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Lady Bruins reunite to celebrate program

PERU — St. Bede alumni gathered at the school Saturday night to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Lady Bruin basketball. Naturally, they celebrated by playing a game with players from the 1983-98 teams, facing off with players from the 98-99 through 2012-13 squad. The former, clad in green and the latter, in white. The game ended in a self-imposed 38-38 tie.

The teams also held three-point and free-throw shooting contests. Sarah Stariha won the free-throw contest while fellow millennial Sarah Slevin-Wien won the three-point contest. But, everyone was a winner at the end of the night, with all participants receiving an award.

Dawn (Carlson) Williams, a 1983 alumn, kicked off the event sharing some of her memories as one of St. Bede’s inaugural senior players under her father, Don Carlson, a former 15-year Lady Bruin basketball coach.

“We’d never played in a 1-3-1 zone or man or had any idea what pick-and-roll really was. So he had a lot of teaching to do,” she said.

Shelly Gruenwald, also a senior on the ’83 team, said she didn’t want to be on the team, “but, I was 5-10, so I was forced to be on the team. Coach Carlson made me. It was an awesome experience, and I am glad I did it. I learned a lot. I was a terrible player, but I learned a lot.”

Gruenwald noted since the girls didn’t have anybody to practice against, they scrimmaged the junior varsity and freshmen boys.

“We’ve put in a lot of hard work to make this the best girls’ basketball program in our region,” Williams added.

Carlson commented later that he always told his team first, “You are basketball players. Not girls, not boys, but basketball players.”

Current coach Tom McGunnigal also addressed the crowd and his former players saying, “I’m a better coach today because of what I learned from you, and I thank you.”

McGunnigal recently led the Bruins to their second Sweet Sixteen appearance in team history. Nearing the end of his speech he added that he always tells his seniors in a note, “… ain’t nobody better than a Lady Bruin.”

The game was very lighthearted as the players, crowd and officials simply had fun. The younger white team was subjected to “offside” and questionable traveling calls to even things out. Occasionally, McGunnigal mocked himself with some of his trademark in-game antics, yelling at the players and officials. The officials in turn handed out a technical to Carlson’s green team. The white team player was asked to take the shots using a football. She was one of two.

After receiving their honors, the alums joined together at center court to sing the school fight song.

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