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West Chester snags Spring-Ford's Aaliyah Solliday

05/17/2024, 10:30am EDT
By Owen McCue

By Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

While her ability to put her talents on display was taken away, Aaliyah Solliday’s goal remained the same.

She wanted to play at the next level.

A torn ACL cost Solliday her junior season at Spring-Ford and kept her from full form for most of the following summer, unable to showcase her game in full to college coaches.

Instead of any doubts or discouragement, Solliday’s desire to achieve her mission only grew stronger as she worked her way back from injury.

“It was definitely stressful at times, but then I was like it’ll be fine, everything will work out how it needs to,” Solliday said. “And I tried to keep working and pushing myself to be the better version of me.”

She kept pushing and pushing all the way to a commitment to West Chester two weeks ago, ready to continue her basketball career with the Golden Rams.

Spring-Ford guard Aaliyah Solliday announced her commitment to West Chester earlier this month. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)

“There’s definitely people who realize it’s maybe not the sport for them or maybe they just want to focus on something different (after an injury),” Solliday said. “But me, I just wanted to focus on getting back and getting to where I wanted to be, which is at college and that’s where I am now.”

Solliday was one of four senior starters at Spring-Ford this season along with Anna Azzara, Mac Pettinelli and Katie Tiffan. They were part of a core that won a Pioneer Athletic Conference championship and went to the District 1-6A title game as sophomores and added to numerous individual and team accolades with runner-up finishes in the PAC, District 1 and PIAA tournaments in their last hurrah together.

Azzara (Wright State), Pettinelli (St. Bonaventure) and Tiffan (Lynn) had their college choices picked out well before the start of the 2023-24 season, but Solliday needed her final campaign to show coaches what she could do.

She wasn’t fully pursued by West Chester coach Kiera Wooden and her staff until Spring-Ford’s second to last game of the season when Solliday put up 16 points in a state semifinal win over Garnet Valley — which followed 25 in the second round against Peters Twp. and 13 in the quarterfinals against Norwin.

“I had a really good overall game that game,” Solliday said.

Solliday’s other top choice was Lock Haven and after a visit to campus she began to envision herself as an Eagle. But despite the late recruitment her trip to West Chester on May 3 proved to her the Golden Rams were the right fit.

“When I called (Wooden), I liked her energy and I felt like we already had a really good relationship,” Solliday said. “Then when I went to visit it felt so right. I was like this is where I’m supposed to go. This is where I belong.”

Solliday averaged 6.0 ppg as a sophomore at Spring-Ford. An ACL injury in the fall of 2022 cost her her junior campaign and kept her out of official game action for eight months until the June live period last summer — albeit still limited.

Despite the bulky brace on her knee, she continued to get stronger throughout the winter and was a big piece in Spring-Ford’s deep postseason runs. 

In her senior season, Solliday averaged 10.9 ppg and 2.2 apg and knocked down a team-high 54 threes. 

Her ability to shoot from deep and pile up points in a flurry was an X-factor for the Rams. It’s one of the elements Wooden foresees Solliday continuing to bring to West Chester.

“They like my ability of how I can score, and they like how I can put the ball on the ground and they like how I have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder,” Solliday said. “I’m kind of a gritty player I guess you could say.”

Solliday is one of three committed recruits for West Chester along with Mainland (N.J.)’s Bella and Ava Mazur. They will join a program that won 24 games and went to the NCAA Tournament for the second season in a row and earned a national ranking at one point last season.

There are big holes to fill, however, including the program’s all-time scoring and assists leader Leah Johnson. 

PW grads Anna McTamney and Erin Daley, who Solliday faced off against in the district title game as a sophomore, are among the candidates to step up next year.

“The team was so welcoming, the coach, they were all so welcoming,” Solliday said of her initial impression of the Golden Rams. “They were a really good group to be around.”

West Chester plays a style that incorporates some freedom and fast pace on offense and pressure on defense, which Solliday thinks suits her game. One of her focuses will be continuing to hone in on her shot to become not just a catch-and-shoot weapon but someone who can consistently pull-up from deep and knock down shots on the move.

Along with getting to know her new teammates, one of the things she’s looking most forward to next year is challenging herself at a higher level.

She’s proven she’s ready to work hard to make sure she’s up for it.

“I feel like it’s a big accomplishment for me from not being able to play my junior year to now being committed to play at a college,” Solliday said. “That’s what I always wanted, and it just feels good to reach my goal.”

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