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Gonzaga Legends: Heather Bowman has plenty of competitive fire remaining nearly a decade after her final time in a Bulldogs’ jersey

UPDATED: Fri., June 21, 2019, 7:08 p.m.

In every way, Heather Bowman keeps Gonzaga close. And her friends closer.

The former GU star can see the Kennel from her office just off Division Street, and she’s always welcome to join the current Zags for a practice.

“They do beat me up a little bit,” said Bowman, who plays mainly rec ball these days. “I’m in some basketball shape but not that kind of basketball shape.”

“But I’m always game for a scrimmage,” said Bowman, one of the elite players in program history. A four-time first-team All-West Coast Conference selection from 2007-10, she also ranks in the top three in GU history in every stat that matters.

But stats don’t matter that much to Bowman, who in 2010 became the leading scorer in conference history.

Three years later her record was broken by Alex Cowling of Loyola Marymount.

“That’s OK,” Bowman said. “We’ve got more championships.”

Bowman has more than her share: a state championship at Lewis and Clark High School in 2006, followed by a tough decision.

Most elite players from Spokane choose to take their game out of town. For Bowman the pressure was applied by the likes of Oregon, Washington, Arizona State and others.

GU was still a low-profile program, but during Bowman’s official visit, coach Kelly Graves “showed her a vision,” her former LC teammate Katelan Redmon said in 2017.

“She said that made a lot of sense, to be that hometown hero. … It shows what she holds dear to her heart,” Redmon said.

It took no time for Bowman to make history. In the fall of 2006, she scored 11 points to help GU win its first game against a ranked opponent, beating No. 21 UCLA in the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Hawaii.

“I was lucky enough to go through a lot of firsts,” said Bowman, who ended her freshman year helping GU to its first NCAA Tournament appearance.

The WCC Freshman of the Year in 2007, she was named its Player of the Year as a sophomore, although GU settled for a WNIT berth that year.

In 2009 the Zags won their first NCAA Tournament game, over Xavier. Bowman, a 6-foot-2 forward, capped her career in the best GU season to date, a 29-5 mark that included tournament wins over North Carolina and Texas A&M and a spot in the Sweet 16.

“That was fun, the whole experience,” said Bowman, who is still close with her teammates.

Heather Bowman, right, is greeted by Jami Schaefer as Bowman leaves the game in the final seconds of the game against Xavier in Seattle on Saturday, March 21, 2009, of their first-round women’s NCAA college basketball tournament game. Gonzaga won 74-59 with Bowman leading the team with 23 points. (John Froschauer / Associated Press)
Heather Bowman, right, is greeted by Jami Schaefer as Bowman leaves the game in the final seconds of the game against Xavier in Seattle on Saturday, March 21, 2009, of their first-round women’s NCAA college basketball tournament game. Gonzaga won 74-59 with Bowman leading the team with 23 points. (John Froschauer / Associated Press)

Bowman chased more dreams in Europe, while serving as an assistant coach at Whitworth before working as video coordinator at GU.

“That means you do about everything,” said Bowman, who considered going into coaching.

“God bless these coaches, but I decided I might have to do something else,” Bowman said.

Two years ago, she joined her father, Scott Bowman, at Wells Fargo Advisors.

“I joined his team,” said Bowman, whose fourth-floor office is decorated with memorabilia from her other team, the Zags.

The Kennel is only eight blocks away. “I could walk there, but not in the season with the snow,” Bowman said.

She’s still a regular at home games, skipping only an occasional Thursday night because her job as a financial advisor “can get crazy and time-consuming.”

However, she finds time to reach out. She’s on the alumni board and big fan who likens last year’s team to some of her own.

“They had a lot of that grittiness, that attitude,” said Bowman, who credits current coach Lisa Fortier as well as Graves for that.

Fortier returned the compliment, calling Bowman and teammate Courtney Vandersloot the key players in “establishing the culture.”

Bowman reached out again recently, talking assistant coach and former Mead star Stacy Clinesmith into joining her Hoopfest team, Farmgirlfit.

It will be a chance to get close, said Bowman, for whom every Hoopfest is a Zag reunion.

“It’s that connector where everybody can bond,” she said.

Heather Bowman on Feb. 17, 2010. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Heather Bowman on Feb. 17, 2010. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

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