Archive for Sunday, August 17, 2008

Keegan: Tourney turnout uplifting

August 17, 2008

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Usually, for coaches, winning comes first, and popularity follows. Seeing two packed Alvamar golf courses on a sun-kissed Saturday afternoon proved that isn't always so.

Sixty foursomes, another way of saying 240 golfers, participated in the fourth-annual Bonnie Henrickson Golf Tournament. Quite the turnout for a fourth-year coach whose Kansas University team never has posted a better Big 12 record than 6-10.

"Very proud, very excited," Henrickson said of the turnout, before deflecting the credit. "I think joining efforts with Lawrence Memorial Hospital has been good. People think it's for a good cause."

Part of the proceeds went to the LMH Breast Center, just as was the case on KU's hugely successful "Think Pink Day," which drew a crowd of 6,122 to Allen Fieldhouse, despite horrendous driving conditions on a very snowy day.

Sure, part of it is the desire of help-minded people pitching in for a good cause, but Henrickson's personality and her players' ability to serve as ambassadors for both their sport and university help, too.

"I think most people here appreciate how we run the program and have been patient with us," Henrickson said from a chair on the swanky, refurbished patio at Alvamar Country Club. "I wish they wouldn't have to be so patient, but I think they appreciate how we work with our kids, the relationship we have with our players, the relationship we have with the community, that we really, truly want to give back, and we've demonstrated that."

That's important, for the community and for the student-athletes who can only benefit for the rest of their lives from feeling what it's like to promote a good cause. But it's not enough for Henrickson, her players and all those who want women's basketball to become a bigger part of the Lawrence sports landscape.

They want to win, and they want to win now.

Angels have been known to help those who go about things the right way.

Enter Angel Goodrich, a 5-foot-3 point guard from Tahlequah, Okla., and the most decorated recruit landed by Henrickson. Goodrich's mission, which she decided to accept, is to make teammates better and in turn elevate the program. Coach Bonnie thinks she's up to the task.

"She understands there's a need for her," Henrickson said. "There was no hiding that when we recruited her. I don't think she's afraid of that. She wouldn't have come here if she was afraid of that. She could have easily gone somewhere else and not had that opportunity to have that impact right away. She's smart enough to know she's going to be in that role, and she's competitive enough to know that's part of here experience here, being a builder, not a maintainer. She chose to be a builder. That's why she came here. She understands what she's capable of doing, and she understands what we need. And those two things fit with her. They mesh."

Some talented pieces already in place will blossom under Goodrich's leadership. Things are going to be different with KU women's basketball program come winter. Better, more exciting. You could feel it in the soothing summer air Saturday.

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