Former Douglas basketball star Allyson Fertig is lacing her sneakers, decorating her dorm and making herself right at home in Laramie.
The 2-time Gatorade Wyoming Girls Player of the Year moved in and began practices with the Wyoming Cowgirls earlier this month, and according to Fertig, the adjustments to the college game have been “fun, but challenging.”
“It’s been really different because obviously, it’s not high school anymore,” she said following one of her early morning practices. “The competition is harder and the practices are way more intense. But right now, I know that all I can do is get better every day.”
Breakfast at 8 a.m. Practice at 9, conditioning at 10. Fertig’s Cowgirls alternate between weightlifting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and stamina training on Tuesdays and Thursdays. After each session, mandatory trips to Wyoming’s “fueling station” await Fertig and her teammates to grab protein shakes for post-workout recovery.
“I almost always take a nap after our workouts every day,” Fertig admitted, laughing. “Those get really tiring.”
It’s all part of a day-in and day-out, rinse-wash-repeat cycle for Fertig. And it’s one she’s still getting accustomed to as she transitions from big fish in a small pond to smaller fish in a Division I-sized pond.
But that doesn’t mean the 6-foot-4 Fertig isn’t still, literally, the biggest – or tallest – the pond has to offer.
“Just like in Douglas, I’m the tallest girl on the team,” Fertig said. “There are some girls I still haven’t met yet, some 6-footers, but I’m still the tallest.”
Fertig spoke highly of her Cowgirl teammates for their welcoming attitude toward incoming freshmen like herself.
“I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous meeting everyone at first. I’m kind of shy. But they’ve seriously been great. They’ve been welcoming, and they’re all really cool. Plus, everyone on the team is so unique. It’s been great to get to know everyone and where they’re from and how they play. It’s been amazing.
“We have two seniors on the team, too, and they’ve been really helpful,” Fertig said. “I mean, I know if I was in their position seeing these incoming freshman messing up all the time, I’d get a little frustrated. But they know me and the other freshman have been struggling at times with the new stuff. And they’re always happy to help.”
Cowgirls assistant coach Fallon Lewis has had a front row seat to Fertig’s first few weeks of practices and is impressed with the former Douglas star’s progression.
“Obviously, for any freshman coming in, this transition is never really going to be easy,” Lewis said. “But I’ve watched her progress in these few weeks, and it’s been admirable. She tries her hardest no matter what, and she’s not afraid to push any of us around, even Coach G (head coach Gerald Mattison) when he’s guarding her during drills. She’s been coming into her own.”
Fertig’s Cowgirl career has just begun. Only half the team has reported for practice, and games aren’t scheduled to start until mid-November.
So she’s keeping a focus on what lies immediately in front of her and not thinking too far into the future. Fertig will get her chance to shine, there’s hardly a question about it.
But for now? She’s got her mind and heart set in the right place.
“Like all freshman, you of course want to fight for playing time. But my goal is that no matter how much I play, I just want to be a great teammate. I don’t care if that’s on the court or on the bench.
“When you’re a first-year college player, you can’t expect to be a star no matter what you did in high school. So right now, I just want to prove to my coaches that they recruited me for a reason, that I have potential. I want to work as hard as I can and show them how much I want to be here.”