In 1997, the Arizona Wildcats won their first NCAA men's basketball championship, and the Green Bay Packers beat Drew Bledsoe and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXI in New Orleans.
It was also the last time the North Idaho College women's basketball team had advanced to the NJCAA tournament, finishing sixth under longtime coach Greg Crimp, before the current run of four trips in five years by the Cardinals under current coach Chris Carlson, who is in his ninth season as NIC coach.
BACK THEN, the NIC women's basketball team had advanced to the NJCAA tournament five times from 1984 through '97.
Most of the players on this year's team were just 5 years old in '97 and didn't have a clue of what basketball was, let alone imagine playing for a national title starting Monday in Salina, Kan.
Sophomore Tori Davenport of Post Falls High played AAU basketball for Carlson and his wife and assistant coach Carey Carlson, who have engineered the current run of national appearances.
"I don't remember that much from back then," Davenport said. "That was a long time ago. I think that many wins says he's a really good coach. I couldn't imagine the program without them here. They've had a lot of wins in the last six years (159-40 from 2008 to the present) and regional championships (four) - and it says a lot about them and their knowledge of the game."
JUST IMAGINE if NIC had a women's lacrosse or ice hockey team.
If they did, you'd be more likely to see sophomore guard Katie Buskey, who leads the team in scoring with 10.8 points per game, on the ice instead of the basketball court.
"I was never that good at basketball as a kid," Buskey said. "I used to play a lot of different sports - random sports like hockey and lacrosse and was more into playing softball as a kid."
Thanks to her friends at Tahoma High in Covington, Wash., basketball started growing on her.
“I got into high school and started to get more interested in basketball because my friends played,” Buskey said. “I never really wanted to play a sport in college, but when I fell in love with basketball — I couldn’t picture not playing, so I kept with it and coming here was easily the best decision I’ve ever made.”
CHANCES ARE, the decision I made in ’97 to attend NIC to study journalism could wind up being the best move I made also.
After graduating high school that year, I had no clue of what to do as a career.
All I really knew was I enjoyed going to sporting events and watching games, no matter who was playing.
And it’s still fun, all these years later.
Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d’Alene Press. He can be reached by telephone at 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via email at email@example.com.