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Keeping Up With The Kids Whitworth’s 30-Year-Old Center Neither Feels, Nor Acts, Her Age

Not everyone on the Whitworth College women’s basketball team is into spinning Phish or Tupac Shakur on their portable CD players.

Listen closer. That tinny sound vibrating from Sherri Northington’s headphones might be the Talking Heads or 10,000 Maniacs.

“I always joke that the reason she stayed here a third year is that she found someone who wanted to listen to the same music as her from the ‘80s,” Whitworth’s 34-year-old coach, Helen Higgs, said of Northington, the Pirates’ 30-year-old center.

Northington has 10 years on most of her teammates, but is quick to point out that she doesn’t feel - or like to act - her age.

“No, I don’t feel more aches and pains after games,” she said. “I’ve never really been out of shape. Never.”

Northington, a 6-foot senior, is one of five starters who return from a Pirates team that finished the 1995-96 season a disappointing 3-13 overall and tied for last (1-5) in the Northwest Conference of Independent Colleges. Whitworth opens its season at home against Montana Tech tonight at 7. And if age does indeed bring knowledge, Northington gives Higgs a sage in the middle.

“The biggest difference is that I’ve been there before,” said Northington. “But I’m as silly as them most of the time. I like the pranks, the fun. It’s a good way to cut loose.”

This will be Northington’s fourth year playing college basketball. She spent most of her 20s stationed in Phoenix, Ariz., where she was a jet engine mechanic in the Air Force.

After Phoenix, the 1984 Rogers High School of Puyallup graduate said she was ready to return to Spokane, the city she calls home. Northington decided to go to Spokane Falls Community College, but had no intention of playing for the Sasquatch. She joined the team her second year.

“I ran into the coach there (Bruce Johnson) and he said, ‘Would you like to play? I’ll pay your tuition.’ And things picked up from there,” Northington explained.

When she decided she wanted to become a teacher, Northington transferred to Whitworth, about the same time Higgs took over as coach. This will be their third year together. Their first, Higgs’ rookie year, saw the Pirates go as far as the NAIA Division II Tournament, where they lasted into the second round. Higgs is cautiously confident this year’s team, behind the leadership of Northington and 5-8 senior guard Jen Tissue of Shadle Park, will win again.

Tissue was second in the NCIC in scoring last year, averaging 17.3 points per game. Northington led the conference and finished 11th in the nation in rebounding, averaging 11.2 per game. “Tissue does more in the sense of leadership on the floor because she has the ball more,” Higgs said. “And it’s more Sherri’s personality than her age that she gets a certain respect. I think her teammates are probably more comfortable dealing with her in a lot of off-court situations because of her personality.”

The three other returning starters are 5-5 senior guard Rebecca Moore, 5-9 senior forward Andrea Sherer and 5-5 sophomore guard Kristen Davis.

“It should be good,” said Higgs, whose team also includes four other returners. “I won’t have done a good job if we’re not decent this year.”

Maybe the Pirates will be good enough to stage a battle-of-the-boom-box celebration at season’s end. How about Elvis Costello vs. Nine Inch Nails?

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: WHITWORTH WOMEN’S BASKETBALL ROSTER Name Pos. H Yr. Hometown Jennifer Peterson F 5-9 Sr. Richland Kolea Andreas-Feeney G 5-3 So. Kaneohe, Hawaii Emily Stuenkel G 5-8 Fr. Spokane Courtney Carr G 5-8 So. Spokane Andrea Sherer F 5-9 Jr. Payette, Idaho Rebecca Moore G 5-5 Sr. Kalispell, Mont. Kristen Davis G 5-5 So. Curlew Jen Tissue G 5-8 Sr. Spokane Jennifer Ratcliff F 5-10 Fr. Seattle Sherri Northington C 6-0 Sr. Puyallup Kristi Mylander G 5-8 Jr. Star, Idaho Kathryn Werner F/C 6-0 So. Pullman Myra Slwooko F 5-8 Fr. Unalaklett, Alaska Star Olson G 5-7 Fr. Spokane Cindy Viall F 5-11 Jr. Onalaska

SCHEDULE (All times Pacific) Date Opponent Time Nov. 23 vs. Montana Tech 7 Nov. 29-30 at Lewis-Clark State Tournament 6 or 8 Dec. 7 vs. Whitman 6 Dec. 9 at Seattle University 7 Dec. 13 Concordia, Western Washington, Carroll at Whitworth College Tournament 4 or 6 Dec. 14 Whitworth College Tournament 2 or 4 Dec. 20 vs. Central Washington 7 Jan. 3 at George Fox 6 Jan. 10 vs. Linfield 6 Jan. 11 vs. Willamette 6 Jan. 17 at Pacific Lutheran 6 Jan. 18 at Puget Sound 6 Jan. 24 vs. Lewis & Clark 6 Jan. 25 vs. Pacific University 6 Jan. 31 at Willamette 6 Feb. 1 at Linfield 6 Feb. 4 at Whitman 6 Feb. 8 vs. George Fox 6 Feb. 14 at Pacific University 6 Feb. 15 at Lewis & Clark 6 Feb. 21 vs. Puget Sound 6 Feb. 22 vs. Pacific Lutheran 6 Feb. 25-29 NCIC playoffs TBA March 12-18 NAIA Div. II Tournament, Angola, Ind. TBA

This sidebar appeared with the story: WHITWORTH WOMEN’S BASKETBALL ROSTER Name Pos. H Yr. Hometown Jennifer Peterson F 5-9 Sr. Richland Kolea Andreas-Feeney G 5-3 So. Kaneohe, Hawaii Emily Stuenkel G 5-8 Fr. Spokane Courtney Carr G 5-8 So. Spokane Andrea Sherer F 5-9 Jr. Payette, Idaho Rebecca Moore G 5-5 Sr. Kalispell, Mont. Kristen Davis G 5-5 So. Curlew Jen Tissue G 5-8 Sr. Spokane Jennifer Ratcliff F 5-10 Fr. Seattle Sherri Northington C 6-0 Sr. Puyallup Kristi Mylander G 5-8 Jr. Star, Idaho Kathryn Werner F/C 6-0 So. Pullman Myra Slwooko F 5-8 Fr. Unalaklett, Alaska Star Olson G 5-7 Fr. Spokane Cindy Viall F 5-11 Jr. Onalaska

SCHEDULE (All times Pacific) Date Opponent Time Nov. 23 vs. Montana Tech 7 Nov. 29-30 at Lewis-Clark State Tournament 6 or 8 Dec. 7 vs. Whitman 6 Dec. 9 at Seattle University 7 Dec. 13 Concordia, Western Washington, Carroll at Whitworth College Tournament 4 or 6 Dec. 14 Whitworth College Tournament 2 or 4 Dec. 20 vs. Central Washington 7 Jan. 3 at George Fox 6 Jan. 10 vs. Linfield 6 Jan. 11 vs. Willamette 6 Jan. 17 at Pacific Lutheran 6 Jan. 18 at Puget Sound 6 Jan. 24 vs. Lewis & Clark 6 Jan. 25 vs. Pacific University 6 Jan. 31 at Willamette 6 Feb. 1 at Linfield 6 Feb. 4 at Whitman 6 Feb. 8 vs. George Fox 6 Feb. 14 at Pacific University 6 Feb. 15 at Lewis & Clark 6 Feb. 21 vs. Puget Sound 6 Feb. 22 vs. Pacific Lutheran 6 Feb. 25-29 NCIC playoffs TBA March 12-18 NAIA Div. II Tournament, Angola, Ind. TBA


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