March 16, 2010
Elizabeth Blevins, Director, Office of Communications
Office: (740) 351-3810; FAX: (740) 351-3179; Cell: (740) 464-4854
940 Second Street – Portsmouth, Ohio 45662
Web site: www.shawnee.edu
A Sleuth of Bears
The love and willingness to lay it all on the line for one
another has helped the Shawnee State Women’s Basketball team
accomplish one of its goals in making the Final Four. It
just so happens the love for the team doesn’t stop on the
may not have as many fans as other teams in the seats at the
Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, but no other team has
fans that love and care for not only the team, but each
other as the fans in blue cheering on Shawnee State.
“We all just
love each other so much – we’re like a family,” Konnie
Meyer, mother of Bears forward Alison Meyer, said.
that Meyer is referring to is the group of parents and fans
that have been mainstays in the stands at SSU games both
home and away since the trio of seniors’ arrival in 2006.
This year at
the National Tournament five schools from the state of Iowa
have been represented on the court and in the stands. While
local schools such as Morningside College and Briar Cliff
University nearly fill the lower bowl of the Tyson Center,
Shawnee State occupies half of one seating section. Small in
numbers, the fans of the Bears hardly go unnoticed.
amazing. To have everyone here just makes this experience
that much greater,” Bears forward Jill Cropper said.
the group of families together in Sioux City you would think
they have been lifelong best friends and not just parents
whose kids have played four years of basketball together.
They tell stories of past road trips, laugh at jokes and
rarely mention the fact that this is the last week they will
all be together as a group cheering on their daughters.
But not all
of these die-hard parents will be leaving this year. David
Ballman, father of sophomore guard Abby Ballman, said one of
the hardest parts of this season ending and next year
beginning will be losing the friendship of some of the other
to miss them terribly,” Ballman said. “I get choked up just
thinking about it.”
type of camaraderie that the parents have passed down to
their daughters and makes it easy to see why the Bears are
one of the tightest knit teams in the country. In each game
in Sioux City leading up to the Final Four a different Bear
has stepped up and led the team to victory. Several years
from now fans will look back and remember the 2010 Final
Four team as one that was balanced and unselfish.
It’s not just
the parents that travel the 14-hour 1,000-mile journey.
Several of Shawnee State’s biggest supporters, the Golden
Bears, have also made the journey to Sioux City.
Judy Pitts have been coming to Sioux City since 1998 to
watch the Bears, only missing one year. Friends of Coach
Hagen-Smith, they started watching SSU in 1995 and have been
hooked ever sense.
asks which one is our daughter,” Judy said. “We don’t have
anyone on the team, were just fans.”
the National Title win in 1999, Larry sees traits in the
1999 team that can be translated to the 2010 squad.
closeness of this team is remarkable,” Larry said. “They
stick together and get it done.”
teams in Iowa such as College of the Ozarks, who bring a
rowdy 150-persons student section, pride themselves on the
size of the cheer block at Nationals, Shawnee State will be
happy with their small but lively group of fans.
One of the
things that the 2010 Bears have steered away from in the
National Tournament is superstitions and rituals that some
teams may get caught up in. While the players may not take
part in such shenanigans, the parents are watching every
move they make before games. The superstition that may be
the talk of Sioux City is Konnie Meyer and “the penny.”
Meyer had found a penny before the game against Haskell
University and then was determined to find a penny before
each game the Bears have played.
Williams, father of Whitney Williams, in previous years had
purchased a full tournament pass, expecting the Bears go too
deep into the tournament. This year Williams decided he
would instead purchase single game tickets.
years I have always bought a tournament pass and this year I
told the girls we were going to take it one game at a time
just like they should, so I just buy single tickets each
day,” Williams said.
and Whitney’s mother Debbie gets so nervous during the game
that she literally cannot watch the action.
watch anything,” Debbie said. “If it’s a close game I just
look around and focus on something else.”
Williams may not be focused on Whitney shooting her
trademark three-point shot during the game, but you can bet
Monday night the Bears will be focused on one thing. Getting
to Tuesday night.