As many already know, Mrs. Dexter became a new addition to the LFHS Business Department of the high school in the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. Teaching at a collection of other schools in her past, she decided to make her way down to Lake Forest High School earlier this fall where she instantly fell in love with the students, faculty, and resources that our school has to offer.
Though teaching is a huge part of who Mrs. Dexter is currently, it was not always the case. Before Mrs. Dexter became a teacher, she was primarily classified, self-admittedly, as a “jock.” For as long as she can remember, Mrs Dexter lived and breathed sports. It’s who she was and ultimately what she was best at. Having grown up with a father who was a Boys Varsity High School Basketball Coach at state powerhouse Moline High School, she was surrounded by sports at a young age. Not participating wasn’t an option; it was simply the way she was raised. As a child she gladly attended her father’s practices, games, and the IHSA Class AA Boys Basketball State Tournament every year.
In asking Mrs. Dexter what truly inspired her to start playing basketball, she plainly responded, “Playing basketball in my future was inevitable. I was raised around a group of boys who loved every aspect of the game. Seeing the excitement each and every one of them had before a game was contagious. I mean, after seeing that, how could I not end up playing basketball? I wanted to reach the same passion for the game that they all had, and luckily I did.”
Mrs. Dexter started her basketball career playing on a YMCA Biddy Basketball team in 1st grade. From there, she kept playing up through middle school and eventually reaching the high school level. It wasn’t until high school when Dexter really began to form a true passion for the sport. As a freshman at Moline High School, she was moved up to play on the sophomore team and soon got moved up to the varsity for their postseason. That year, her team made it to the IHSA Class AA girls Elite 8 where they played at Redbird Arena on the Illinois State University’s campus. Though they lost in the first round, this was a huge turning point in Mrs. Dexter’s basketball career. It wasn’t until after this season that Mrs. Dexter really began to consider playing basketball at the Division 1 intercollegiate level.
The summer after her freshman year, her team played at the Maine West summer tournament. After playing extremely well against some of the most elite players in the state, she started getting noticed by college coaches. From there, she began going to All-Star and Blue Chip basketball camps during the summer, allowing her to get much more exposure to high level play and cater to increasing recruiting demands. For the rest of her high school career, Mrs. Dexter played basketball at the Varsity level. Though they never made it back to the Elite 8 in those years, they did make it to Sweet Sixteen her sophomore year and the sectional semifinals in both her junior and senior campaigns.
Though Mrs. Dexter was clearly gifted when it comes to the sport of basketball, it wasn’t the only passion that she had in her life. In high school, Mrs. Dexter was a 3 sport athlete (basketball, softball, and volleyball). In her summers, Mrs. Dexter was heavily involved in playing ASA softball and played close to 100 games throughout the spring and into the summer. Growing up, she originally thought she would play D1 softball in college until she started receiving D1 offers for basketball in her senior year. When theUniversity of Illinois offered her a basketball scholarship, it was too difficult to pass up.
“I had so many fond memories of going to the boys’ state basketball championships in Champaign and the thought of getting the opportunity to play on the same floor as so many elite high school and college basketball players was so enticing. It was something that I couldn’t pass up–it was too good to be true.”
Playing basketball in the Big 10, one of the premiere conferences in the country, took an immense amount of dedication and time. While she certainly enjoyed being part of the team and meeting so many amazing teammates, it was a lot more labor than she ever could have anticipated. She felt like she had 2 full-time jobs in college–one being a student and the other, a competitive athlete.
Though it took specific, organized, and detailed time management, at the end of the day it was worth every second of it. Being part of the University of Illinois women’s basketball team taught her a lot more than just the sport; it allowed her to be a part of something much bigger than herself. She was taught how to work with others, persevere through early setbacks, and overcome adversity; but most importantly, it taught Dexter not to back down from failure. After each loss, she had to learn to rise above the difficulties and move forward learning something from each situation. Ultimately, that’s what separates a good athlete from a great athlete.
As of now, basketball is still a part of her life, but not as much as when she first starting out in her teaching career. Mrs. Dexter used to coach girls high school basketball, but after having 3 kids, the time commitment became too much for her to continue. She certainly would love to coach again, but it would have to be the right situation. After taking a hiatus from her coaching career, Mrs. Dexter continues to still be involved in the game by helping run her dad’s high school boys summer camps. No matter how hard she tries, she just can’t stay out of the gym. When she’s not in the gym, she spends her free time either with her family or watching college basketball on television.
She’s a huge fan of both men’s and women’s basketball and spends many of her weekends watching the University of Illinois or the Wisconsin Badgers, her two favorite teams. Though basketball isn’t currently a huge part of her everyday life in terms of coaching or playing, it is and will always be a major part of who she is–that is something that will never change.