Where are they now: Lady Griz camp edition
Sonya Rogers was the NCAA's top 3-point shooter as a junior

Sonya Rogers was the NCAA's top 3-point shooter as a junior

June 19, 2013

The Lady Griz overnight basketball camp is being held this week, and former Montana players Jessa Loman Linford, Sonya Rogers and Stephanie Stender are back on campus working as coaches.

The players were teammates for three seasons, with Loman Linford and Stender redshirting during Montana's 27-4 season in 2006-07 when Rogers was a sophomore. All three played together on Montana's 2008 and '09 NCAA tournament teams.

Loman Linford and Stender were seniors in 2010-11 when the Lady Griz made their 19th NCAA tournament appearance.

All three sat down this week to fill everyone in on what they are doing and where life is taking them.

Jessa Loman Linford

Years as a Lady Griz: 2006-07 (redshirt season) to 2010-11
Bona fides: A member of four national tournament teams (WNIT in 2007, NCAA in 2008, 2009 and 2011)
Secret vice (in 2008): Tall, good-looking men. Once answered "The silver fox Wayne Tinkle" to the fill-in-the-blank "I confess, _____ makes me blush."

Where are you living and what have you been doing?

I just moved back to Missoula after two years in Hong Kong. My fiancé (Brandon Brooks of Ennis, Mont., a graduate of Montana State) is an engineer based out of Missoula, and the company he works for (GT Advanced Technologies) does a lot of work in China, so we moved there for almost two years.

I went over there with him with no plans other than to get a job. I started coaching basketball for a company that did a lot of individual coaching and after-school programs. I was also taking some online classes. I'm working toward applying to physical therapy school.

 

 

His company transferred (Brandon) back here, and I'll be taking some anatomy and physics classes on campus over the next two semesters. If I get into PT school here, we'll be in Missoula for at least the next five years.

What have you discovered is the most valuable lesson you learned as a collegiate athlete that you've been able to apply to your life?

A huge advantage of being on any of the Griz teams is the base of support you have here. It's huge to be able to come back and feel like you can step right back in. I show up at camp two years later, and it's like I haven't skipped a beat. It's just like a family.

When I went over to Hong Kong, I had none of that. It makes you want to build that, because you learn how powerful it can be.

Now two years removed from playing, what is your sense of ownership in the program?

I was up at 2 a.m. (in Hong Kong) watching Lady Griz games on my computer, because that was the time difference. They were always in the back of my mind. You're always thinking, How are they doing?

I'm only two years removed from playing, so I still know a few of the girls on the team, but by working at camp this week I'm getting to know the younger girls, and I already feel a connection with them. We have so many things in common having gone through this program together.

How do you view Robin Selvig now that you are no longer a player in his program?

I'm maybe a little less scared of him. (Laughs) He's more of a friend now instead of being that coaching figure. He's so likeable. He's like the patriarch of our whole little group.

What are some things from your playing days that you are never going to forget?

Going to the NCAA tournaments those three times, but also the friendships. One of the strongest bonds you have coming out of the program is your teammates. I'm still great friends with all of them. Two of them will be in my wedding this summer.

When you were a sophomore, you answered the yearbook question "The vegetable I won't eat" with "Canned peas." Is that still the case?

Yes. I don't think I would ever eat canned peas. They're gross. Anything canned is a little bit iffy in my book. You always wonder, How long has that been in there?

Sonya Rogers

Years as a Lady Griz: 2005-06 to 2008-09
Bona fides: Won 101 games over four years ... Scored 1,320 career points, No. 11 in Lady Griz history ... First-team All-Big Sky Conference as a senior ... The NCAA leader in 3-point field goal percentage (.486) as a junior.
Favorite pick-up line (in 2008): "Do you have any raisins? No? Well, then how about a date?"

Where are you living and what have you been doing?

Right now I'm living in (my hometown of) Lewistown. This last year I was a teacher's aide at an elementary school. I was working with kindergarten through second grade. I'm moving back to Missoula in August to start grad school in speech therapy.

What kind of career path are you envisioning?

I've really enjoyed my time in the schools and working with the kids, but I haven't really been involved with speech therapy yet in the hospital setting, and you can go either way. In the hospital you have people who have had strokes, so it's different ages and different situations than you get in school. I'm looking forward to getting some hospital experience and seeing if that's what I would like.

