Photo courtesy D.King of Images
Pulaski High School junior Sheridan Flauger (#4) pressures a Southwest High School player during a matchup against the Trojans January 31. Flauger, an excellent student-athlete, has already committed to play college basketball at UW-Parkside.
The Pulaski Red Raiders varsity girls basketball team has a gem in the form of Oneida Nation citizen Sheridan Flauger. Flauger, 17, while still only a high school junior, has already earned her position as a team captain and is well on her way to playing at the collegiate level. And not only has she been a force on the basketball court on game nights, Flauger has also excelled academically in the classroom.
“I have to say my dad has always been a big influence on me,” Flauger said. “He would always push me to the max even if I didn’t want to be pushed. He would always encourage me to participate in sports because he knew I wanted to go to college for basketball. My mom also had the skill work because she played basketball in high school, so she also helped me out with learning ball handling skills.
“There were four boys that grew up across the street from me and they would never let me win,” Flauger said. “I had to fight for everything with them whether it be sports, video games, and even academics. I could never win with them. There have been so many people that influenced me growing up including all my coaches.”
“We started playing ball with Sheridan right out of the gate when she was young,” her father, Dan, said. “She was around athletics all the time. At first she was really big into softball because she was always following her mom and myself when we would play. From there it became basketball, but she’s done just about everything in sports, including her strength training at Bellin Titletown Fitness.”
“Sheridan always had a smile on her face when she was growing up,” her mother, Sherry, said. “She’s always very happy, kind, good-hearted, and she loves to help people. She’s volunteered at Golden House, Paul’s Pantry, and she’s an animal lover so she’s helped babysit dogs in our neighborhood. She’s just an all-around good kid.”
“My mom has always been the person that I turn to with any problems in school or even basketball,” Flauger said. “If I don’t do well on a test or have a rough game, she always has my back. She’s very comforting and always makes me feel so much better because she knows what I’m capable of and she just wants me to do my best. Both of my parents are willing to do anything for me and I love that about them.”
Pulaski Red Raiders Head Basketball Coach Doug McElrone has high praise for his star junior. “This is my first year coaching at Pulaski but I’ve coached Sheridan in other leagues since she was in about sixth grade,” McElrone said. “As far as academics go, she’s one of those students that leads by example. She’s extremely reliable and a great leader in the classroom and on the court. She’s one of the kids where you never have to worry about her grades, and her time management skills with academics and playing ball are superb and she does it with ease.
“We have two seniors and Sheridan serving as team captains,” McElrone said. “I’ve explained to her that she’s not the third option on this team and she’s really starting to become our first option. She makes everybody go and the other kids fully see that now. I’m not so sure Sheridan sees that just yet, but when this really clicks for her it’s going to be a pretty cool thing to see. Seeing the jump from her sophomore year to now was pretty amazing and she now leads the team in assists and steals. She makes us go and the other kids know that and respect her. Not many of them want to guard her during practice, let’s just put it that way. I think she understands what’s going to be asked of her next year and I believe she’s going to take the challenge and run with it, because there’s no doubt she’ll be the leader of this team.”
During a basketball tournament in Minnesota in 2018, UW-Parkside Women’s Basketball Head Coach Jen Conely took notice of Flauger’s skills on the court, and a full basketball scholarship offer soon followed even though she won’t graduate from high school until 2021. “When she first saw me she thought I was in the Class of 2019,” Flauger said. “But then she found out I was in the Class of 2021 so it worked out really well for her, and she’s kept in contact with me.”
Both Dan and Sherry are immensely proud of how their daughter has grown into such an exceptional athlete, but they are equally thrilled with her academic performance in the classroom. The fact that Sheridan also helps tutor others only adds to her parent’s pride. “She’s knocking out some of her A.P. courses at Pulaski while prepping for college, and volunteered over at Hillcrest Elementary’s After School Program and helped kids with their math homework,” Dan said. “She’s involved with the Purple Aces Basketball Club and Pulaski’s LEO Club and they’ve made it a point to ensure they go out as a team into the community and volunteer, so if you were to look at her schedule you’d see she doesn’t have a whole lot of free time.”
Flauger’s love for all things basketball has piqued her interest in a possible career in sports medicine. “I really like sports so I want to stay in that field,” Flauger said. “Athletic training in particular is the idea I’m thinking of right now.”
With the roadmap to her future almost completely paved, Flauger has advice for students who want to become more involved in athletics. “I’d like them to keep working hard and never give up,” Flauger said. “It doesn’t matter how tall or small you are because I’m small and I pushed through it. You just have to find a way and find your strength.”
For those in the community looking to improve the overall quality of their children’s lives, the Flaugers also have some excellent advice. “Be a part of whatever they’re doing,” Dan and Sherry said. “Give them opportunities in whatever they’re interested in. Be there and support them. We see a lot of parents just drop their kids off and the coach is like a babysitter for a few hours. Parents can help their kids stay focused and well-rounded simply by being involved with them.”
“I want to thank the community for always having my back,” Sheridan said. “Everybody has always supported me and never pushed me down. I see my dad’s Facebook page and all of his friends are so supportive of me and it just feels really good.”