The New London Lady Bulldogs are a special team but these girls also are special off the basketball court.
They are especially special to Sig Krostue who has been a New London fan since coming to the city as a young lawyer several generations ago.
Krostue has been a fan of Bulldog sports teams through many lean years and as well as the good years.
The last two years of New London Ladies Basketball has been as good as it gets with back-to-back state championships. He also saw the boys basketball team win a state title in 1999 after placing second in 1998.
Monday, following the Lady Bulldogs 43-39 win over unbeaten New Berlin Eisenhower, Sig approached the End Stool toting a bag.
“I have something to show you,” he said, reaching into the bag and pulling out a picture.
The picture showed the Lady Bulldogs team, wearing their gold medals, surrounding Krostue at the Kohl Center shortly after their victory. Framing the picture was a mat sporting autographs of all the girls.
“I can’t believe those young girls would do this for a 97-year-old man,” he said. “It certainly was special of them.”
Krostue correctly surmised events that led to presenting him the picture at the welcome home celebration Sunday.
Dean Steingraber, when contacted, confirmed that he arranged the picture taken Saturday night and the girls signing it Sunday.
“Sig certainly is deserving of this,” Steingraber said. “He has been a loyal supporter of sports and other events in New London and the schools for many years.”
Krostue has followed girls basketball for years, but that is not unusual because he was a faithful fan before I first saw him at a boys game in 1964.
There were no girls teams until about 10 years later.
I have been privileged to watch girls/women sports grow in skills and competition since the passage of Title IX in 1972. It guaranteed equal opportunity without consideration of sex.
At that time girls sports in high school were mostly intramural.
Theresa Rohan Beyer had the length and strength to be a good basketball player in 1967 but as a junior in New London high school had been a cheerleader and opted to bypass basketball.
“I really wish I had played,” she said. “I think I would have enjoyed it.”
Theresa did play softball for a team I coached and did have a lot of natural athletic ability. She was accident prone, however.
“You could have mixed it up pretty good around the basket,” I told her. “But there would have been a lot of blood and much of it would be yours” drawing a hearty laugh from her.
Theresa’s oldest daughter Brittany was a standout at New London and recently completed a great career at UW-Parkside where her team was beaten in the NCAA Division II elite eight by Ashland, Ohio. Brittany ended her career as the second all-time scorer with 1,700 points.
This year’s Lady Bulldogs were a senior-led team with four starters and two of the main reserves playing their last game.
Coach Troy Krause lauded the team for the time and off-season commitment to the program – referring to the importance of dedication. That commitment will not end.
I have seen the core of four sophomores on the tournament roster play over the past four years.
The first time was a tournament at UW-Stevens Point on a team of seventh graders coached by Krause.
My nephew Jay Pitt’s youngest daughter Jaimee was playing on that team which included the twins, Michaela and Alexa Roland, Cambria Fitzgerald and Gretl Steingraber, Dean’s daughter.
Dean, the Waupaca County highway commissioner, knew Jay, who is coach of the Amherst Girls team, and made the connection.
I have watched the twins and Cambria grow their game on the Blizzard team from Appleton on which Jaimee plays. Gretl will be playing with the Purple Aces team in Green Bay this summer according to Dean.
This commitment by girls is shown in their quality of play and competitiveness.