March 5, 2013
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By Claire Fisher
Wins and losses, moving to the Auburn Arena, a coaching change and traveling out of the country have created a unique experience for the seniors on the Auburn women's basketball team. For Blanche Alverson, Julie King, Najat Ouardad and Pascale West, the end of their final season as basketball players has created mixed feelings, but the four players will never forget their memories.
The team's trip to Australia in August remains a strong memory for the four seniors. Although the team was competing during the trip, they had the chance to visit landmarks like the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney Harbour and also come to know the new coaching staff.
"That's a once in a lifetime experience getting to go down with your team and the rest of the staff, especially when they were all new," said Alverson, who became the 27th woman at Auburn to score 1,000 career points during her senior season. "It really gave us a chance to get to know them and get to know the freshmen."
Having chances to bond with teammates and coaches off the court during a four-year span has created friendships with players younger and older, and they will always be cherished by the seniors.
"I could have never imagined this experience, and I'd go back and do it again in a second," said King. "The girls are fantastic, the coaches are great, and I can tell I've got some lifelong bonds here. It's just a unique thing to be a part of the Auburn family in athletics."
The family atmosphere at Auburn and on the team is what originally drew Ouardad in to joining the team after playing for two years at a junior college. In her two years at Auburn, she became an impact player known for her steals and competitiveness on the court.
"I want [people at Auburn] to remember just how energetic and happy and little of a person I am," said Ouardad. "I'm always optimistic and had a desire to win every game."
West hopes to be remembered at Auburn as a passionate and caring person, but King will never forget the love she has for bacon.
"Every pre-game breakfast that we have--PJ really, realy likes bacon--so I have this ongoing bacon count," said King. "I'm really going to miss looking over at PJ and counting how many bacon pieces she has on her plate and logging it in my bacon log."
The seniors finished their final regular season game on Monday with a 74-65 win against Mississippi State, marking the last time for the quartet to compete in the Auburn Arena.
"It's very bittersweet," said West. "I'm said to see the season come and go and my four years come and go like that, but it's a proud moment for me."
The seniors will have the chance to continue their season this week as the Tigers play in the 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament. Auburn will take on LSU at 7:30 p.m. CT, Thursday. The game will air on SportSouth and on ESPN3.com.