LARAMIE — Jodi Himmelberg was Jodi Bolerjack when she won a 2007 WNIT championship with the Wyoming Cowgirls. But she and her teammates still get recognized when they return to Laramie, she says.
"The fanbase that we had was amazing," Himmelberg said. "We were averaging I want to say around 6,000 our senior year after the WNIT. And just whenever we’d walk around the town, people would always walk up to us and greet us.
"... You’ll see around the university, pictures from the tournament, of the crowd and everything, just hanging in all of the rooms of the RAC and all that. I mean, it was special to us. It was special to them."
Bolerjack is one of about 10 members of that 2007 team back in Laramie for Wyoming Hall of Fame Weekend. The team will be inducted into the Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame along with former team physicians Dr. Robert Curnow and Dr. David Kieffer, football standouts Vince Guinta and C.T. Hewgley, wrestler Mike Hamel, basketball forward Jim Weir and the 1991 national champion Cowgirl rodeo team.
"It’ll be pretty special," Himmelberg said, "because as a player when you go to the football games or the basketball games, you’re watching and you see all those people coming back and getting honored. You always hope that one day you get to do that, too."
Himmelberg, who was named all-WNIT that year, expects to be joined by former teammates Amy Bolerjack (her identical twin), Mallory Cline, Elisabeth Dissen, Megan McGuffey, Dominique Sisk, Angiah Harris, Annie Gorenstein, Aubrey Vandiver and Justyna Podziemska.
"It gives us a chance to get together and see each other’s kids," Himmelberg said.
A junior when the Cowgirls won the championship, Himmelberg scored 16 points in the championship game, tied for the team high. Wyoming defeated Wisconsin 72-56 to win the championship at the Arena-Auditorium under Joe Legerski. Himmelberg still has plenty of memories from that tournament — especially how loud it was.
"You couldn’t even talk to the person who was standing right next to you," she said. "We had lots of memories of shootaround the day of, of people camping outside and people from the university supplying them with hot cocoa because it had snowed that night. Some of them had camped in line all night to get in.
"I mean, the games were quite exciting. Probably the K-State game was most memorable for all of us, (Podziemska) banking the 3 off the backboard to send it into overtime, one-handed. Pretty significant."
Himmelberg also remembers being spotted at a screening of the Will Ferrell film "Blades of Glory" the night before the championship game.
"People around town would recognize us and say, ‘What are you doing out so late?’" she said. "It was like a 9 o’clock movie before a championship game. We were like, ‘We’ve got to do something to get your mind off the nerves.’
"My husband and his friend, they painted up for the games, so they got into it. They made little nooses with jackrabbits when we played South Dakota State, and they ran around the arena with it. It was kind of a family thing."
Wyoming has reached the WNIT three times since, including this past season. The year after the championship, the Cowgirls reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
"(It) couldn’t have worked out better for us," said Himmelberg, whose daughter is named Laramie. "We love it here. People are super nice. The girls are probably the best part of the team, because a lot of teams, you have a lot of drama, people not liking each other. No one on this team (was like that). Everybody’s a sister. It’s probably one of the best teams I’ve ever played for in that sense."
The team had already been planning some sort of 10-year reunion, and decided to do it in the fall when the school approached them about the Hall of Fame Weekend.
The Hall of Fame inductees will be honored Saturday at the halftime of Wyoming football's home opener against Gardner-Webb.
"I think it was kind of a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for women’s basketball particularly," Himmelberg said. "The support that we had through that whole tournament was amazing. It was like the whole town came together. Normally, we’d only seen that for boys games. After that, I think we kind of put the girls basketball team on the map."