everything, but I wasn’t expecting much. Then, literally right before we were about to leave she was like, ‘yeah, so what do you think about playing for me? … We’re offering you a scholarship.’”

After Schuller’s offer, the decision was easy and brief for Sealby and her family.

“(Schuller) said, ‘go home, talk with your family and let me know in a couple days,’” Sealby said. “My dad and I were walking to the car and he said, ‘you’re coming here, right?’ I was like, ‘yeah.’ I was not expecting it in the least … It was a nice surprise.”

Sealby described her freshman year as a great experience and said she learned a lot from then-senior Hayley Hodgins, who was EWU’s all-time leading scorer, until her sister Delaney Hodgins broke her record last season. The biggest adjustment for Sealby was being away from family often.

“I had nothing to compare it to, didn’t know what to expect,” Sealby said. “I remember the hardest part was not being able to see my family as (often) as I thought.”

Sealby said her sophomore year was about continuing to grow and figure out her role. Her junior year, she roomed with Delaney Hodgins and Mariah Cunningham, both seniors at the time. She said that experience allowed her to grow into a leadership role.

“I feel like I was really close with them,” Sealby said. “I started getting to that leadership role, being an upperclassman. Looking back, it’s been really fast, but I don’t think there’s anything that I would change.”

This year, Schuller and the rest of the EWU coaching staff has asked Sealby to take on a larger role with the graduation of Delaney Hodgins, a role that includes more scoring. A shoot-first mentality doesn’t come naturally to Sealby, who prefers to look for teammates.

“I almost have to force her to shoot the ball,” Schuller said. “I have to force her to be more than a role player, because she has been such a great role player for many years.”

Sealby said that part of learning to look for her own shot has been a key to developing her role this year.

“In the past, I was always looking for other players to pass it to, like Hayley and Delaney,” Sealby said. “That was never me, to be like ‘I get the ball, I’m going to shoot it.’ I think sometimes my first instinct is still to pass … because it’s looking for the best shot we can get, but (I) realize that sometimes that best shot comes from me.”

When describing Sealby to The Easterner, Schuller likened her to EWU head football coach Aaron Best’s mantra for “EKGs,” or “Eastern Kinda Guys.”

“What a great four-year player in our program,” Schuller said. “Ali is an EKG. She’s a glue kid. She has a great understanding of what we’re trying to do … she keeps us together and keeps us in order.”

Sealby has also been recognized off the court. In December 2018, the public health major was named EWU’s Female Scholar-Athlete of the Month for her 3.88 GPA. She said she’s had to learn to balance classes with basketball over the past four years.

“I just realized from the beginning I was never going to make basketball my career,” Sealby said. “It comes down to my studies. While I’m here and on campus it’s about basketball, but as soon as I get home I have to get my work done. It’s also been hard traveling, because I’ve had to take a couple tests on the road, but for the most part my teachers have been pretty good with that because they know I’m going to get my work done.”

Sealby and the Eagles have four weeks left in the regular season before the Big Sky Conference Tournament in Boise. Next up is a Valentine’s Day matchup on Feb. 14 at Northern Colorado. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.