Women's Basketball Celebrates Senior Day

It all started with the women's basketball team. 
Four years ago this past fall, during my junior year as a student at Kansas State, I wandered into the K-State Collegian newsroom looking for something to write. As a female interested in sports, I was quickly put on the women's basketball beat - and my career in sports journalism has grown from there. 
My first interviews and stories began with K-State women's basketball. My first game coverage and press conference experiences all happened that season, 2011-12, in Bramlage Coliseum.  
That was the freshman season for current Wildcat seniors Ashia Woods, Haley Texada and Heidi Brown, and I remember they were as nervous to be interviewed as I was to interview them. 
However, things have changed over the past four years as I've had the opportunity to watch them grow off the court as well as on it. I've watched and written about them through their good times, bad times and just about every emotion in between. 
So tonight, Senior Night, when Woods, Texada and Brown are recognized on the court in Bramlage Coliseum before the Wildcats (16-12, 6-11 Big 12) take on West Virginia (17-12, 7-10 Big 12) at 7 p.m., there will be plenty of memories to go around. 
"Maturity for sure, but I would also have to say toughness," Woods said earlier this season when asked where she believes this year's senior class has grown the most. "We've experienced a lot of change here at Kansas State, and for us to stick through and be positive through it, that took a lot of mental toughness and trust in each other."
Throughout her career, Woods has been a consistent factor for the Wildcats. As a freshman, she played key minutes in all 34 games, helping K-State earn a trip to the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Though she opened her Wildcat career on a high note, Woods suffered a season-ending Achilles injury during her sophomore season of 2012-13. While the injury may have kept her off the court, she didn't let it hold her back and she came out strong during her junior campaign by averaging 10.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. 
Finishing strong, Woods is averaging 10 points and 6.1 rebounds per game this season and has nabbed a team-high 66 steals to go along with 76 assists.  
Not far behind Woods, Texada is averaging 9.4 points and 1.6 rebounds per game this season with 35 assists and 33 steals. Throughout her Wildcat career, Texada has scored a total of 784 points - an average of 8.7 per game - and, since her sophomore year when she averaged 11.8 points per game, has been a consistent force for K-State.
Wrapping up this year's senior class is Brown. A native of Plains, Kansas, Brown came to K-State as a walk-on and has embraced a leadership role on and off the court. She is a 2015 Academic All-Big 12 First Team recipient and was on the Fall 2014 Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll. In her career 8.1 minute per game average, Brown has scored a total of 61 points.
Though they are three very different players, Woods, Texada and Brown have come together to overcome obstacles and help continue to build the K-State women's basketball program. 
And I've been lucky enough to watch and write about it. 
Their time may be coming to an end, but this year's group of seniors is excited to know they have had a hand in helping the program grow. 
"It will be exciting to see," Texada said about the future of K-State women's basketball. "They're at a nice standpoint right now. Even Shaelyn Martin, she's in her first year here and she's doing outstanding things on the court. With time, experience and more teaching and coaching, they're going to be a team to be reckoned with."
As a senior heading into her final home game, Texada is filled with the knowledge that she has gained through her four years of experience. When asked what the most important bit of advice she can share with the team's up-and-coming players, her words were simple.  
"Advice? I tell them, 'Just work hard, embrace every moment and play to win,'" responded Texada. 
And, of course, living out those words is what this year's senior class has done and will continue to do through its final days with the Wildcat women's basketball program.
Whether we've talked about wins, losses, injuries, coaching changes, their futures or just every day college life, it has been a great journey having the opportunity to grow as a journalist alongside these ladies. I have been fortunate to watch them grow as both collegiate basketball players and wonderful people. 
Tonight's game against the Mountaineers will be aired on FOX Sports Kansas City and can be heard on the K-State Sports Network. For game notes and more about tonight's game, please click here

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