Former Gillette standout ready for new endeavor at Northwest

Posted 11/12/20

Sydney Prather couldn’t have predicted everything that has occurred in her 2020 offseason.

Prather saw her freshman season at Gillette College come to an end in March, just before the …

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Former Gillette standout ready for new endeavor at Northwest

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Sydney Prather couldn’t have predicted everything that has occurred in her 2020 offseason.

Prather saw her freshman season at Gillette College come to an end in March, just before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. Just three months later, she lost her team, as the college announced it was cutting nearly all of its athletic programs.

“I was destroyed,” Prather said. “It was pretty hard to take, knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to be with my teammates and coaches again. With what we were looking forward to, it was hard to know that we weren’t going to be together.”

In her only season at Gillette, Prather averaged 12.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, which ranked third and first on the team, respectively. The 5-foot-10 combo guard from Big Timber, Montana, was a key piece for a Pronghorn team that went 28-5.

Despite her first-year success, Prather initially didn’t play basketball in the upcoming year.

Instead, she pondered taking a “gap” year off classes or going on a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She ultimately decided to go back to Gillette to just take classes, and from her first day back on campus, it just felt strange.

“It’s been a different experience in Gillette, not having as many people on campus,” Prather said. “Learning how to deal with my emotions without my team has been hard.”

She missed basketball.

“It kept me busy; it kept me happy,” Prather said.

From around the time she could walk, Prather has been around the game. Though she didn’t plan on playing this year, being absent from the sport for several months brought her back into the sport.

“It’s a part of who I am, so I decided I had to play somewhere,” she said.

The guard had several offers on the table when she decided to return to the basketball court, with various schools across the country reaching out. But Prather put an emphasis on staying near home, so she ruled out several due to their distance.

Then Northwest College made an offer. NWC is a competitive NJCAA program and is just over two hours from Prather’s hometown, so the school immediately stuck out.

Once she stepped foot on campus, Prather knew she was meant to be a Trapper.

“There’s a winning atmosphere here, and that’s what I was looking for,” Prather said. “I felt welcomed on the team, and that’s what did it for me.”

Prather’s addition is huge for Northwest’s program. She’s another physical scorer with strong leadership on an already-talented team.

From the moment former Gillette coach Liz Lewis contacted NWC coach Camden Levett about the guard, he knew Prather was a recruit the team had to land.

“Sydney’s a tough-nosed kid; she does it all,” Levett said of Prather. “She helped the team win there [in Gillette]. She’s just a hungry kid when you talk to her. She wants to get better, personally and as a team.”

As a former NJCAA Region IX opponent, Prather is familiar with NWC’s program, having played (and defeated) the Trappers twice last season.

“It’s weird,” Prather said.

She also played against another current Trapper last year: Sheridan College transfer Shelby Tarter. Because of Gillette’s and Sheridan’s history as adversaries, Prather and Tarter had a bit of a rivalry in their two meetings last season.

“Not going to lie, we didn’t like to play each other last year,” Prather said. “Me and Shelby always guarded each other all of the time, so there were times when we’d score on each other. It makes you mad when someone scores on you; you don’t like that.”

But Prather doesn’t expect this to affect the duo’s chemistry as teammates.

“I think that’s how it is with everybody,” Prather said. “When you’re on the same team, you respect each other on another level.”

Coach Levett said Prather will be a key contributor in the upcoming season, playing a significant role on both sides of the court and logging plenty of minutes every game. The transfer’s goal at her new school is simple: help the team improve.

“I love to work hard, and I love to help people get better,” Prather said. “It’s not just about me; it’s about everybody. As a leader, that’s what it takes to better your team.”

Though Prather has found a new home, these past several months have been hard, with significant roadblocks placed in Prather’s way.

But the people closest to her have allowed Prather to rise and find a new path out of it all.

“I just want to thank my family and my Gillette coaches for supporting me and helping me find a new place to play,” she said. “I don’t know what I’d do without them.”

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