Warriorette Alaina Stiles signs with Freed-Hardeman


 On Nov. 10, 2021, White County Warriorette senior Alaina Stiles signed her National Letter of Intent to play basketball at the collegiate level for Freed-Hardeman University.

“This is an exciting day – not only for Alaina, but for our program. We have another girl - this is our fourth one in two years - that has gone on to further their career academically and athletically,” Warriorette head coach Michael Dodgen said. “She is going to a really good school in Freed, and she is going to have an opportunity to play with a former teammate in Morgan Quick there. [They have] a good program there with Coach Epperson. I am confident that Alaina has a bright future ahead of her and she’s worked hard to get there.”

Stiles, who plans to major in elementary education, said that Free-Hardeman University has been her preferred school since the time she was on the courts at White County Middle School.

“I was really excited when he offered me,” she said.

Stiles said the offer came after some camps, an official visit, and Coach Epperson watching her play as part of a strong Warriorette team.

“I knew that’s where I wanted to go,” she said.

Coach Joshua Epperson said he learned of Stiles not long after he took over the Lady Lions program, in April 2020, and  he was immediately impressed with her.

“She had reached out when I first took over the program,” Epperson said.

 The coach said Stiles had sent him an email introducing herself and letting him know how much she wanted to be a part of the Lions program.

“That was my first glance,” he said. “Then we watched her come to camps and that relationship built from there.”

While Stiles’ play on the courts impressed Epperson, he said it was her personality and mental approach that really had the coaches taking more than one look.

“Every step of the way, the person that she is shone through,” he said, “That’s a big part of what attracted to her. She’s really a good person. She’s really mature for her age, and that’s important going to the college level. She also showed the certainty that she WANTS to be at Freed-Hardeman. Then after we watched her play, we were like, ‘We want you here, too!’”

“I think the other thing is, she is a great Christian scholar athlete,” Epperson continued, saying that all three phases are important to the Freed-Hardeman program’s culture. “The Christian part is important to us at a Christian school. The scholar part is important as well, that she does well in the classroom. And then athlete is obviously a big part. She is all three, and that is what we are looking for.”

For Stiles, she is looking forward to reuniting with former Warriorette Morgan Quick and is hoping the relationship the two have will help her transition to the faster, stronger game of college basketball.

“I’m excited about reuniting with Morgan. She will help me adjust and tell me what it’s like and help me transition into the Lions’ team culture,” Stiles said. “In college, I want to continue to improve my game and help my team. I would love to be with the team and win a national tournament.”

Epperson said he looks for Stiles to fit in well and begin contributing to the team as soon as she arrives on campus.

“The biggest thing she will help is with is her versatility. We do a lot of things where we switch a lot of things on the defensive end, so her length will help us a lot where she can guard multiple positions,” he explained, and then said that her versatility shows in the offensive game as well. “There are times I’ve seen her bring the ball down the floor, there are times I’ve seen her inside in the post. That versatility will help us a lot. Where she can help us right off the bat is fill in some holes that we might have.”

While Epperson is impressed with her versatility and expecting Stiles to help the team during her freshman year, he also looks forward to her athletic development during her time with the Lady Lions.

“When she develops over time at the college level, she will find which things she can do best at this level, and we will focus on those then,” he said. “But right now, she has so many different tools, we are really looking forward to that.”

For Stiles, who is excited about her future, she still has unfinished business on the court at Roy Sewell Gymnasium.

“As a team this season, I want to make it far and maybe even win a state championship. We have the talent to do that,” she said of her Warriorette teammates, before admitting that she does have an individual goal as well. “I really want to reach my 1,000 points. I am only at 750 right now, so I have a lot of work to do.”

And, Stiles said she knows that, while her future will be at as a Lion, she has faith in the future of the Warriorette program she will leave behind.

“I’m excited for them in the future years. There’s a lot of talent here and in the teams coming up,” she said of the White County basketball program and offered advice for those, who like her, may have dreams of continuing their careers. “Always push for your goals and continue working.”


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