She recently stood side by side with a legend.
Well, sort of.
That legend happens to be one of the all-time NBA greats.
Someday, Lizzie Bickar may be revered as a once-in-a-generation superstar in a gymnasium she grew quite comfortable calling home for four years.
And since she plans to make the "Basketball Capital of the World" her future mailing address, it made all the more sense that hoops would remain in her blood for at least four more years.
Oddly enough, there is a surprising twist when it comes to the Tallmadge senior playmaker.
That’s because Bickar is ditching rubber for stainless steel.
When August arrives, the two-sport standout is going to enroll at a place Boston Celtics’ icon Larry Bird once made famous.
In this case, though, Bickar, a senior point guard who scored more than 1,000 points for the Blue Devils during her career, is not going to play basketball.
Instead, Bickar plans to make the links her cup of "tee" ... possibly for good.
Bickar recently signed a national letter of intent to continue her academic and golfing careers at Indiana State University, a public university in Terre Haute.
Bickar, who is undecided on her major, fell in love with the Sycamores at first sight. And oh yeah, she got to meet a certain Indiana State immortal too.
Not in the flesh, of course.
"I’m familiar with Larry Bird going to Indiana State," Bickar said. "I got a picture with his statue when I went out there.
"Indiana State was the only D1 school that I talked to and when I went on a visit, seeing the facilities and everything the school had to offer, I knew that’s where I wanted to go."
Bickar recently led Tallmadge’s girls basketball team to district play. The three-year starting point guard led her team in a number of statistical categories as the Blue Devils had a surprisingly successful season despite a number of new faces.
While hoops will always be Bickar’s first love, she has gained quite an affection for her second favorite hobby too.
Although she didn’t take the game too seriously until late in her eighth-grade year, Bickar proved to be a natural with the clubs as well.
Like she did on the basketball court, Bickar saved her best for last.
The four-year varsity standout won a Division I sectional title at Fox Den Golf Course in Stow during the fall. Bickar, who was the team’s top golfer for much of her career, led Tallmadge to a very respectable 12 wins in her final two years on the course.
Prior to Bickar’s arrival, such a high win total seemed downright impossible. That’s because the Blue Devils were once completely over their heads against their Suburban League rivals.
While the rugged American Conference has still shown its ferocious teeth, Tallmadge actually picked up a pair of conference victories during the fall.
A certain gifted two-time district qualifier certainly had something to do with it. Such a turnaround would not have been possible if not for a couple of very significant people in Bickar’s life.
They are her older brother, Nate, a 2014 graduate and her father, Brett, who had the best seat in the house to watch his highly-skilled daughter on the basketball court during the winter.
"My brother and my dad really got me into it because they played in high school and still go out with their friends, so it was something I could go do with them," Bickar said. "I really started enjoying it when I started competing with other golfers and meeting new friends.
"I started to get the hang of golf and take it more seriously the summer going into my junior year when I saw what I was able to do and achieve."
She "achieved" quite a bit.
Bickar set three school records during her senior year. She shot an 18-hole score of 74 at Brookledge Golf Club in Cuyahoga Falls, a nine-hole score of 32 at Sunny Hill Golf Course in Kent and a 3-under 35 on the par 38 Loyal Oak Golf Course in Norton.
Bickar also was part of two team records. Tallmadge set a nine-hole mark with a score of 172 during the fall and an 18-hole record of 374 in 2018.
Bickar’s game really took off when her current coach, Scott Campbell, was hired prior to the 2017 season.
"Her dad and I knew each other," Campbell said. "He asked me to give her lessons. I coached her from a distance. I saw a lot of potential. She has the ability to take instruction and apply it right away."
The Sycamores could use a savvy player like Bickar. Indiana State, which competes in the Missouri Valley Conference, had two third-place finishes and one fifth-place finish in a 2019-20 season that has been cut short, thanks to a deadly illness known as the coronavirus. The Sycamores’ final three matches of the spring have been cancelled.
Despite a not particularly fabulous résumé, Bickar was still smitten by her new school, which was founded in 1865.
"I did meet the coach and the team," she said. "Everyone was really nice and I could see myself joining their team. The campus had a good college feel because it wasn’t spread out throughout a city. Everything was right there."
A major reason why Bickar quickly became a force on the golf course was her ability to drive the ball further than most. Like just about anyone who has played the often fickle game that originated in 15th-century Scotland, though, Bickar’s short game could use a tune-up or two.
"That has been my biggest weakness throughout my career," she said.
Fortunately, there is plenty of time to fix those leaks. Pardon her opponents if they hardly noticed.
Prior to her senior year, Bickar was a member of the Junior Ryder Cup Team. She also qualified for the Optimist International Junior Golf Championship, which is scheduled to take place July 11-16 at Trump National Doral Resort and Spa in Miami.
"I talked to [former head girls coach] Mark Horner and [longtime head boys coach] Jon Shomo and none of us are sure if there has been a more decorated women’s golfer to graduate from Tallmadge High School," Campbell said.
One could make an argument that she had a rather decorated career on the court too. Don’t expect Bickar to put the basketball away for good. Considering Indiana’s wealth of hoops’ history, she’s bound to find a rim and a net somewhere.
"I’m going to miss basketball a lot, especially in games with my friends and teammates," Bickar said. "It has been something I’ve grown up playing my whole life and having my dad coach me this last season really meant a lot."
Her father’s urging to make the links a priority in the fall has meant a great deal to the versatile teenager, as well.
In the end, though, one person deserves more credit than anyone else when it comes to Bickar’s multitude of achievements in her second favorite sport.
That person happens to like dribbling, shooting and rebounding, as well. Seems only logical since he is an assistant coach with the boys basketball team.
"I wouldn’t be the player I am without Coach Campbell," Bickar said. "He always knows when to try something new or what's not working in my swing.
"He has also taught me a lot about the mental side of golf, which is a big part in playing the game. Coach Campbell will always help anyone with things that don’t have to do with sports. He has taught me and my team things about life and he does what’s best for others."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_Gannett.