Class of firsts define what it means to be a Beaver

class of firsts

Kalib LaChapelle, Multimedia Contributor

The senior class for this year’s Oregon State women’s basketball team has a long list of firsts under their belts heading towards senior weekend.

First tournament appearance in 18 years, first elite-eight, first final four and first class to make it to the NCAA tournament all four years of their career. The senior class of Sydney Wiese, Gabriella Hanson and Kolbie Orum have achieved first after first during their time in Corvallis, and will leave as one of the most decorated senior classes in the history of the program.

“That shows how hard we have worked and how dedicated we have been to this vision,” Senior guard Sydney Wiese said. “To be able to say that for four years, four out of four, we’re going to the tournament: it’s a blessing.”

“I know coming in as a freshman we had that expectation for ourselves even where the program was at, where it wasn’t really successful at the time,” Senior guard Gabriella Hanson said. “We had that expectation going in that we were going to make it to the NCAA tournament.”

Having more than 20 wins in each of their seasons, the senior class turned Oregon State into a powerhouse.

“They are a huge part of it, they made it a reality partnering with last year’s seniors, they changed the program basically through a desire and a force of will,” Head Coach Scott Rueck said.

Emotions will be running high senior weekend. After four years on the court in Gill, the final regular season game will be packed with fans, family and friends. The Beaver seniors will take the court in Gill for their final time in Pac-12 play together Sunday against California.

“For the past four years I’ve been representing this school,” Senior forward Kolbie Orum said. “I remember last year, the seniors talking about how their year was almost done and I was just thinking how far away it was for me and it flew by so fast. Now we’re here and it’s coming up. I’m excited to just live it up and enjoy every moment.”

“Absolutely, there’s a lot of emotions that have been poured into that place: it’s like home. It’s going to be tough to not get emotional; I think it would be an injustice if I didn’t feel any type of emotions on that day,” Wiese said. “I’ve made some of the best memories of this place and I’m excited to celebrate it with my fellow seniors and family, friends and all of the community that has supported us along the way.”

Not only did this senior class get wins for the program, they also helped to usher in a culture of success in Corvallis. Rueck has said that he consistently recruits players whose personalities fit with his program, and the freshman class this year has been introduced by these seniors, pushing them to be better on and off the court.

“You look at what they have done this year and it’s the same thing we had so many new people and new places, it’s this force of will and this strength and this grit that they compete with every day that lets them succeed every day,” Rueck said. “They’ve held this group to a high standard and they’ve achieved and now their legacy will live on because of what they’ve done and the way they’ve conducted themselves.”

Beaver Nation to many is a way of life, a way to identify. For many athletes and coaches on campus, Beaver Nation is there to support them at every turn. The Beaver faithful are there in the stands through thick and thin. Beaver fans have been in Gill for every win and loss during the graduating seniors’ careers at OSU.

“I think to be a Beaver it means someone who is a positive person and really wants the community as a whole to do well,” Hanson said. “Beaver Believers are great supporters of not only athletics, but everything that goes on around the university… it’s just a great community.”

“To be a Beaver means that you have a lot of pride of what you do on and off the court,” Wiese said. “You bleed black and orange and you have loyalty to this university for the rest of your life. The people and the community, everyone is part of Beaver Nation and it forms in your heart.”

Heading towards their final home games together, Rueck has nothing but high praise for the class of firsts.

“I don’t know that they could have done it any better than what they’ve done,” Rueck said. “I’m happy and very honored and blessed to be their coach and say that I have coached this group for four years.”