Kiandra Jacobsen went to her first Gonzaga women’s basketball game this season.
It was the Bulldogs’ season opener. The 12-year-old sixth-grader from Sheridan Elementary was immediately hooked.
She stayed after that first game and got autographs from some of the Bulldogs. She was particularly enthralled by senior walk-on Carter Schick.
Jacobsen’s sixth-grade teacher, Katherine Meyers, and Ronnette VanHorn, her fifth-grade teacher, have season tickets at Gonzaga. They each took Jacobsen to games this year.
Jacobsen went to the first- and second-round games last weekend and has tickets to the Zags’ Sweet 16 matchup against Louisville today.
“They’re in the nose-bleed section,” Jacobsen said.
Jacobsen stayed after Gonzaga’s thrilling win over UCLA on Monday to get more autographs and pictures with the players. She got something else that she’s especially proud of – Schick gave her one of her sneakers.
“It’s one of her Nike shoes,” Jacobsen said. “The top of it is white with blue on the sides.”
It looked new to Jacobsen, perhaps never worn.
“I actually sniffed it,” Jacobsen said. “It smelled like brand new to me.”
Schick confirmed Friday that the shoe was new. She also wrote a note on the top of the sneaker: Never give up, Kiandra.
“She came up to Courtney (Vandersloot) and I after the Iowa game and was really gutsy and asked for a picture with us, but I guess the picture didn’t turn out well,” Schick said. “Then after the (UCLA game) she couldn’t get a picture with us so that’s when I gave her the shoe.”
Jacobsen, who is 5-foot-6, plays basketball.
“I want one day to play at Gonzaga and go to the pros,” she said.
She’s become Facebook friends with Schick and Vandersloot.
Meyers believes Jacobsen’s connection with the Bulldogs in general and Schick in particular will have a lifelong impact on her.
“Carter has saved a life and she doesn’t even know it,” Meyers said. “Our school has a lot of low-income kids. We have a lot of kids that you know aren’t going to graduate from high school. Kiandra realizes her dream could be realized some day. It’s helped boost and make that even more of a reality.”
Schick smiled when told about the impact she’s had on Jacobsen.
“It’s funny, I don’t look at myself as any role model, I’m just a kid,” Schick said. “But I know the effect that we have on the community and I think it’s great. I think we can all embellish it and live up to it. It’s nice to have a lot of people look up to us and have playing at Gonzaga be their goal. Who wouldn’t want this?”
Saturday will be the fifth time Jacobsen has watched Gonzaga this year.
“They’re amazing, outstanding,” Jacobsen said. “They have some really talented people on their team.”