‘We were best friends:’ Huge show of support as former Oak Creek basketball players face off on college teams

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Steph Kostowicz, Tamya Sims

MILWAUKEE -- Something unique happened recently at a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's basketball game. Much of the crowd cheered for players from both teams.

UWM's Klotsche Center played host to the matchup between UWM and IUPUI, and Oak Creek was well represented.

"Oh man, it felt great to play in front of family for the first time in a while," Tamya Sims, IUPUI player said.

"To play against a fellow state champ on this court, my court, in front of all these Oak Creek fans is a really big deal for us," Steph Kostowicz, UWM player said.

Kostowicz and Sims grew up together playing basketball at Oak Creek High School -- winning a state title together in 2014.

Tamya Siims

"We were best friends growing up through high school. I actually I think I convinced her to start playing basketball and she's been killing it on the court here at UWM and it's always fun just playing against your friends," Sims said.

"It's really nice to grow up with them and learn the game with them and have this opportunity to compete against someone too," Kostowicz said.

On this night, their friendship was competitive.

"I can respect her, she can respect me and at the end of the day we can still be friends," Kostowicz said.

Steph Kostowicz

"She's one of the top players in the Horizon League, but I just had to keep my composure and, you know, we are friends off the court -- but on the court we're competitors," Sims said.

Plenty of Oak Creek fans, both young and old, weren't about to miss the reunion.

"We came here to support two former Oak Creek basketball players," Natalie Chudzik, Oak Creek freshman basketball player said.

"You saw our whole program was here from grade school up through high school," Ken Kujawa, former AAU coach for Sims and Kostowicz said.

"I was getting texts all week leading up to the game saying they were coming supporting us. You see the shirts and they got my name and number on it. It's just a blessing," Sims said.

Support for Steph Kostowicz, Tamya Sims

While they're getting support, Sims and Kostowicz are also impacting the Oak Creek basketball program and the lives of some young girls.

Support for Steph Kostowicz, Tamya Sims

"These two, you know, when you come to a ball game and you watch kids that just six, seven years ago were where they were, playing rec ball, playing what we call select ball in Oak Creek and of course with the high school team and it's a continuity, it's a love fest so to speak," Kujawa said.

"I think they are both roll models because one day I want to be playing college basketball," Chudzik said. "They make me feel positive about myself and give me confidence that one day I can be just like them."

"There were girls like Angela Rodriquez who came to UWM and I got to watch her growing up and she showed me that you can use basketball as a tool to get you to where you want to be and that's all I'm trying to be is an inspiration to these little girls," Sims said.

As for the victory, this one went to Sims.

Steph Kostowicz, Tamya Sims

"This is my first game winner ever, like ever, so I'm going to remember this for a while and it's always great coming back home and getting a Dub," Sims said.

It was another night many in Oak Creek will remember.

Kostowicz has a chance to even the score with Sims on Feb. 19, when they play again -- this time at IUPUI.

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