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The next generation

Late 80’s softball and basketball star a part of sports hall of fame’s newest class

April 27, 2009
The Alpena News



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Tara Sherman was a standout basketball and softball player for Alpena High in the late 80’s. She went on to Alma College and helped the Scots win a Division II?basketball national championship.

The idea of speaking in front of a large audience doesn't exactly thrill Tara Sherman.

So when Sherman gets up to give her speech during her induction into the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, somebody might want to throw her a basketball or softball.

Having the ball in her hands is where Sherman excels best and it's why she's joining Patti Mercer-Dixon, Al Senchuk and Bob Kuchnicki in this year's class of hall of fame inductees.

Fact Box

Class of 2008

  • Patti Mercer-Dixon
  • Tara Sherman
  • Bob Kuchnicki
  • Al Senchuk

One of Alpena High's greatest basketball and softball players, Sherman represents a younger generation of athletic standouts from Alpena going into the hall of fame, having graduated from high school less than 20 years ago.

"It's a surprise," Sherman said of her induction. "I still feel like I'm a young athlete, but they chose to put me in."

There's no question as to why, either.

Sherman won six letters for AHS, three each in softball and basketball. She was an all-conference performer as a junior on the hardwood, and was the team's co-MVP and an all-area first team pick in her senior year for a team that ended up 18-4.

She also was an all-area standout in softball in her senior year, leading a team that went 31-2 and won a district title with a .315 batting average, 30 runs scored and 26 runs batted in.

Not surprisingly, Sherman was named the school's Female Athlete of the Year in 1990.

Wayne State, Lake Superior State, Albion, Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan showed interest in Sherman coming out of high school, but she elected to attend Alma and it's a decision she'd never regret.

"The big draw to Alma for me was sports," Sherman said. "It wasn't too far from home and it was a small school. I liked the personal touch of being able to have 1-on-1s with professors and coaches. The coaches really seemed like they cared."

Competing in two sports, Sherman reached the pinnacle of her athletic career on the basketball court at Alma. In her sophomore year she helped the Scots to a shocking run to the NCAA Division II women's basketball national championship.

"It's an experience I'll never forget," she said. "The players I played with will be lifelong friends. I still keep in contact with five or six of them. It's the greatest accomplishment I've ever felt in sports. We were underdogs right from the start."

Sherman, a forward, played a vital role in Alma's win over Eau Claire in the first game of the tournament, tipping in a missed free throw with 33 seconds left. The run continued with an 81-80 victory over Luther College in the Final Four, setting up a game against Moravian College for the championship. Moravian brought a 43-game winning streak into the contest, but Alma was not to be denied as the Scots completed their magical journey with a 79-75 win.

Among her list of individual accomplishments, Sherman earned the school's coaches award as a freshman and was picked second team all-conference as a sophomore. In softball, she was a second team all-conference selection at first base and was picked as the league's Rookie of the Year after batting .400 in conference games and .352 overall.

A top student, Sherman went on to earn a masters degree in physical therapy, which led her to her current job at Alpena Regional Medical Center. As a physical therapist, Sherman spends her days dealing with the public and her induction into the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame has been a hot topic of conversation.

"It will be a fun night," she said. "My family and I are well-known in the community. I hear a lot about it (the induction ceremony). I'm nervous about it."



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