From now until the start of the 2015 West Coast Conference Basketball Championships, #WCChoops columnist John Crumpacker will be profiling the WCC Hall of Honor Class of 2015. This week, Crumpacker profiles a pair of All-Americans and U.S. National Team alumni.
Two of the members of the West Coast Conference's 2015 Hall of Honor class competed at a time in which their schools were not members of the WCC.
Nevertheless, that's not going to stop either Elaina Oden or Aleisha Rose from going to Las Vegas and enjoying the moment with their fellow honorees in ceremonies on March 6 at the Orleans Hotel and Casino.
"I am super grateful and flattered,'' said Rose, one of the finest players in the history of BYU women's soccer and currently an assistant coach on Jennifer Rockwood's staff in Provo. "It's always nice to be honored for when you played. We're in the WCC now and they want to recognize me and the BYU women's team for what we accomplished.''
Rose, a midfielder, was a four-time All-American from 2000-03, including three straight first-team selections. She's still BYU's career and single-game leader in assists.
As for Oden, all she accomplished in her volleyball career was to lead Pacific to back-to-back NCAA championships in 1985 and '86 as a middle blocker; she earned All-American honors in both seasons as the Tigers amassed a record of 75-6. Oh, and she went on to represent the U.S. on two Olympic teams, Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996.
"If someone wants to bring me to Vegas, I'm really honored,'' Oden said. "I'm really looking forward to it. Some people from work are coming with me. I'm fired up to go to a (WCC Tournament) basketball game.''
Rose and Oden will be honored along with stellar athletes from the conference's other eight members, including Jason Bay (Gonzaga, baseball), Rich Adelman (Loyola Marymount, basketball), Dane Suttle (Pepperdine, basketball), Jim Sollars (Portland, women's basketball coach), Odell Johnson (Saint Mary's, basketball), Scott Thompson (San Diego, basketball), Jim Brovelli (San Francisco, basketball) and Bud Ogden (Santa Clara, basketball).
While Rose (2000-03) and Oden (1985-89) were similarly accomplished in college, their careers diverged once they left their campuses.
Rose was selected for the U.S. national team in 2004 but soon gave up the sport because she did not like the all-encompassing lifestyle that soccer on that level demanded. Living in Provo with husband Chris, daughters Hannah, 7, and Addison, 7, and son Hudson, 4, is proof that Rose made the right decision on the direction of her life.
"The lifestyle you have to live if you're going to be a top-level athlete was challenging,'' Rose, now 32, said. "The lifestyle was hard for me. I wanted to have that balance between church and family. It just wasn't right for me. It wasn't a bad experience at all. I have nothing but good things to say about my experience and the people I was around.''
The 48-year-old Oden, meanwhile, flourished on her sport's national team and retains strong and positive memories from her experiences at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996.
"My favorite was going foam dancing,'' she said of a nightclub trend popular when she was in Barcelona with the U.S. Olympic team.
Asked for one favorite moment as a member of the national team, Oden recalled a post-Olympic tour in 1996 in which the U.S. team played exhibition games at the alma maters of each of its players. When the tour rolled into Stockton, Oden started out playing for the U.S. team but switched to Pacific in mid-match, a practice that was observed at each stop of the tour.
When she went over to the Pacific side, Oden started out on the front row and stayed there as her teammates set her up for just about every smash over the net.
"That was probably my greatest game at my home arena,'' she said. "I hit something crazy. I scored everywhere, left, right and center. I was pretty tired. I was in good enough shape.''
These days, Oden lives in her native Orange County and works for the State of California. Her time at Pacific is never far from her mind.
"I couldn't have asked for a better college experience. I'm still in contact with all my college teammates. We're kind of a close-knit group. (Pacific has) a rich volleyball tradition. Those guys are still some of my best friends.''
On a sad note, Oden said during a reunion of her Pacific teammates a couple of years ago the group mourned the passing of teammates Sharon Kasser and Cathy Scotlan. "We all came together and reunited,'' Oden said.
Like Oden, Rose had no trouble dialing up a favorite memory from her time playing soccer for BYU. It was in 2003, her senior year, and the Cougars were in the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16, playing Villanova on its home field in Pennsylvania.
"We made it to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history,'' Rose said. "It was pretty special. We were in a shootout. Those are pretty nerve-wracking. All five of our girls made their shots and then our keeper made a huge save and that was pretty cool.''
Rose was one of those five, the second one to step up, to be exact.
"I hit it on the lower left side'' into the net, Rose recalled. "It had enough (velocity) to go in. You visualize it in your mind and you're thinking, `Please go in.' I still remember that feeling. That's pretty special.''
A midfielder in her playing days, Rose concentrates on that area as an assistant coach at her alma mater. Asked what that entails, she said, "I help with possessions and positioning, movement off the ball, the rhythm of the game.''
When the WCC celebrates its Hall of Honor Class of 2015, it won't matter that when Rose and Oden played, neither BYU nor Pacific was a member of the conference. It's a happy time for all. Fired up as she said she is, Oden might even look for a place to indulge in a little foam dancing. It's Vegas, after all.
John Crumpacker spent more than three decades working at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle. During his career he has covered the full gamut of sports from prep to professionals. Most recently, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for Cal through the end of the 2013-14 season. In addition to covering 10 Olympic Games, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers. He is a two-time winner of the Track & Field Writers of America annual writing award and has several APSE Top 10 writing awards.