Hoosiers Reconnect with the Past
April 30, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - On Saturday, April 28, a group of Hoosiers set foot inside Assembly Hall after making Indiana women's basketball history nearly 25 years ago.
Members of the 1983 Big Ten Championship team made their way back to Bloomington to reconnect with their past and get to know the current IU squad and coaching staff. The hour-long visit was also a chance for the current team to see how a group that included individuals with very different backgrounds stayed so close and connected for more than two decades.
The event was organized by Amy Metheny, a 5-4 point guard who averaged 2.3 assists per game for her career as a Hoosier, who knew how important it was to come back to Bloomington and get to know a staff and team that is building a new foundation for Indiana women's basketball - a foundation that will some day lead the Hoosiers back to a championship.
"We want to see Indiana become a place for women's basketball, where they are bringing in championships," Metheny said. "As alumnae, we still feel connected to the program and we had been looking for a chance to reconnect. What we were able to do today was amazing. Coach Jack has the ingredients and understands what it takes to be a championship program."
After her first year at the helm of the Indiana program, Felisha Legette-Jack has made amazing strides with a team that produced the Big Ten's Sixth Player of the Year (Jamie Braun), an All-Big Ten third team selection (Sarah McKay), and the Women's Sports Foundation Classic title.
Legette-Jack used Saturday's meeting to express to her players just how important it is to know your past.
"We are blessed to have our champions return home for the first time in 24 years," Legette-Jack said. "Observing our 1983 team celebrate with enthusiasm brought such hope to our program. They showed us what it will feel like when we leave our legacy behind. We are bridging the gap between our past and our present. We are claiming complete victory of our future."
Among the players from the 1983 team that returned to Bloomington on Saturday were, IU's all-time leading scorer and rebounder, Denise Jackson, Rachelle Bostic, who is the Hoosiers' leader in career field goals made, Metheny, Mindy Cotherman, Julie Kronenberger, Kim Land, Melissa Leckie, Melinda Sparkman and Sue Watts. The 1983 team not only produced a Big Ten regular season championship, but a Wade Trophy finalist in Jackson and the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in Linda Cunningham.
Metheny also wanted IU's current squad to know how a team that was so diverse could become so close through the game of basketball.
"This basketball team couldn't have been any different, but we were teammates," Metheny said. "We didn't judge each other, we cared about everyone and helped each other out through hard times. That was the kind of team we had. Many teams are like that, but this team never let personal goals get in the way. D.J. (Denise Jackson), who says that she looks back and never realized how good she was, was a two-time Wade finalist. We never focused on that. It was about this team winning a championship. We sat down at the beginning of the season and said that we wanted to win, and we did it as a team. In the end, I have 15 friends that if I called in a moment's notice, would be there and do anything for me. That's what basketball is all about. It really is a metaphor for life and what you do later on."
That message set a tone with the current team and Braun, who earned IU's first-ever league Sixth Player of the Year honor this season, knows that anything is possible for the Hoosiers' future if they stay together as a team.
"We have all come from different places and that team has proven that if you just work together as a team, anything is possible," Braun said. "We have the right foundation and now we just have to go to work. As a team, we need to stick together and stay focused."
The meeting between IU's past and present not only reconnected the history of Indiana women's basketball with its future, but it also gave the players a view of what life could be past their days of playing in Assembly Hall. The 1983 team has also made an impact on the "real world," as it has produced a doctor, lawyer, social worker, accountant, college professor, successful business women, teachers and high school athletic directors.
However, despite their success following college, Metheny expressed that they will always be Hoosiers.
"Now that we're out in the real world, when people ask me where I went (to college) and I say, 'I played basketball at Indiana,' that means something to people," Metheny said. "We take that with pride."
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