What have you discovered is the most valuable lesson you learned as a collegiate athlete that you've been able to apply to your life?

With the overload of work (when you're a collegiate athlete), you just learn how to handle it and become really good at time management. You have basketball, academics and friends and family, and you need to figure out a way to fit them all in.

When you're playing basketball, your whole day is scheduled. When you're done, you have all this free time, and you're like, What am I supposed to be doing? What do I need to do? That was the hardest adjustment for me when I was done playing. But it's awesome now. I have a lot of new hobbies.

Now four years removed from playing, what is your sense of ownership in the program?

You're always involved with it, going online and checking the scores and seeing how the team is doing. Even though I wasn't in Missoula last year, I still caught four games.

I think you're always going to feel like you're a part of it. Everyone moves on and goes onto different phases of their lives, but we're still part of a family and connected in a lot of ways.

How do you view Robin Selvig now that you are no longer a player in his program?

He's just really highly respected in my book. Not only is he great to play for, but he's always checking in on us. He's a busy guy, but he still finds time to keep in touch with his former players. He knows what everybody is doing. I couldn't imagine playing for another coach.

What are some things from your playing days that you are never going to forget?

Winning the conference championships that we won and going to the NCAAs. That's a chance of a lifetime, though I wish we could have pulled one off.

In the Lady Griz yearbook your senior year, you said Hulk Hogan was the person you were dying to have dinner with. Has that happened yet?

No. I don't even remember that. It must have been a joke.

Stephanie Stender

Years as a Lady Griz: 2006-07 (redshirt season) to 2010-11
Bona fides: The MVP of the 2011 Big Sky Conference tournament held at Portland, Ore.
Favorite dance move (in 2008): The Luke Anderson Pizza Toss

Where are you living and what have you been doing?

I'm living (in my hometown of) Sheridan, Wyo., and I'm teaching high school biology and coaching basketball, volleyball and soccer. I'm the assistant for all three of the high school teams.

What king of career path are you on?

I really like Sheridan right now, but I don't know where life is going to take me. I don't want to plan too far in advance. Wyoming pays teachers really well, and I like being back near my family, but I love Missoula, and I'd love to come back here if the opportunity presents itself.

What have you discovered is the most valuable lesson you learned as a collegiate athlete that you've been able to apply to your life?

Definitely teamwork, but I think you take that from any level of athletics. You have to be able to work with different people and different types of personalities. And learning to respect everyone and their differences.

You have to have a drive and determination in your life. If you don't have that, then there's no point. You should want to compete and be the best in everything you do.

Now two years removed from playing, what is your sense of ownership in the program?

I follow them as best I can and try to get to as many games as possible. It's tough being in Sheridan, because it's eight hours away, but it I can make a game, I'll do anything I can to get there.

We live way out in the country, so we don't have internet, but I'll get on the computer at school and see what's been happening.

Are you surprised by the connection you still feel to the program?

Not really. I think it would feel weird if I didn't pay attention to it. I have a connection because there are still players on the team who I played with. Then when you come to camp you get to meet the younger girls who you didn't get to play with. You get to know them, and then you want to continue following them as well.

How do you view Robin Selvig now that you are no longer a player in his program?

I see him the same way. He's still Coach Rob to me. There is always going to be that respect of coach and player. It's nice to talk to him and see what his perspective is of the team. When you're no longer playing, you get the unfiltered version, and it makes you wonder, What was he saying about us?

What are some things from your playing days that you are never going to forget?

It's hard to choose. When I was a sophomore and we won the Big Sky and hosted the tournament when Mandy (Morales) and Sonya were seniors, I played a little bit, but it wasn't about the playing. Those were the players I idolized and looked up to. It felt like you were a part of such a bigger whole.

And then obviously when we were seniors and we won. That was a lot of fun. I remember right when the buzzer went off, the only thing I could think about was finding Robin and the coaches so I could give them huge hugs.

And I don't think anyone forgets the feeling of walking into (Dahlberg Arena) and experiencing the feeling of everybody wanting to cheer for you. What better feeling could you get?

When you were a sophomore you were asked for the Lady Griz yearbook to list the most expensive speeding ticket you had ever received. You answered that you'd never been pulled over. Is that still the case?

That is still the case. I guess I got pulled over once when I was driving a tractor because of the lights or something, but they didn't give me a ticket.

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