For Allison Gida, change was good.
The former Ashland High basketball standout spent her first two years of college at NCAA Division I Utah, where she rarely saw the court. The thrill of signing with a big school gradually turned to frustration and Gida transferred last year to Southern Oregon University.
Ever since, the versatile senior has been happily adjusting to the differences.
For one, the Raiders practice earlier — much earlier — at 6 a.m. three times a week. For another, she has continued to play a key role for SOU (11-1), which is No. 17 in the latest NAIA rankings.
"There are some things I miss, but when it comes down to basketball I don't miss it at all," Gida says. "I really enjoy being here."
And the Raiders have enjoyed having Gida, who has averaged 10.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 steals in 10 games.
She's the team's oldest player at 22. She may be the most versatile: SOU head coach Lynn Kennedy has used the 5-foot-11 Gida at point guard, shooting guard, small forward and power forward. And she's certainly one of the toughest, facing several setbacks that haven't slowed her much.
On most Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, she rises at 5 a.m. and arrives at the training room by 5:15. By 5:45, she and her teammates are warming up and Kennedy is usually coming in.
The team scrimmages almost every practice, keeping the pace fast and fun. That style seems to translate well in actual games, where SOU averages 88.9 points a contest.
"She is really supportive and motivational to me," says teammate Kiara Moore, the squad's only other senior and Gida's housemate. "She brings a lot of intensity and tempo to the team."
On Wednesdays and Sundays, the Raiders pump iron under the direction of Allison's father Stan Gida, a former professional football player and personal trainer. Stan asked if he could help the squad when Gida joined the club.
Gida had ankle surgery before coming to SOU and, after a mostly healthy junior campaign in Ashland, found herself a bit banged up early this year. She experienced Achilles tendonitis before the start of the season and, in the team's opener, pulled a quadriceps muscle. While trying to compensate, she injured a groin.
She has been back to about full health the last two weeks, she said.
Suffice it to say, staying on the court is important to her.
"I don't want to miss out," she says. "This is my last year."
Coming back home last season after two years in Salt Lake City felt right, she says.
"It felt great," she says. "It felt like I connected right away with the team and the style of play and I like Lynn as a coach. That just added to everything."
The results have followed for the Raiders, who are off to a hot start despite their youth with just two seniors, five freshmen, four sophomores and four juniors. SOU's only loss was a 82-76 setback against Lewis-Clark State on Nov. 15. The club is 6-0 at home. Along with Gida, Carly Meister has helped lead the charge with 14.3 points and 8.3 rebounds a night.
"Everyone on the team is competitive," Gida says. "Everyone is hard-working. Age isn't a factor."
Gida hopes to someday play internationally, perhaps in Australia. She has already been to Mexico and France.
For now, she is focused on home.
"This team can go really far," Gida says.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email email@example.com. Find him online at twitter.com/dljcards or facebook.com/danjonesmt
For Allison Gida, change was good.