Upton commits to MSU

Submitted Photo Sydney Upton, middle, has committed to continue her education in Minot, attending Minot State University and playing volleyball for the Beavers. Roger Coleman, right, Bishop Ryan’s athletic director and head girls’ basketball coach, and the Lions’ Head Volleyball Coach Nick Theis, left, join Sydney after she has signed her letter of intent to continue her college career at MSU.

Coaches describe their players in all sorts of ways, some positive and some not-so-positive. Rarely do you find a coach who describes a player as having, “transformed (the) program.” But those are exactly the words, Bishop Ryan’s head volleyball coach Nick Theis used to describe senior outside hitter Sydney Upton.

On Thursday, flanked by Roger Coleman, the Lion’s athletic director, head football coach and girls’ basketball coach, and Theis, Upton signed her letter of intent to continue her education and her athletic career for Minot State University, bringing her transformational powers to the Beavers. Upton will join the volleyball team.

Upton is a four-year letter winner and starter for the Lion’s volleyball team. In four seasons for Bishop Ryan, Upton had 180 service aces, 1,327 kills, 104 blocks, and 906 digs, starting her career as a middle. She led the team in kills her sophomore year. At the beginning of her junior year, Upton found her home as an outside hitter, leading the team in both digs and kills. She was named a team captain her senior year, guiding the team to a second-place finish in Region 6. Upton led Region 6 with 104 service aces, 581 kills, and 30 blocks. She also led the Lions with 462 digs.

Upton is a two time all-district and all-region selection in volleyball, earning all-state honors her senior season in volleyball. She also was selected to play in the Optimist All-Star game in volleyball. Bishop Ryan honored her as its female athlete of the year. Upton is also a decorated basketball player, being named all-district and all region in girls’ basketball three times and was named the Co-Senior Athlete of District 12 in girls’ basketball this past season.

“Sydney’s role on the team has been much deeper than performing during a match. Throughout her career, Sydney has been a team leader on and off the court. Her teammates looked to her to be a leader and an inspiration,” said Theis. “Sydney could always be counted upon to guide younger players, including giving advice and instruction for underclassmen on all squads. Sydney was a floor general who could help rally the team in adverse situations. She is a talented volleyball player with a passion for the sport and for competition.”

Sydney Upton, middle, has committed to continue her education in Minot, attending Minot State University and playing volleyball for the Beavers. Roger Coleman, right, Bishop Ryan’s athletic director and head girls’ basketball coach, and the Lions’ Head Volleyball Coach Nick Theis, left, join Sydney after she has signed her letter of intent to continue her college career at MSU.

Sydney is so much more than just an athlete, carrying an impressive 4.12 GPA in the classroom. We were able to ask her a series of questions to get to know her better outside of the halls of Bishop Ryan.

MDN: What do you like to do in your spare time?

SU: Hang out with my friends and family.

MDN: What motivates you?

SU: Knowing that I can always be better

MDN: Recommend a book to read.

SU: Mind Gym – Holly Johnson, who was Ms. Basketball back in the day from Minot High; she coached me in basketball.

MDN: Who do you look up to?

SU: I look up to anyone I see that works hard and is tough.

MDN: If you were stranded on a desert island, if you get to take three things with you, what are they and why?

SU: Is my family a thing? Are my friends a thing?

MDN: If you can have dinner with any two people (alive or dead), who and why?

SU: One person would be my Grandpa Ty; whether it’s because he can’t see the menu or he hates the service, I know it will be funny. The other one would be Jesus. I feel that explains itself.

MDN: Tell me about a time you lost at something, doesn’t have to be volleyball, what did you learn? (Life’s toughest lessons are always in defeat, tell me about a time you experienced defeat, and how you came back a better person.)

SU: Well, I could say the region volleyball championship, when we weren’t even expected to be there, competing against a team we had beaten earlier (Des Lacs-Burlington). Losing that game allowed us to become closer for basketball season and hungrier to win the basketball region championship (since all the same girls were in both), but we lost that one too.

MDN: Your coach described you as “a floor general” on the volleyball court. How did you earn that title? What does it mean to you?

SU: I guess it means being a leader on the court by being vocal. It involves making sure my team comes together after every point, knowing rotations and what’s going on; picking my teammates up.

MDN: Your coach had some very kind words about you, leader and an inspiration, but probably the kindest compliment – leaving behind a transformed program that you’ve been fundamental in establishing – what does that mean and explain how you helped transform the volleyball program at Bishop Ryan?

SU: Mr. Theis has been my coach since my freshman year, so I know what he expects in terms of attitude and effort, and we were on the same page. Going to a small school like Bishop Ryan my whole life, everyone knows everyone. Most of these younger girls I have known for a long time or know their family and/or have helped coach them in summer camps, so it’s easy to be positive and encouraging towards them. I want them to get better and grow. Also, it’s easy because I just love volleyball and my teammates.

MDN: You were an outside hitter starting as a junior, can you describe what it feels like to hit the perfect spike?

SU: When Maggie would put it right on my hand.

MDN: Also, can you describe the perfect block and how that feels?

SU: Whenever you need it the most.

MDN: What does it feel like to get blocked? Can you describe it and how it motivates you?

SU: If it wasn’t my error, then getting blocked sucks. You think you are about to slam the ball and get a kill, but then the ball comes back on your court and you lose a point. But it definitely makes you not want to ever get blocked again and hit the ball harder next time.

MDN: You play both basketball and volleyball, which do you prefer and why?

SU: I hate being asked this question actually because I loved both sports and both my coaches.

MDN: What position did you play in basketball?

SU: I was listed as a forward.

MDN: Athletics aside, your stats are very impressive, but to me the 4.12 GPA is far more impressive. What motivates you in the classroom?

SU: I guess getting good grades is what motivates me in the classroom. I do it because I know I can and I should and I want to be successful.

MDN: Tell me about a teacher, outside of athletics, that has left a lasting impression and why you’ll remember them?

SU: The English teacher, Mr. Brewer. Right away, when he came to the school, he “was just loud” as a student teacher. A loud, aggressive man that would do anything for you and never hurt your feelings. Now he is the English teacher at Ryan and his room is the GO-TO room.

MDN: Favorite subject in school?

SU: Gym is my favorite.

MDN: Do you have any siblings?

SU: One older brother, Caden Upton, who graduated from Ryan in 2016.

MDN: Favorite food?

SU: Fruit.

MDN: Why Minot State?

SU: Atmosphere, home town and family. And I like the coach.

MDN: You’re undecided with your major, do you have any leanings at all toward a major?

SU: Possibly psychology and/or sports and exercise science.

MDN: Tell me something I need to know about you.

SU: I am kind of stubborn but very loyal.

MDN: In ten years, I see myself….

SU: I don’t know and I can’t answer that.

MDN: If you could go back and talk to five-year old Sydney Upton, what do you tell her and why?

SU: Just work as hard as you can is all.

MDN: Define character.

SU: What makes somebody who they are.

MDN: If I gave you a blank piece of paper, and told you, you can do anything with this paper to help me understand who you are. What do you do? (*hint* you can draw, you can write, you can make a paper hat. You have a blank canvas to describe yourself, what do you do/say?)

SU: I have no idea what I would do to explain myself through a piece of paper, I guess the stubborn side is showing through already.

MDN: What’s it like to be the daughter of a doctor? (Are there added pressures?)

SU: There are not added pressures but in fact benefits! If I am sick or hurt, I know it won’t be for longer than a couple days!


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