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Notre Dame’s Opichka commits to St. Thomas

By Rich Palzewic
Sports Editor

GREEN BAY – Notre Dame Academy senior basketball player Sammy Opichka has committed to the University of St. Thomas, a Division I college in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Opichka, a three-year starter for the Tritons, averaged 15.5 points per game her junior year.

The 5-foot-11 Opichka was named first-team all-conference after her junior season.

“When I was a freshman at Notre Dame, I didn’t know if I wanted to compete collegiately,” said Sammy, the daughter of Heather and Peter Opichka. “After my sophomore year, I decided to join the Wisconsin Flight Elite AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) team in the summer, and it blossomed my recruiting process. I talked to lots of different schools and coaches.”

Even though it was fun, Opichka said she’s glad the recruiting process is over.

“It got stressful,” she said. “It was cool to get to know so many coaches and schools, but I’m glad it’s over and happy with my decision.”

Opichka said St. Thomas, which will be competing at the Division I level for the first time during the 2021-22 season, “checked all her boxes” when it came to deciding where to attend college.

“They have a great coaching staff, I loved the campus, it’s near my sister, who attends the University of Minnesota, and it will be fun playing for a first-year Division I program,” she said. “They also have a great mentoring program.”

Opichka also had an offer from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and was also in talks with UW-Madison, Davidson, Villanova and Boston University.

She said she considered UWGB but ultimately wanted to experience a different area.

“Coach (Kevin) Borseth at UWGB is an amazing coach and put me on the map with my first Division I offer last summer,” said Opichka. “I didn’t want to stay quite this close to home.”

Before she heads to St. Paul next summer, Opichka, Charley Apple and Georgia Gregoire are three of the main cogs looking to bring a state title to Notre Dame this season.

“We’re excited,” Opichka said. “We were put into an AAU tournament about a month ago and competed well. Charley, Georgia and I play well together, so hopefully, it’s our year. We have some great freshmen joining the team, too.”

Sara Rhode, a native of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and a former standout player at UWGB, is the head coach at Notre Dame.

“Sara is an amazing coach and pushes me to be my best,” said Opichka. “She’s dedicated to the team.”

Rhode said St. Thomas is a perfect fit for her star player.

“We are all happy and excited for Sammy,” she said. “She’s worked hard for this opportunity, and she’s a player who has huge upside – she’s young for her age and has bought into getting stronger. She can have lots of success there.”

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