Women’s basketball team won championship-level respect

The scores from UW-Green Bay’s inspiring performances in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament went final weeks ago:
Green Bay 69, Virginia 67
Iowa State 60, Green Bay 56

On another score, however, the team continues to compile big numbers. Those are the nearly unprecedented number of news articles, e-mails and phone calls the University has received praising the Phoenix for representing UW-Green Bay in outstanding fashion, with class and grace. We share here an assortment of reactions — just a sampling, actually — describing the memorable NCAA tournament trip by the players, coaches, traveling delegation, fans, pep band and spirit squad.

‘Never more impressed’
“Just a quick note about my impression of the UWGB women’s basketball team that I saw play against Iowa State. I am a graduate of ISU and long time women’s basketball fan. I have never been more impressed with the play of an ISU opponent than of UWGB last night. And many of the best teams in the country play in Ames every year. From the opening tip to the end of the game it was so apparent how much they wanted to win. If I lived in Green Bay I would have enjoyed watching them play all year. Your town and university should be proud of your women’s basketball team. I was also impressed with the green-clad UWGB fans that were at the game. I don’t recall seeing a more enthusiastically supportive group following the visiting team at an ISU game.”
Sports fan in Iowa

‘Any parent would be proud’
“I want to express my appreciation to you about the game I watched. I am an Iowa State fan living about an hour away and could not attend, but what I say on TV was just awesome. Your team deserved to win with the type of effort they put on the floor. Every girl hustled and never quit. I was very impressed. Hilton Coliseum is an extremely tough place to play in and your team was so well prepared for everything that was thrown at them. Congratulations on such a fine showing last night. Any parent would be extremely proud to send their child to play for you and your system.”
Fan, Carroll, Iowa

Phoenix fan: ‘They have it all’
“Three Iowa State fans stopped me at the Hilton Coliseum (arena) after the game…three!… and told me they admired our young women’s fight, their hustle, their desire to win. One said, “I sure respect your coach.” I thought our team members were models of college athletics. Work ethic, nice sportsmanship, all of it. Happily, our players are bright, articulate, dedicated and delightful young women!”
Phoenix fan

Classy fans
“During the second-round NCAA game, an Iowa State player went down with an injury. When the injured player returned to her feet to walk back to the bench, the ENTIRE UW-Green Bay fan section, without pause or cue, rose to their feet in unison, and clapped in true sportsmanship manner. It wasn’t until seconds later the other 7,000 Iowa State fans joined suit!”
UW-Green Bay fan

‘Classy group’
“As my family of five exited our seats at the Hilton Coliseum after our second-round loss vs. Iowa State, we were greeted by 15 Iowa State games management folks who recognized us as Phoenix fans and congratulated us on a fine tournament. They paid tribute to the ‘wonderful, classy, young women’ they escorted and tended to all weekend. We were told, “You should be very proud of your team. They were the best competition we have seen here all season, but most importantly, they are a classy group of young women. They were extremely thankful and gracious to us all.”
Family of Phoenix fans

Remembering an absent friend

“At the return celebration after first round victory vs. Virginia, Coach Bollant took time to thank all the supporters and fans in attendance. And, in a touching moment, he made a special tribute to special fan and long-time supporter, Bernie Killoran, who couldn’t make the trip. Sadly, Bernie passed away the next day due to a traumatic fall. He will be sadly missed by his Phoenix Family. The day of our return, many staff, coaches and players (current and past) attended the funeral services to offer our support and share in the loss of “one of our team members.”
Phoenix staff member

Mrs. Killoran says ‘thanks’‘
Sally Killoran, a retired education and campus benefactor, is the widow of lifelong UW-Green Bay supporter and Phoenix Fan Bernie Killoran, who died during tournament week. She told Phoenix Athletics staff members, “I found great comfort in going home the night after Bernie had passed, putting on my green UW-Green Bay sweater, tuning in on TV and cheering on the women’s team. I knew Bernie was sitting on a cloud watching down on the game with me.”
Phoenix staff member

432 miles and an ESPN appearance
On the spur of the moment, some UW-Green Bay students hopped in a car Tuesday morning to make the seven-hour trip to Ames for the second-round game that evening. They arrived late afternoon with time to spare for making posters. One read: ”We drove 432 miles – missed two days of class – to cheer on the #1 UW-Green Bay Phoenix.” The sign attracted enough attention to make ESPN2 airtime!

Nesslein says Kline and company deserve praise
“On the sports page of the Wall Street Journal (yes, the WSJ has a sports page), I recently read an article on the economics of college sports. What caught my eye was the mention of basketball coach Bob Huggins who had spent 18 years at the University of Cincinnati before being fired. There he compiled a superb record that was rewarded with 14 NCAA tournament appearances and a trip to the Final Four in 1992. But in 18 years, not one of his players graduated. Kudos to Mike Kline (the Phoenix academic coordinator) and the UWGB athletic program where the twin goals of excellence in sports and excellence in education have been achieved.
Tom Nesslein, Urban and Regional Studies (Economics)

Iowa State student: ‘First-class’
“I am a fan and student at ISU and we had a fan that was sitting right
behind your band and was being rude toward your band and cheerleaders in your game here. I wanted to apologize for him, it was unneeded and he was not representing himself or the university in a true Iowa State manner. Your band members, cheerleaders, and team conducted themselves in a first class way. Your team played an amazing game. Congratulations on your success this year and best of luck in the future. Thank you…”
Iowa State student

Story of Celeste and Zach draws praise
And finally, a number of readers submitted comments when the Green Bay Press-Gazette picked up the touching story about Celeste Hoewisch and Zach Heugel that first appeared on this website during NCAA tournament week. A star guard studying biology and exercise science, Hoewisch volunteered to work with a young fan with special needs to help him improve his physical fitness and, also, his outlook on life. Among the comments:

• What a great story! This young woman sounds like a wonderful person and was lucky to get an equally wonderful young man to work with… give them two thumbs up for realizing the good that can come from sports.

• As the parent of an autistic child I applaud Ms Hoewisch and her efforts to help out those that are in need. It’s a challenge but it is also rewarding. Thank you.

• We were neighbors of Zach’s and our sons all considered him their best friend when they were young. I applaud Celeste and am glad to hear how well Zach is. He’s the biggest UWGB fan ever!

• I knew that girl was top notch from the get-go. I guess I was right! :- Nice job Celeste.

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