Future looks bright for young Stars

Monday, February 14, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:46 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Stephens freshmen Pam Dodge and Elyse Steffan caught Stars women’s basketball coach Dane Pavlovich a little off guard at the beginning of the basketball season in November.

At a practice, Dodge and Steffan were stretching on the center circle at Silverthorne Arena when they called Pavlovich over.

“They said, ‘Hey coach, we don’t have enough bleachers in here,’” Pavlovich said. “‘By the time we get done here, there are going to have to be a lot more bleachers in here so people can come watch us play.’”

The future of the Stars, Dodge and Steffan, both 18, had started thinking about what the future held for them.

“It kind of took me by surprise,” Pavlovich said. “But at the same time, they are very focused and driven players and student-athletes, so for them to have lofty goals, it doesn’t surprise me at all,”

Dodge and Steffan’s time together on the basketball court did not begin at the collegiate level, or even on the same sideline. They played against each other in junior high before joining the same high school team.

“We played each other three or four times a year and then we were brought together,” Dodge said. “(The transition) was a little hard but I think we did OK coming together.”

They played four years together at North Callaway High.

“The first time (I saw them play) was at the Centralia Tournament,” Pavlovich said. “I liked the way they worked together. I saw some chemistry on the floor with them and I knew right away that they were a couple that we could definitely build around.”

Pavlovich was impressed enough to make Steffan and Dodge the first two signees of the inaugural NAIA recruiting class for the Stars.

“If one of us came, the other was going to come,” Dodge said. “Once coach talked to us, we thought it would be cool to play together at college too.”

Pavlovich said they signed exactly one week after the school received its NAIA membership.

“It was a really cool day (when they signed together),” Pavlovich said. “On April 23, we got to sign them and it was the beginning of all of our signings. It was really neat to have the whole school there and it was a celebration of not only the end of their high school career, but the beginning of a good start for their collegiate career.”

Pavlovich said Dodge and Steffan bring different strengths to the team.

“Pam’s strength is defensive rebounding right now,” Pavlovich said. “If she’s getting rebounds for us, we definitely have a chance to be successful.”

Pavlovich said Steffan is a more complete player.

“I think Elyse’s (best characteristic) is her versatility. You can post her up, she can shoot the three. She’s one of the top players on our roster at getting to the free-throw line so she can also penetrate and draw the foul.”

Dodge has started 20 games and Steffan 16 of the 23 games the Stars have played this season.

The women said they think playing together in high school has elevated their game in college.

“We know exactly what we’re going to do on the court,” Dodge said. “It’s a lot easier because we’re so used to each other that it’s a second nature to us.”

“It helps with the chemistry between us,” Steffan said.

More importantly, their contributions have impacted the entire team.

“They have been tremendous for us,” Pavlovich said. “At times they’ve played like freshmen but at times they’ve played well beyond their years.”

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