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Lynx teammates rekindle rivalry

WNBA players stay loyal to alma maters.
Thursday, March 3, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:13 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Two special guests attended Wednesday’s game between Missouri and Kansas State: former Tiger Amanda Lassiter and former Wildcat Nicole Ohlde.

“It was so good (to be back),” Lassiter said. “It was disappointing that we lost, but it was still good to come back and see everybody, see what’s going on with the team.”

Lassiter and Ohlde used to be Big 12 Conference rivals, but after last season they formed a new connection as teammates. They play together on the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA.

The 6-foot-1 Lassiter graduated from Missouri in 2001. She plays forward for the Lynx and averaged 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds last season.

“I feel so blessed because I’m doing something that I love to do and getting paid to do it,” Lassiter said. “It’s a dream come true, basically. It’s hard work, but if you love it that much it’s not work at all.”

Ohlde graduated last season and was the sixth overall pick in the WNBA draft. Ohlde, a 6-foot-5 forward/center, averaged 11.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in her first season with the Lynx.

Lassiter said becoming friends with a rival wasn’t bad, just different.

“It is so strange, but we have good fun with it,” Lassiter said.

Their competition goes beyond women’s basketball. Football season was big too.

Ohlde was unable to attend the football game between Missouri and Kansas State, but Lassiter said it didn’t stop their friendly banter.

Minnesota will play an exhibition in Kansas City on May 7. The Lynx take on the Detroit Shock at 7 p.m. at Municipal Auditorium.

Lassiter said she is eager for the game, but she wants the right people to show up in the stands.

“I’m hoping I get a lot of Mizzou fans because I know a lot of K-State fans will be there,” Lassiter said.

LAST AT HOME: Missouri coach Cindy Stein waited for her two seniors at center court before Wednesday night’s game against Kansas State.

Shea Swoboda and then Megan Roney made their way out of Missouri’s tunnel for the last time.

With family members at their sides, the two embraced Stein, accepted yellow flowers and framed memories of their time with the Tigers.

Swoboda’s pictures included one in a different Missouri uniform. See, Swoboda already finished up her career with Missouri soccer, before moving on to basketball. She played the sports for four years in high school, and decided to walk on the basketball team.

The former two-time captain of the Missouri soccer team did not fret about limited playing time. She just wanted to compete.

“Obviously my role was a lot different, as far as playing,” Swoboda said. “I just wasn’t ready to give (competition) up. When you finish a sport you’ve been playing your whole life, you do miss the camaraderie and all those kinds of things.”

Swoboda said her family’s support was important.

“They’ve always supported me through everything, so I think it would have been a little weird without them,” Swoboda said. “It was nice to be able to have my little sister and my brother because they’ve been dragged to every one of my sporting events.”

Swoboda joked with Roney, her roommate, before the ceremony about her joining the team this season.

“I actually teased her before saying ‘I bet you hate me for stealing your spotlight, huh? Because she would have had this night to herself,” Swoboda said.

Roney played 24 minutes, scored two points and pulled down four rebounds against Kansas State.

Missouri was up 25-23 at halftime against Kansas State, but in the second half the Wildcats took over. So with 51.3 three seconds left, Stein put in Swoboda.

“It was exciting,” Swoboda said. “(I) wish (the score) could have been on the other end.”

She hustled, striding across the court, and received a pass with seconds left.

Swoboda turned, looked at an open 3-pointer and shot. She missed the basket and the rim, but it made no difference. Swoboda is happy to be a part of another Missouri family.

“It was definitely a privilege for me,” Swoboda said.


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