Sunday, February 8, 2004

TMC teammates look up to 'Grandma' Warner


Former Kings High JV coach provides Saints with mature outlook as a frosh

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Thomas More freshman basketball player Brooke Warner takes her pregame rituals seriously: First there are stretching and warmups, and then the crucial full-body ice-down. Warner hopes her caution will protect her muscles in the long run. Her teammates think she's 23 going on 70.

"They call me Grandma," Warner said, laughing. "I'm usually sitting there with 55 bags of ice on me."

The nontraditional freshman might be a little older than her teammates, but you'd never notice on the court. Warner, who's playing organized ball for the first time in five years, has energized the Saints (16-5) with a team-high 6.1 rebounds a game and team-second 11.3 points.

Six years ago, she thought her basketball career was over. After leading Kings in scoring, rebounding and steals as a senior in 1998, Warner learned that April she was pregnant. Interest from colleges evaporated.

"It kind of killed me," Warner said. "I thought I was blessed with some ability, and I never thought I'd be able to use it."

Though her collegiate dreams began to fade, Warner vowed to remain part of the game. She coached the Kings junior varsity girls basketball team for four seasons while raising her son, Evan.

Seeing the game from a new perspective was enlightening, yet she longed to be part of the action. When she wasn't doling out instruction, she "tried to step in on every drill" she could. Staying fit wasn't a problem. She convinced herself that a five-year absence wasn't an issue, either, and started researching area college programs.

Warner didn't have to look hard to find Sharri Brumfield. The former Thomas More coach visited Kings to scout one of Warner's players and wound up with the junior varsity coach herself.

Warner clicked well with her teammates and had a special affinity for Denise Beam, Jodi Schroeder and Allison Byars. Warner began spending so much time at their place, she was dubbed their unofficial extra roommate.

Beam, a fifth-year senior, was relieved to meet Warner for reasons beyond friendship and basketball. Beam was the oldest player on the team until Warner showed up.

"I'd get (Grandma jokes) last year, so it's kind of funny that she's getting them now," said Beam, younger by six months. "She does take two hours to get ready for a game."

When the Saints close their home schedule at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday against Ohio Wesleyan, they'll celebrate Senior Day. Many new recruits will be in attendance - including three players Warner used to coach.

Warner probably will be teammates with girls she formerly mentored, but she takes the situation in stride. She plans to use all four years of eligibility and will be 27 when she graduates.

"There'll be a decade between me and the incoming freshmen," she said with a groan.

Interim coach Jeff Hetzer, who has been with the team only since January's end, already is convinced of Warner's impact. The Saints are within reach of a record-breaking regular season and are receiving votes in the d3hoops.com Top 25.

"(Warner) brings a maturity that you don't get out of first-year players," Hetzer said.

Said Warner: "I don't think I make as many dumb decisions. As a coach, I had to be a leader, and now I can act goofy. I can act my age again."

Others

Liz Braun (Mount Notre Dame) was named Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week after leading Centre College to wins over Hendrix and Rhodes. In the two games, the junior averaged 12 points, 17.5 rebounds and 6.5 blocked shots.

Northern Kentucky University's Sharell Snardon was named Great Lakes Valley Conference co-Player of the Week in women's basketball. Snardon finished with 17 points and scored the winning basket with 1.2 seconds remaining Saturday as the Norse defeated Bellarmine 63-62.

Washington and Lee sophomore forward Phil Landes (Mariemont) was named the ODAC Athlete of the Week after helping the Generals basketball team to two wins and averaging 15 points, six rebounds, 1.5 assists and one block a game.

Purdue sophomore Lindsay Zinn (Lakota East) won the mile run in 4:59.84 against Indiana State. At the Jan. 24 Ohio State triangular, she won the 3,000-meter title in 9:51.52. Zinn, who missed all of last season with an injury, was named the Big Ten's Indoor Track and Field Freshman of the Year in 2002.

Xavier tennis player Stephanie Bauer was named Atlantic 10 Performer of the Week, and freshman Kate Lohner won the conference's Rookie of the Week honors. Bauer was 3-0 at second singles and 3-0 at first doubles in three Xavier wins last weekend. Lohner went 1-0 at sixth singles and was 3-0 with Emily Tuchscherer at third doubles. Freshman Jackie Vilines (Notre Dame Academy) was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week last week.

Steve Tabar, a graduate of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, has been named assistant men's soccer coach at the school. At Cincinnati State, Tabar played two seasons and was named all-Ohio Community College Athletic Conference first-team goalkeeper. He also played for NKU.

Crystal Norman, a 6-foot-1 Cincinnati State freshman forward from South Bend, Ind., has been named Women's Basketball Player of the Week in the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference. Norman had 16 points and 10 rebounds in a game against Edison on Jan. 28, and 18 points and 18 rebounds in a game against Sinclair on Jan. 31.

Miami sophomore Scott Robson was named Mid-American Conference Male Swimmer of the Week after winning two individual events and one team event against Ohio on Jan. 30.

Miami freshman goalie Brandon Crawford-West was named Central Collegiate Hockey Association Defensive Player of the Week, and freshman Marty Guerin was named CCHA Rookie of the Week.

University of Cincinnati women's soccer senior Rachel Lieberman (Walnut Hills) was chosen as a Jewish Sports Review All-American for the second consecutive year. Senior Tasha Wagner (Middletown) earned Soccer Buzz All-Great Lakes Region honors. Kristina Wilson (Glen Este) was named Team MVP, Jamie Clark received the Coach's Award, and Kate Norton was named Rookie of the Year at the UC team banquet.

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E-mail srussell@enquirer.com




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