Marquette University’s ‘Special 6’ connect on and off the court, creating ‘a lifelong bond’
MILWAUKEE — The “Special Six” joined Marquette University’s basketball program after a 9-22 season. As seniors, they’re headed for a third straight NCAA appearance. They hope to go out on top, but they already know they’ll go out having made a difference.
“I think they put their stamp on the national stage. When they came to us recruiting wise, we said, ‘We’re going to be a Top 10 program,’ and we did it — and we got there with this group,” said Carolyn Kieger, Marquette University head coach.
“It’s just unbelievable how far we came. Just watching each other and our sisters just grow together, and the additions to the team — it’s just crazy to see and be a part of something like this,” said Amani Wilborn, guard.
The Golden Eagles beat Xavier on Sunday, Feb. 24 at the Al McGuire Center, clinching at least a share of the Big East regular season title. After the game, the players who made that most possible were celebrated.
“This group is so special to our program, to our staff, to myself. Very emotional and I have been that way all day,” said Coach Kieger.
Marquette didn’t go all out on individual recognition on Senior Day for a couple of reasons. First, the players are individuals, but mostly, they are a team. Secondly, they’re not all done. They have postseason aspirations, and they’ll be glad to reflect after they go as far as they can on the court.
“This is our last regular season game here, but with the goals that we have, we are hoping to play here again and host, so we’re not done seeing this place. We are hoping to be back,” said Allazia Blockton.
No matter what happens the rest of the way on the court, a connection is firmly in place off the court.
“We’re going to be at each other’s weddings. We already have a trip planned for April for Erika’s birthday. This is a lifelong bond that we have,” said Blockton.
“I met people that are going to be in my life forever and I think that goes longer than anything I could accomplish. I’ve got my sisters here with me and that just means the world to me, knowing that I am always going to have them,” said Natisha Hiedeman.
“We have a standard as a program, and when you come in as a freshman, you don’t know what that looks like and every single year, every single day, you just keep striving to become the best version of yourselves,” said Coach Kieger.
“I’m not the same woman I stepped in my freshman year in 2015. I’m definitely a different woman, just more mature. They put us through a lot so we can be tough and I think we’re ready. Everybody in this class, when we got out into the world, we’re going to attack the world, show the world who we are,” said Blockton.
They have already proven to be pretty special.
The seniors and the squad will quite possibly set a school record for victories in a season, and the seniors will be winners when they go off to life after basketball as well.