July 22, 2011
Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — When Melissa Dixon was deciding what university to attend, she was looking for a “feeling.” It took four visits to get that “feeling”, but Dixon saved the best for last.
Dixon, a 5-8 freshman guard on the University of Iowa women’s basketball team, took official visits to Marquette, DePaul and Vanderbilt before making the trip to Iowa City last year in late August. Once she stepped on campus, Dixon knew she wanted to be a Hawkeye.
“I just loved the campus as soon as I got to Iowa City,” Dixon said. “I got that feeling. I knew it was where I wanted to go.”
The Johnsburg, Ill., native knew Iowa was the place, but there was one thing missing — a scholarship. The Iowa coaching staff offered Dixon a chance to grey shirt, meaning she would have to pay her own way and not play in her first year at the UI. She would then have the next four years to be on scholarship and officially be on the roster.
Dixon could have gone to any of the other schools and played right away, but that connection to Iowa was strong enough to accept the grey shirt offer.
“I could have played at another school right away,” Dixon said. “But there were things at those schools that didn’t feel right. It was a hard decision at first, but I didn’t want to go somewhere and play immediately and end up not being happy. I knew I would be happy at Iowa.”
According to Dixon, the coaches stood out just as much as the campus.
“The coaches at Iowa were my favorite out of any schools that I visited,” Dixon said. “They were extremely nice, and I felt like I could go to them with any problems I had.”
Dixon verbally committed to Iowa in September. She received an early birthday present in November in the form of a voicemail from head coach Lisa Bluder.
Just two days before Dixon’s birthday, she noticed a voicemail on her cell phone after a high school basketball practice. It was a message from coach Bluder asking Dixon to call her back. Dixon went back home and called the Hawkeye head coach. Bluder offered Dixon a full-ride scholarship over the phone.
“I was so excited when they called,” Dixon said. “I was at home with my parents when I called coach Bluder back and she told me they were offering me a scholarship. We were all so excited.”
With a scholarship from Iowa signed, sealed and delivered, Dixon went on to an outstanding senior season at Johnsburg High School. She broke the McHenry County record for most career points, by a male or female, with 2,146. She also set school records with 276 career 3-pointers and 273 career steals.
The previous scoring record at Johnsburg High School was held by a player with the last name Hawkeye football fans might recognize; Fiedorowicz. Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz is from Johnsburg and his sister, Paige, held the scoring record before playing Division I basketball at Marquette.
Dixon and Fiedorowicz are friends, and Dixon even consulted the Hawkeye football player about life at Iowa.
“I actually see him about every day now at study table in the Learning Center,” Dixon said. “I talked to him about Iowa and he really enjoyed it. I even saw him randomly on campus during my official visit.”
Fiedorowicz isn’t the only familiar face for Dixon at Iowa. Fellow freshmen guard Samantha Logic and Dixon were AAU teammates. Dixon is thrilled to have Logic as a teammate for the next four years.
“It’s a lot of fun playing with Sam,” Dixon said. “We got to know each other’s games very well. She always picks everyone up. Sam is a great passer and always finishes at the rim. She’s a great player.”
Logic may finish at the rim, but Dixon is known for deadly 3-point range. Style of play at Iowa was a big selling point for Dixon.
“I felt like I could fit into the Iowa system really well,” Dixon said. “The coaches explained how they like to play, and I really wanted to be a part of that.”
Even though 3-point shooting is Dixon’s strength, she hopes Hawkeye fans notice another part of her game. She doesn’t want to be known as just a shooter.
“I would hope people say that I’m aggressive,” Dixon said. “I like to play tough defense and always seem to pick up a foul or two or dive after a loose ball.”
Dixon and her aggressive style of play arrived on campus in June, and she is currently taking summer classes. Now as an official student-athlete at Iowa, Dixon believes Iowa lived up to her expectations.
“It has been really busy with school and basketball, but it has been really good,” Dixon said of her first summer in Iowa City. “I’ve really enjoyed it. I like to shop and downtown Iowa City has some great places.”
Dixon is happy to call Iowa City home and is excited to be living out a childhood dream.
“You always dream about playing Division I basketball when you are younger,” Dixon said. “It’s actual reality now. It’s a lot of work but it pays off.”
From a grey shirt offer to a full-ride scholarship, Dixon’s road to Iowa City has been unique. When she stepped on to Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena and put on a black and gold practice jersey for the first time that “feeling” came back all over again.
“It just felt right,” Dixon said. “I knew this is where I belonged.”