The smell of the hardwood floor. The squeak of sneakers moving across the court. The swish of the basketball as it drops through the hoop. These are just a few of Maisie Elison’s favorite things. It makes sense — she’s been around the game of basketball as long as she can remember — but she didn’t always want to play the sport.
“When I was really little I wanted to be a cheerleader,” said the Cedar High School senior. “I didn’t want anything to do with basketball.”
After spending her 7th grade year trying to figure out where her spot was in athletics, things finally started to click in 8th grade. Elison discovered that despite her own protests, basketball was a game that she loved. It didn’t hurt that she was pretty good at it.
That shouldn’t be a surprise considering her parents, John and Kami, have been involved in basketball Maisie’s entire life. John is entering his 17th year as the head coach for Cedar. Kami, who played basketball at the College of Eastern Utah, coaches Cedar’s JV.
That doesn’t mean that having your parents as your coaches is a breeze.
“It’s hard when she is told that maybe you’re playing because you’re the coaches’ daughter,” said Kami. “But she works really, really hard.”
That includes during the off-season. Maisie, along with younger sister Taylee, a Cedar freshman, participated in the Utah Summer Games. The Lady Reds fell 29-27 to Richfield in the gold-medal game. The game was reminiscent of the 3A state title game that the Lady Reds lost 58-54 to Snow Canyon in February.
Despite the close defeats in a couple of big games, Maisie has a positive attitude and a focus on how to get back to the state championship game.
“I think a lot of it is just teamwork and having a good bond,” she says. “Working hard and doing the best we can together is what is going to get us there.”
Last season Maisie, who is 5-foot-9-inches tall, averaged 2.88 points per game, 2.96 rebounds and finished the year with 17 steals.
“She just helps me, supports me and critiques me, but in a way that makes me want to be better,” Maisie says of Kami. “If I have questions I know I can always go to her and she’ll have an answer.”
From a coach’s perspective Kami is confident having Maisie, who plays power forward/center, protect the basket. “She’s always been good at reading the situation,” Kami says. “That is something you can’t teach. She can read and react so quickly.”
Maisie carries her positive attitude and work ethic from the court to the classroom. Because of the time commitment basketball requires, Maisie, a 4.0 student, has learned to prioritize her time to get her homework done before a game.
The senior isn’t taking easy-A classes either. She is enrolled in AP classes along with courses through Southern Utah University.
“There are a lot of (classes) I have to work pretty hard in,” she says. “It’s definitely not a walk in the park.”
But it will be worth it in the end. By the end of the school year Maisie will almost be done with her first year of college and will likely spend the summer finishing up the last couple of classes.
And although life is all about basketball right now for Maisie, it won’t always be that way. Come this time next year she hopes to be serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Does that mean her playing days are coming to an end? Likely not, but not in the way that one might think.
“I haven’t felt like (playing at the collegiate level) is something that I need to be doing,” she says. “As much as I love the game, I know it’s 100 percent different. I know it’s a lot more work and time consuming. I have older friends that say it’s more of a job than an extracurricular activity. I’ll play intramurals for the fun of it, though.”
But college is definitely in her future. Elison has lofty goals after she returns from her mission. She would eventually like to work in the medical field as an obstetrics (OB) nurse or a nurse practitioner.