Game day with the faded blue

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It was a day of competition and nostalgia at Bethel College Women’s Basketball program’s annual Alumni Day. Rekindled memories and rediscovered muscles returned along with a whopping 31 former players for game day 2010. “All the thrills and chills from the yester-year players,” chuckled Assistant Coach Jim Arnold. Saturday marked number thirteen in a history of match-ups between rookie and veteran Lady Pilots. Bridging the gap since 1998, Alumni Day collides current and past generations in a whirlwind of laughing, competing and reminiscing. Players, families and friends spanning all times and ages trickled into Weikamp, some gracing the bleachers and others lacing up once again. A little throw back to AC/DC and Michael Jackson set the tone for the Generation X-ers and Millennials, during their pre-game warm-ups. “You know you’re old when all the elastic’s ripped out of your basketball shorts and you’ve only got one pair remaining,” said former guard Shallon Bowden. Chiseled muscles and young fervor blazed on the court’s home side as Bethel’s 2010/11 team prepared for battle. On the other end, an army of moms, teachers, coaches and businesswomen hit the hardwood, trading strollers and the corporate world for a morning of basketball. “It is awesome. I love these girls and it’s great to be with them,” 2009 alumnus Dani McAfee shared before the game. The scrimmage consisted of two 20-minute halves and a final ten-minute half with a running clock. Current point guard Mandy Yoder started the scoring with a break-away rebound into a fast-break lay-up and Kristi Kaniewski answered for the alumni with a trey ball. However, scores weren’t the focus as the “youngies” experimented with different plays and sequences for the upcoming season and the “oldies” experimented with new breathing techniques. Following the game, Coach Jody Martinez announced all current and former players. Teams took group photos and everyone shared in a time of feasting and fellowship. Afterwards, alumni gathered, in usual fashion, at Coach Martinez’s house for games and re-connecting. “Seeing all the former players and their families – reconnecting with them and hearing the old stories of how mean I used to be,” Martinez says is his favorite part of alumni game day. Martinez believes the alumni response for women’s basketball is so strong because of the memories and deep friendships created during their time in the program. He and his wife Sonya (assistant coach and Lady Pilot alumnus) strive to create a family atmosphere that continues beyond graduation. When former players reflect on their time as a Lady Pilot, they often recall team-bonding activities such as retreats, mission trips, Florida, community service projects, NCCAA national championships, and NAIA National Tournaments. A player becomes an alumnus after participating in at least one season (JV or varsity) during an academic year. Since 1976, an estimated 181 alumni have gone through Bethel Women’s Basketball.
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