Ever since she was little, Sulphur native Bailee Eldred has been around a court of some kind.

Ever since she was little, Sulphur native Bailee Eldred has been around a court of some kind.

Throughout her middle and high school days, it was a basketball court for the Sulphur Lady Bulldogs.

With her playing days for the Northeastern State University Lady Riverhawks now finished though, Eldred can focus on moving into a new kind of court, a courtroom.

Beginning this fall, Eldred will trade her basketball shoes for dress shoes as she begins chasing her childhood dream of becoming an attorney at the Oklahoma City University School of Law. 

“I am so excited about the next chapter of my life,” Eldred said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled about attending Oklahoma City University School of Law. I know law school takes discipline and dedication, and basketball has equipped me with those skills. I can’t wait to see where God takes me in this new career path.” 

If there was ever such a thing as going out on top, Eldred did that during her senior season at Northeastern State. 

Eldred finished with her highest scoring average of her college career with 11.8 points per game, while averaging 7.5 rebounds per game this season, while also finishing with 24 steals for the season.

The stats were a huge improvement from her junior year, where Eldred averaged 8.1 points per game with 5.1 rebounds and 21 steals for the campaign. 

She was also able to surpass the 1,000 point mark for her college career on Feb. 16 in a game against Emporia State in Emporia, Kansas. 

Eldred’s senior season brought an end to a college basketball career which began at Murray State College in Tishomingo, where the former Lady Bulldogs standout averaged nine points and 5.2 rebounds as a freshman, before going for 8.5 points and four rebounds per game as a sophomore. 

“Basketball has not only been an outlet I could focus all of my energy into, but it’s been a lifestyle as well,” Eldred said. “Being a college athlete is way busier than just having a normal job. It’s been the most enjoyable job I’ve ever had or will ever have. This experience has brought me more friendships than I could have ever imagined.” 

“This game has brought me defeat that was so hard to swallow I couldn’t sleep at night,” Eldred added. 

“It’s taken me through so many trials, but all of these trials have made me a better person. I’ve become more resilient and more aware of what I’m capable of accomplishing.” 

Perhaps the most special moment of this season though didn’t come for Eldred as a player, but rather as a fan.

For the first time since her sophomore year in 2013, the Sulphur Lady Bulldogs advanced to the Class 3A state tournament this season. 

The accomplishment brought Bailee’s journey full circle as she was able to attend the state quarterfinal game at Oklahoma City University, and get to watch her mom Tracy along with head coach Toby Todd coach the Lady Bulldogs. 

“Getting to watch Sulphur make the girls state tournament was so special for me,” Eldred said. 

“Those girls were the ones cheering us on when we won state in 2013, and I was so happy getting to return the favor and cheer them on this time around. It was a different kind of happy for me being back at the state tournament as a spectator. Seeing them brought me a different kind of joy getting to seem them do what they love. I was a very proud alumni watching the girls and the coaches.” 

“The culture that Coach (Toby) Todd and my mom have brought to Sulphur girls basketball is special,” Eldred said. “They pour so much time into the program and it shows. They’re both about so much more than the game and they really emphasize helping grow the girls into strong Christian women. That’s something that is so rare and so special these days.” 

While she might be moving into the next chapter of her life this fall, Eldred said that she will never forget certain things about the sport which has made her the person she is today.

“I’m so thankful for all the coaches and influential people who have been alongside me during this journey,” Eldred said. “There were so many people that took a chance on me and devoted so much time to developing my skills, and making me the woman I am today.”

“There’s two things I’m going to miss the most about basketball,” Eldred added. 

“One of them is lacing up my shoes and being on the court in the Event Center at Northeastern State University. The other thing I will miss is leading by example and demonstrating the work ethic that I developed and crafted in all of my years playing the game. I can honestly say I have given basketball everything I had.”