|Posted August 1, 2008|
Women's basketball team meets with Alaskan governor
ThunderWolves right at home in Alaska
Courtesy of Bob Rehfeld
JUNEAU, Alaska - Members of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference champion women's basketball team, the CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves, scored a meeting with Alaskan governor, Sarah Palin, on a trip to the Land of the Midnight Sun this week.
While celebrating the 21st birthday of Juneau-native and ThunderWolves player, Mary Rehfeld, six members of the ThunderWolves convinced Palin to take time out from tense negotiations about Alaska's future energy operations to talk a little basketball.
Rehfeld, along with graduating seniors, Anna Simpson, Lindsay Black and Kaylon Miller, as well as current ThunderWolf players Rachel Espinoza and Jonnie Draper, sat down with Palin, who herself was a high school basketball standout. As point guard for her hometown Wasilla Lady Warriors, she led her team to an Alaska State Championship her senior year.
During the ThunderWolves' 2008 RMAC Championship run, Palin took a special interest in the team. As the ThunderWolves were pulling out a win over Fort Lewis in the RMAC semifinal, Palin was meeting with Rehfeld's mom, Karen, who is also Palin's management and budget director. Rehfeld's dad, Bob, and sister, Hilary, a former CSU-Pueblo basketball player herself, were sending text messages to Karen, updating her on the game.
When the RMAC Semifinal against ninth-ranked Fort Lewis went into overtime, and the ThunderWolves eventually pulled out the win, Karen had to interrupt the meeting to announce that the CSU-Pueblo had won, which was received with excitement by the members of Palin's staff.
Thursday, Palin was able to tear herself away from meetings with the Alaskan Legislature, which was in town for a historic special session to consider approving the construction of a gas pipeline to ship natural gas from the Prudhoe Bay oil fields through Canada and into the US Midwest. Despite the intense negotiations going on between the Legislature and the Governor as the vote deadline nears, Karen was able to arrange a brief meeting and photo op with members of the RMAC championship team.
During the brief meeting with the team, Gov. Palin noted that her daughter was playing summer ball with a club team and they had just wrapped up playing at a San Diego tournament. Black, who is coaching a Colorado club team, noted that her team had just played a team from Alaska a couple days ago at the San Diego tournament.
Ever the shrewd politician, Coach Lindsey noted how exceptional the Alaska team played but made no mention who won the game.
The basketball team's trip to Alaska is a regular one, as members of the team had made the trek the last couple years to visit Rehfeld's family, who come down from Alaska frequently to watch games during the season. This summer, seven ThunderWolves players visited Alaska. One of them, sophomore Amanda Bartlett, could not attend the meeting with the governor because she had to leave Alaska early because of a family illness.
The meeting with the governor is just one of several activities in which the girls will take part. Some of their activities include an overnight camping trip into the Alaskan wild, a family birthday picnic for Mary's 21st, and a whale-watching cruise.
Earlier, they went kayaking on Mendenhall Lake in front of the spectacular Mendenhall Glacier, and then hopped in a single engine float plane and flew up to the Taku Glacier lodge to spend the night with Mary's aunt and uncle, who own the lodge.
While many of the girls visited this week for Rehfeld's birthday, Espinoza and Bartlett spent the entire summer in Alaska, working various jobs such as tour guides, baristas, clerical and filing. Most importantly, they dedicated themselves to physical conditioning and working on individual skills in preparation for the upcoming season.
The members of the team will return to Colorado soon as they prepare for the 2008-09 school year.