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KSC Celebrates 40 Years of Women's Basketball

KEENE, N.H. 1/25/10 - There was a women’s basketball “homecoming” at Keene State College’s Spaulding Gym on Saturday, January 23, as former Owl players returned to the court they called home during their four years here for the 40-year celebration of the sport at the College.

Over 50 former players and four coaches representing the four decades of intercollegiate Owl women’s basketball were in attendance for the event that was culminated by a parade of players at halftime of KSC’s game against UMass- Boston. Teammates walked hand in hand as their names were read to a cheering crowd. Each player and coach represented a page of Keene State athletic history.

Back in the stands, players got a chance to catch up with teammates and reminisce about their days wearing the red and white of Keene State.

“It’s very exciting to come back see some of my teammates,” said Laura Bennett Kules ‘92, Keene State’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. “I told my dad on the way here that coming to Keene State was one of the best things I ever did.”

“I had four great years at Keene State. I wouldn’t trade them for anything,” said Megan Jalbert Kivela ‘00.

Several of the players returned with husbands, partners, and baskets full of children. “I got to show my children where I played,” beamed Nicole Fargione Cornell ‘02.

Noted for their marksmanship behind the arc while playing at KSC, Fred Fieldhouse ‘01 and Hayley Alaimo Fieldhouse ‘03 were on hand, along with their six-month-old son Ty. Asked if Ty was going to going to grow up and be a record-breaking three-point shooter like his parents, a smiling Haley responded, “He’d better or he’s in trouble.”

For some players, a walk on the court was like a walk down memory lane. “It was very nostalgic,” said Michelle Ziegler Bennett ‘90. “It was a little overwhelming. I could see myself alone in the gym practicing.”

“We’re sitting in the stands watching the women’s game and just remembering what it was like when we were here,” said Stephanie Nostrand Herlihy ‘73. “The game is a lot more competitive and the uniforms are much nicer.”

Past coaches like Kay Saucier ‘64, Chuck Sweeney ‘74, MEd ‘79, and John Lemieux got a chance to reconnect with their former players and talk about their role in building the program.

“It’s a gift to come back and see my players,” said Saucier, who began the program in 1969-70.

“I feel good that a few of my players got inducted in the KSC Hall of Fame and became 1,000-point scorers,” said Sweeney. “When you see that, you know you recruited the right players.”

“It’s great to catch up and share the memories, but also to see what they’ve done,” said Lemieux, who led the Owls to a pair of ECAC Division II championships. “One of the reasons people coach is to give their players some knowledge about the game or life before they move on. I hope I did that with my players.”

The lessons and the history of the day weren’t lost on the participants.

“I’m here with people that were really important to me when I was a young adult,” said Chris Landry ‘79. “It’s nice to see the young women here who are reaping the benefits of the people that came before them.”

“It was awesome seeing the long line of players who put in the hard work and commitment that it takes to play at the collegiate level,” said Bri Barnes ‘07. “It’s a really proud moment for me.”

“It was a special and very humbling experience, because the people that were here basically built the foundation of the program,” said current coach Keith Boucher. “My players heard all the stories about the past teams and now they were able to put a face to those names. They’re the present right now, but some day they’re going to be the past.”

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Keene, New Hampshire 03435