A team effort

She was in a car packed with kids when Lauren Alonzo first heard the news that she had been named this year’s female inductee to the UFV Cascades Athletics Hall of Fame. Her friend and old teammate, Tanya Campbell (BA ’04), called her while driving, to tell her that UFV was trying to reach her.

alumni Bball 01This came as a big surprise to Alonzo, who played for nearly five years on the UCFV Cascades women’s basketball team from 2000 to 2005, before graduating with a degree in kinesiology in 2006.

However, for anyone who knew her during her time at UCFV, Alonzo’s induction into the Hall of Fame makes perfect sense. The former All-Canadian basketball superstar received a number of distinctions during her time with the team, including Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Player of the Year, BC Collegiate Athletic Association WBB Player of the Year, and Athlete of the Year across all sports. She even captained the team during her final year.

As Alonzo tells it, basketball was more about having fun and enjoying the company of her teammates.

“It’s really cheesy,” says Alonzo, “but it was the group of friends that went through with us that I value. It was really special to me.”

Even in the years after competing and graduating, Alonzo maintains friendships with many of her teammates. “I was in the wedding parties of Erin Camping and Cassi Born.”

Even though the sport brought them all together, most have moved on from basketball in favour of other pursuits. Only one of the friends, Kalisha Reid, continues to play competitively.

“After graduation we all tried to put a team together in the Abbotsford Women’s Basketball League,” says Alonzo. But they were unable to find enough members to build a team and the idea quickly faded.

Now Alonzo, who has three kids of her own, has transformed into a sports mom, with all the dedication that comes from having competed.

“My kids have always been pretty busy,” says Alonzo. “And it’s me driving them. Sport is my love language, I guess.”

Only her daughter has pursued Alonzo’s legacy in basketball; the other children have taken up hockey and baseball.

“I tried to get my boys to play,” she says. “But they said no. They wanted to play something more traditional.”

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Basketball chose me

For Alonzo, the draw to basketball was almost accidental.

She jokes that she always felt like basketball chose her. Standing at six feet, she had always been tall for her age.  But with her friend’s stepdad coaching the game in Langley as she was growing up, and her own dad cheering from the sidelines, she naturally fell into it.

From there she played for HD Stafford Secondary in Langley and club ball at Walnut Grove Secondary before coming to UCFV in 2000, thanks to Tanya Campbell, a friend from her game days in high school, who encouraged her to keep up the sport after high school.

These days, her children are barely aware of the legacy she built during her time competing at the college level. So, when the phone call came in while her kids were in the car, they were surprised.

Though Alonzo is still humble about the experience. She would rather credit the team than herself for their achievements during their competitive years with the UCFV Cascades.

“I’m honoured,” says Alonzo when thinking about the recognition, “but I wish it was our team being recognized.”

During their time together, the team performed well at the college level (UFV went on to join the national university sports association, now known as U-SPORTS, in 2006).

They went undefeated for three years except for the final games in the playoffs, a testament to the bond they had as a team and continue to have as friends.

Lauren Alonzo was officially inducted to the UFV Cascades Hall of Fame on January 20 at the UFV Abbotsford campus Envision Athletics Centre.

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