They’re still tight
Sisters have followed divergent paths in life
For half a decade, the Hepton name was synonymous with success at Central Valley.
From Courtney’s first basketball season as a sophomore in 1989-90 through Kristin’s senior season in 1993-94, the Bears went 71-9 in the Greater Spokane League and 119-24 overall with four trophies in five trips to state, including a championship.
Both were first-team All-GSL as juniors and MVP as seniors. Courtney, a 5-foot-11 forward, averaged 18.7 points in 1992, and Kristin, a 6-foot forward, averaged 18.6 two seasons later.
Father Jim was, the girls recalled with a laugh, a vocal supporter. Both girls vowed not to be that parent.
“I don’t think I said that, I think I rolled my eyes,” Kristin said, adding that she is now that parent. “I am. I try not to be. My son is 5, he has no idea what’s going on (but) I find myself yelling.”
“I’m awful,” Courtney said. “I take video of my son and I’m yelling all the time. It’s embarrassing. I send it to them to get a laugh.
“He’s 7 now. Come on, it’s ridiculous. I need to tone it down. I’m way out of control. I can’t help it.”
To get to the point of being supportive, if vocal parents – Courtney in Danville, Calif., and Kristin in Portland – took quite different paths.
• • •
The Heptons sounded like one when recounting their CV days.
“I got to play with my best friends,” Courtney said. “I was so lucky to have that experience. I had good teams, good coaches and my parents supported me.
“I don’t know what I learned. It kept me out of trouble and got me a free education. Now I can be a crazy turbo mom.”
CV was third at state when she was a sophomore and fourth the next season when she averaged 17.6 points a game. When the sisters were united for the 1991-92 season, the Bears went 15-1 in the GSL.
“It was Courtney’s team. I was always in her shadow,” Kristin said. “I don’t know why I remember this, we were playing North Central and she didn’t play (sick). I had a really good game but the story in the paper was that she didn’t play.”
Courtney is convinced they might have won state had a couple of key players, including her sophomore sister, stayed healthy. Instead they settled for fourth with a 25-4 record.
Everything went right the next season, ending in a 29-0 record and state title. Kristin contributed 14 points a game.
As a senior, when again injuries were a factor in a trophyless trip to state, she led the league in scoring.
“I have really great memories,” she said. “I think it helped we were really so good. The people I played with were my friends outside of basketball.”
• • •
The magic ended in college for Courtney, who had a less-than-memorable time at Saint Mary’s.
“I went from Veradale to San Francisco; I definitely saw the world for the first time,” she said. “(The coach) was a good recruiter … but they were mentally and physically abusive.
“It was a crazy experience. I wouldn’t change anything. … It’s OK to go through tough things. It made me stronger.”
The art major graduated in 1996 and decided not to use her final season of eligibility, available because of a knee injury.
“With that practical degree I sold all my belongings and traveled the world with a teammate,” she said. “We went to 14 countries, mostly Third World. … We started in Fiji and finished in Egypt. I couldn’t even begin to tell you all the experiences I had. It’s the best thing I ever did, but I’m sure my mother freaked out every day.”
When she returned she went to work for Lilithfair, the all-female concert tour founded by Sarah McLachlan.
“I sold dresses from Nepal, from my connections, traveled all over the country and made a ton of money for a few years,” she said. “After that ended I really had nothing. Then the real world began.”
• • •
Kristin’s college experience was just a continuation of high school. She was recruited to the University of Portland by assistant coach Kelly Graves.
“My experience was great,” she said. “Coach (Jim) Sollars is a good coach but he is just a remarkable person. He cared about us off the court. … Because of him, because of the people I played with, that’s why I had a successful college career, and enjoyed it. Not a lot of people can say that, especially my sister.”
She missed her freshman season with a knee injury but then had a career that landed her in the Pilots Hall of Fame in 2010.
Hepton is sprinkled throughout the UP record book and is still in the top 10 in points, rebounds, steals, 3-point shooting and free throws – and 13th in assists for good measure, a reason she was a three-time All-West Coast Conference pick after making the All-Freshman team. She was part of the first team to ever go through the WCC undefeated and played in two NCAA tournaments.
“I majored in criminal justice, went to work for an attorney and quickly realized I didn’t want to go down that path,” she said. “My fifth year I got a Masters in management communication.”
• • •
When the happy wanderer decided she needed to settle down she picked Portland so she could watch her sister’s final season.
“Kristin let me sleep on her floor so I could figure out what I’d do next,” Courtney said. “I worked in a law office and at night I would pull out my pillow and blanket … and sleep behind the couch.”
Then a friend, Joy Durand, called and convinced her to use her last year of eligibility at Sonoma State. That gave her a chance to earn an education degree, but there was one last adventure.
“Joy talked me into playing women’s pro football, which was very interesting,” Courtney said. “The Santa Rosa Scorchers. It was cool. I was quarterback. I always wanted to play football but didn’t get the chance to play until I was 27.”
Then she put her teaching degree to use, briefly.
“I realized very quickly I wasn’t going to be a teacher; I didn’t have any patience for it,” she said.
She started selling textbooks, which she knew nothing about, but a secretary at a school she was soliciting set her up on a blind date with the secretary’s brother.
“Turns out, he was the one,” she said.
Courtney married Monty Janattour, but kept her name. She is a stay-at-home mom with a son, Riker, 7, and a daughter, Kiyan, exactly a year younger.
“My husband is Persian,” Courtney said. “Kiyan is a Persian boy name I like. Riker, I’m not sure where that came from.”
While her husband remodels houses, Courtney coaches the kids in football and basketball.
• • •
Kristin’s first job was marketing the LPGA event in Portland before moving to media sales, starting with a radio group and briefly with the Portland Trail Blazers. Now it’s part-time for a television station so she can spend more time with her three children, Lainey, 7, Max, 5, and Cal, 2.
She met her future husband, Todd Spear, during her fifth year at Portland. He worked for the Trail Blazers for 12 years before joining a design firm.
With her kids getting older, she can get to more UP games and she admits to a soft spot for Gonzaga.
“I’m a Pilot through and through, but Kelly was a big part of my success,” she said “It’s really cool he’s doing so well.”
• • •
The best reflection on their careers, and lives, come from each other.
“We’re friends, not just sisters,” Kristin said. “We definitely had our moments but it was a cool thing she decided to move to Portland.”
“She had such an amazing career and she got her degree and masters in five years,” Courtney said. “I learned other things. She’s a rock star, man. She’s got it all together way more than me. I’m the hippy sister.”
You can reach Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org