Graduating athletes leave Eastern, but never their teammates

Graduating athletes leave Eastern, but never their teammates

By Amye Ellsworth, Senior Reporter


Senior basketball players Kevin Winford and Carrie Ojeda will be the first to admit they were quite the handful as they entered Eastern their freshman year.

Since then, they have grown to be poised, humble and successful — traits they credit to playing college basketball.

“When I got here, I had a really bad attitude. You’re going to have to be put in your place, and I definitely needed that,” Ojeda said. “I became a more mature player that was easier to be around and coach.”

Winford agreed. “It was a humbling experience, and I matured and realized it takes more than just talent to play at the college level. Everybody grows up. I’ll admit I was kind of a showboat,” he said. “I think college basketball has helped me grow into the person I am today.”

Winford looked back on his past five years and listed his basketball highlights: the rivalry games against the University of Montana and the game on Dec. 4, 2010 against New Hope in which he scored 38 points and set the school record for 3-point shots made in a single game.

Ojeda also had a list of accomplishments from her four years, which included winning the Big Sky Tournament her freshman year and getting invited to the NIT Tournament her senior year. She also made honorable mention team during the regular season this year and All-Tournament team at the Big Sky Tournament.

Although Winford and Ojeda will be leaving Eastern behind, they do not plan to leave basketball behind. Winford is not ruling out the option of playing professionally, and Ojeda hopes to incorporate athletics into her career path as a criminal justice major.

“I want to work with juvenile delinquents in helping them choose different ways for releasing anger, and I wanted to incorporate sports that way,” Ojeda said.

Ojeda and Winford are both uncertain about what exactly they will do post-graduation. “I’m still trying to figure it out. I want to go to [graduate] school, so either here or where my family is at in Tulsa, Okla. I still want to play basketball. I’m just trying to figure out what’s right for me,” Winford said.

Although Winford and Ojeda want to incorporate basketball into their lives after college, neither of them wants to be a coach. “I thought about being a coach, but I don’t know if I could actually do it. My patience level isn’t very high,” Ojeda said.

Winford has considered being a trainer, however, because he enjoys working with his brother when he comes home from playing college basketball.

After changing majors four times, Winford will be graduating with a business degree. He studied criminal justice, psychology and computer engineering before deciding on his current major.

Like Winford, volleyball player Lindsay Niemeier said she will most remember the games played against Montana.

“Playing against Montana is probably going to be the biggest thing I remember. You take it to heart when you lose to Montana,” she said.

Neimeier will complete her undergraduate degree in special education, but she still will have one more eligible year of play at Eastern due to injuries. She plans to continue playing while working on acquiring a elementary endorsement to add to her major.

“When I was younger, I always hated to see the kids that were falling between the cracks and never got attention. I don’t want anybody to be left behind,” Neimeier said.

Although Neimeier does not plan to play volleyball — at least for a little while — after she graduates, she did express a desire to coach the sport.

“When I’m teaching, if there’s a coaching opportunity to coach volleyball at any level, I’d love to do that,” she said.