Basketball buddies near the end of the road together

MARK HUNTER / Kamloops Daily News
February 23, 2012 01:00 AM

Kailey Colonna (12), Kaitlyn Widsten (4) and Michelle Dimond have been joined at the hip since they joined the TRU WolfPack in 2007.

They arrived nearly five years ago, knowing very little about each other or the town to which they had moved.

But to see Kailey Colonna, Michelle Dimond and Kaitlyn Widsten these days, you might think they have been together for their entire lives.

Colonna, Widsten and Dimond have just completed their fifth regular seasons with the TRU WolfPack women's basketball team. The three soon-to-be-graduates will lead TRU into its first playoff appearance, a best-of-three Canada West quarterfinal series against the Saskatchewan Huskies starting Friday in Saskatoon.

Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday, with Game 3, if needed, on Sunday afternoon.

The trio was part of head coach Scott Reeves' first recruiting class, and was counted on to play big minutes in its first season, 2007-08, when the WolfPack went 1-22.

For the girls, it's hard to believe how far the program has come - and not just in terms of wins and losses.

"I don't think the younger players really understand what it was like five years ago," Dimond said. "We're a much better team, a much better program."

When you think about it, the three best friends are a perfect fit: there's Widsten, a 5-foot-7 guard, Dimond, a 6-foot-0 forward, and Colonna, a 6-foot-2 centre.

They must think so, too. After spending their first seasons at the TRU Residence Centre - living in separate suites - they moved in together, and have been roommates since then.

"It's not like we're just living together and playing together - we spend all our time together," said Colonna, who is from Invermere. "Somehow we've managed to survive, and we don't even fight."

Sometimes, the girls have to make rules about how much they can talk about basketball.

They do it for their own mental health, and that of roommate Jamie Tazelaar, who has been there three years.

"It's not really fair to Jamie when we come home and talk about basketball," said Dimond, a Port Moody native. "Sometimes we have to just go: 'All right, no more talking about basketball.' "

Players have come and gone since the start of the 2007-08 season, but Colonna, Dimond and Widsten have stuck it out, despite an awful start to their post-secondary careers.

The WolfPack, playing the Fraser Valley Cascades in Abbotsford, lost 90-52 in what was the girls' first CIS game. Widsten played 34 minutes, scoring eight points and grabbing seven rebounds, while Colonna was on the floor for 13 minutes, ending with one rebound. Dimond also played 34 minutes, and had five points and game-high eight rebounds.

"I was terrified. I will never forget that game," said Widsten, who hails from Tsawwassen. "We got our butts kicked and we only had eight players. It was terrifying."

"I was basically crying before it - I was so nervous," Dimond added. "And those were the days we would go out and get killed . . . by about 40 points."

This season, Widsten has averaged 9.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, while Dimond's averaging four of each. Colonna has averaged 3.3 points and five rebounds, and also is averaging 1.2 blocks per game, third-best in the conference.

Dimond summed up the trio's time in Kamloops best.

"It's probably been the best five years of my life," she said. "I'm so blessed to have such great friends and roommates and teammates along the way.

"I've loved it."

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olonna, Dimond and Widsten are planning to take a trip to Costa Rica in May, before moving on to other things.

Widsten plans to work, and hopes to travel to Australia before making a decision on possibly returning to school.

Colonna is going to try to work for TRU World over the summer, teaching English as a second language, before going overseas to teach ESL.

Dimond plans to work and travel a little, and maybe will go back to do a Master's Degree to add to the Geography degree she'll get in April.

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t will take superb efforts from all three players - actually, all of TRU's players - in order to get past the Huskies (15-5), who finished second in Canada West's Prairie Division.

But the WolfPack (9-9), which finished third in the Pacific Division, feels it can compete with the Huskies. In their only meeting of the season, Saskatchewan beat TRU 70-62 in Saskatoon.

"They're a good, talented team, and we sort of have the tendency to play to the level of the team we're playing against," Colonna said.

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livia Rasmussen of the St. Ann's Crusaders has signed on to play for the WolfPack women's soccer team next season.

WolfPack head coach Tom McManus made the announcement Wednesday.

Rasmussen, a 5-foot-0 defender, is the WolfPack's third recruit for the 2012 Pacific West Athletic Association season. Kamloops Youth Soccer Association teammates Kelsey Martin and Kindra Maricle are the others - the three are to play as part of KYSA's under-17/18 A team this summer.

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he WolfPack women's volleyball team's CIS season ended less than a week ago, but head coach Keith Lundgren has signed a third recruit.

Rachel Murray, a 5-foot-10 left side, has signed on to play for the WolfPack in 2012-13. Murray attends Edmonton's Jasper Park High and plans to enroll in the arts program.

The WolfPack already has signed Coquitlam's Katie Woo, a setter, and outside hitter Hillary Schell of Kelowna.

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he WolfPack hockey team is getting ready to play host to its final home game of the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League regular season.

TRU (11-6-4) is to play host to Trinity Western on Friday, 8:30 p.m., at Memorial Arena, before taking on Simon Fraser in Burnaby on Saturday. TRU's last game of the regular season is scheduled for March 3, against the Okanagan Coyotes in Kelowna.

The WolfPack also will play host to the BCIHL championship from March 14-18.

TRU is third in the seven-team league, with Trinity Western (4-12-4) sixth and SFU (15-2-5) first.

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he WolfPack baseball team is 1-4 in its spring training in Arizona after a 10-3 loss to the Chandler-Gilbert Community College Vaqueros in Chandler on Tuesday.

Mike Riddle was on the mound for the loss, allowing six earned runs in three innings. Jake Hein also pitched two innings.

mhunter@kamloopsnews.ca


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