As the basketball season comes to an end for USD, three Coyote seniors Tyler Flack, Abigail Fogg and Bridget Arens say goodbye to their teams.
Tyler Flack is the lone senior on the men’s basketball team this season and has had a thriving career of five years with the Coyotes.
Flack said his defining moment as a Coyote came this season as a senior.
“Finally winning the conference outright and having gone through a lot of adversity was tough,” he said. “I had to go through some injuries and we had rough years – I think we finished in the bottom half for most of my years – so finally it’s cool to have a group of guys to get it done and win the conference.”
Outside of the game, Flack said he finally decided what he wanted to do after graduating, though it didn’t come easy.
“I had no idea (what I wanted to do) as a freshman or sophomore,” he said. “After I spoke to people about exercise sciences cases, I liked what they were teaching so after finishing up with basketball I’m really excited to go into sports performance training.”
Flack said he’s not ready to be done with the game he has such passion for.
“I want to keep playing basketball till my legs give up,” he said.
Flack said the fans have made a huge impact on him ever since he first came to USD.
“The people here are really awesome, and especially at the state games are so amazing,” he said. “We’re a big family as Yotes and people always support us and travel along to cheer us up. I love the university and I hope the basketball program continues to grow along with other programs.”
Head coach Craig Smith spoke highly of Flack and his accomplishments both on and off the court.
“I’ve had the pleasure of coaching Tyler three years of his five years here,” he said. “He has come a long way on the court and off the court. Off the court, he’s now a lot more vocal than he used to be. He’s really grown out his shell that way. On the court, he has just blossomed.”
Smith said suffering injuries throughout his career has pushed him as an athlete.
“He’s a worker. He gets in there (the gym) all the time,” he said. “We lose the conference game to South Dakota State on Monday night and he was back up in the gym on Tuesday morning.”
Flack’s contribution to the team was key to the team’s success, Smith said.
“He’s done much good for the team and the program,” he said. “He’s had a profound impact on all our guys. With Tyler being our only senior, not only a senior who’s been through those battles before but also his talent and ability, it makes him more respected to listen to and learn things from. He has been a stabilizing force for our guys. “
Smith said he thinks Flack will continue to play basketball and succeed following his graduation this spring.
“I have no doubt that Tyler will play professional basketball somewhere,” he said. “With a guy with his talent and ability, he will have a lot of opportunities.”
On the women’s side of the game, one of the two graduating seniors on the team is Abigail Fogg.
Fogg played for the Coyotes for two years after transferring from American University and has been a big presence on the team since.
Fogg said she’s had so many great experiences at USD that she couldn’t single out one that defined her time here.
“Honestly, it’s been an awesome experience being here,” she said. “I guess when I transferred here after my second year at American University I really didn’t know much about what I getting into, because I didn’t get to visit or anything. But being here is just awesome for me in so many ways on and off the court.”
Fogg said she’s also enjoyed her time off the court at USD.
“I’ve just learned a lot of stuff from my major,” she said. “I’ve had awesome teachers and my art minor has been a lot of fun, just a lot of growth in both of those fields.”
Fogg said she hopes to continue playing basketball after graduation.
“That’s the plan,” she said. “I guess whenever I’m done, I’ll go back home and continue playing.”
Fogg said the fans were a great part of her career and appreciates what they have done for her.
“The fans have been totally awesome, just even to get them to meet outside of games,” she said. “It’s amazing how much they care about us and invest in our lives. The support that alumni and fans bring is definitely something I cherish.”
Head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said Fogg was a leader for the team and really had an impact on its younger members.
“What I really love about Abby is that she gives everything 100 percent,” she said. “She gets after it and is constantly making things happen. She was a player who we had to slow down in a lot of ways.”
Plitzuweit also spoke highly of Fogg’s progress.
“She is excited to get better,” Plitzuweit said. “I was watching our first scrimmages of the season, and then the last one, and I noticed how much Abby has progressed as a player. I think she’s going continue progressing as a player and play for some teams.”
The second graduating senior on the women’s team is Bridget Arens.
Arens played for the Coyotes for four years and is the older sister of teammate Allison Arens.
Arens said the defining part of her career was playing in the NCAA tournament her freshman year.
“That was definitely the highlight of my career, something that I’ll never forget is the excitement of doing it for the first time,” she said. “Also, the WNIT was a lot of fun last year, and getting to share a lot of court time with my sister this year has been awesome.”
Off the court, Arens has quite a bit ahead of her.
“I am completing my undergrad early and starting my masters in school counseling so that transition was pretty real,” Arens said.
She considers her basketball career over, Arens said.
“This is it,” she said. “I’m done after the season.”
While her playing career may be over, Arens said she’s enjoyed her time at USD.
“It’s been amazing,” Arens said. “I think the people are great and I love it here. It’s big enough, as well small enough where you’ve one on one relationship with your teachers and peers.”
Plitzuweit praised Arens’ toughness throughout her career.
“Bridget has been the toughest young lady I’ve ever been around with,” she said. “She is excited about every time we get together as a team for practice. I don’t know if I ever coached a player, the one that has been as tougher than she is, I know I haven’t. I have never coached a player that understands as better as her that understands how important each day is for her.”
Arens has had a big impact on the team, Plitzuweit said.
“She really embodies our outcome of the program,” she said. “She is out there day in and day out. There’s so much the younger ladies have taken a cue from her as a person.”
Plitzuweit said her seniors will be big shoes to fill next year, both as players and people.
“They are two young ladies that you would be proud to either coach or be their parent,” Plitzuweit said.