Freshmen Reflections – Top ranked Class of 2014 women reflect on their first year at SMU.
Twin sisters, Keely and Alicia Froling Froling, are coming off their freshman season at SMU in Dallas, Texas, with two rather different Division I first year experiences. The Froling family is one of the only families in Australia to boast such exceptional pedigree, with both their mother and father having been professional basketball players. In addition to their excellent lineage, the sisters have a strong work ethic and a firm desire to improve. Both qualities that have stood them in good stead throughout their playing career.
The sisters confide it was not until they started playing U16 that their basketball prowess became apparent and they both discovered they were pretty good at basketball. According to Keely, “when we started playing U16 and we were the best on that team averaging double-doubles in most of our games, that’s when I realized I was a good player and that I can go to college and play somewhere.”
Alicia noted, “I realized college was an option to us after we won the U18 National championship in Brisbane. That was my defining moment. Then we went to the AIS, and we performed pretty well there too.” Alicia went on to explain the benefits of being at the AIS, which is now known as the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence. “The best part is the environment. You have the best coaches, strength and conditioning, and the nutrition. You’re always in the same vicinity and everyone is there to help you develop as an athlete and as a person. Sometimes it was hard being away from home, but the environment was awesome.” Alicia added, “When we went to the AIS we didn’t know what we were getting into. Leaving somewhere you love for the unknown, but it worked out though.”
After wrapping up a solid youth career in Australia, it was time to scope out schools for the girls. Keely explained how they went about the process. “In September 2013 we came over for 2 weeks with our Mum and Dad. We went to four schools. SMU was our last stop. We toured around and met everyone and got to know everybody.” A few things surprised the girls during their trip out to the four schools they visited, “We went to one of the SMU girl’s houses for team dinner and she had two pet snakes. It was cool,” Keely said. Alicia added, “We went paddle boarding, we went to the State fair, and it was fun to see all the stuff they had at each spot.”
“It was a hard decision coming from Australia, not knowing how colleges work, but we talked to people, we talked to Randy Livingston who explained how things work, and at the end of the day we decided to go with SMU. It just seemed like a good fit,” Alicia said.
Attending and playing at SMU has proven to be beneficial for both girls, although the road was not always a smooth one. Keely described how she sustained an injury that put her on the sidelines for a good part of the season. “It was upsetting. I got hit in a game and I was devastated when it happened. It took a few days to get over, but I’m going to be a part of the World’s team so that will be good and I plan to be on the court next season. I think I need to get back to attacking the hoop, and I know that’s something I need to work on. My defense as well, and hopefully get a lot of stops for my team.” Keely’s injury forced her to take in her freshman season in a different fashion than her sister Alicia. Yet, her rehab process is going smoothly, and the two sisters should be reunited on the court next season.
For Alicia, she took away a few specific lessons from her freshman season, “we struggled as a team, so at the start of the season I didn’t know where I fit, but during the season and toward the end of the season I wanted to take over. I want to be more of a leader on the court. Having my freshman experience behind me will be good for next season. I want to work on my versatility and shooting.” Alicia’s stats speak for themselves. She played in all 30 games with 28 starts to score an average 11.5 points per game and a season high of 27 pts at UCF, plus two season high 15 rebound games against Texas A&M and at Tulsa. Not bad for a Freshman. In fact so good, that Alicia earned herself a place on the American Athletic Conference All-Freshman Team.
Despite her injury, Keely was keen to point out the best thing about being at SMU was, “playing in our conference (the American Athletic Conference) because it is such a strong conference. Learning the American style of the game has been great.” On the other hand, “being so far from home is the hardest part, and during my injury that was hard to know I was a day’s flight away.” Despite the hiccups, Keely posted some impressive stats from her first season, including a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds against Texas A&M and she led the Mustangs in free throw percentage, shooting 86.8% (33-of-38).
One of the best memories the Froling sisters will take away from their freshman season, is when their team hit the road to take on the legendary UConn Huskies, who ultimately went to the Final Four and won the Championship Trophy. “UConn was our first conference game and it was in Connecticut in front of 12,000 people. It was a great experience,” Keely said. “It was good to see their benchmark. It’s what we all want to get to. They have some of the best players in the country, so now we know what we have to do to hopefully beat those type of players in the future,” Alicia explained.
One more added highlight came a bit more unexpectedly when the girls got to meet former United States President George Bush as Alicia described, “over Spring Break, we were in the weight room and President Bush came to visit the boys to congratulate them, and we saw him and we waved to him and he came back and spoke to us. It was very cool.”
You can certainly describe each Froling sister’s first season for SMU as eventful, each in their own ways. Look for the two to continue making strides on and off the court this coming year as they both begin their sophomore seasons with a renewed commitment to working hard and a continued desire to improve their game.