By Clint Dick
Staff reporter

There are three Lady Jaguars on campus. They aren’t the South American feline. They are student-athletes who share an early history with each other in the classroom, on the court and on the field. Each is making her mark at Southwestern College. The trio has been linked since their childhood days of playing basketball in Andover.

Brittney Chamberlin, biology junior, Kaitlin Tennyson, biology sophomore, and Maddie Chapin, biology sophomore, began playing basketball in the Andover Recreational League when they were six years old.

“It was just something to do,” said Chapin. “Kaitlin and I have been friends for a long time.”

That friendship lasted. In 2008, during Chamberlin’s senior year, the Andover Central Lady Jaguars won the 4A state championship.

“All I know is that it was so much fun,” said Chamberlin. “We were so competitive against each other, but we were like goof balls in practice. We were a really weird team.”

The team was undefeated that season and Chamberlin said confidence was a key factor in their success. “We weren’t a cocky team, but we were really confident going into each game that we were going to win.”

One of Chamberlin’s favorite memories from her senior season was a sub-state game against the Rose Hill Lady Rockets. Chamberlin, as well as Tennyson and Chapin who were both sophomores on the team that year, went head to head with a future Lady Moundbuilder teammate, Kristy Herman, nursing junior. “That was the first time we were down at halftime that year,” said Chamberlin. “We came back and won by 20 points. Kristy likes to remind me about that.”

Two years later, Chapin and Tennyson were a part of the Lady Jaguar’s second state title in three years. During their senior year, the team went 25-0 and won the 5A state championship.

“A bunch of us didn’t play a fall sport, so instead of playing a fall sport we spent a lot of time conditioning and getting ready for basketball,” said Tennyson. “I felt like all that hard work paid off.”

Chapin and Tennyson were two of three seniors on the 2009-10 state title team. The third senior on that team is Tiffany Bias, who plays basketball at Oklahoma State University. Bias is 11 assists shy of the seventh Cowgirl to reach the 300 assist mark in a career in just her sophomore year.

“Kaitlin, Tiffany and I were really good friends on and off the court,” said Chapin. “There were so many good memories.”

Bias wasn’t the only player from Andover to move on to the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Kari Kincaid, played basketball at Kansas State University, was a teammate to Chamberlin. Bailey Gee, who is playing her senior season at the University of Missouri is also an Andover Central graduate. Gee has played in all 25 games this year for the Tigers and has started 13.

“Out of that whole group, there were five seniors my sophomore year at Andover Central,” said Chamberlin. “Four of them went on to play basketball including Kari. It made us better. They showed us how hard we had to work and I think that is why we were so successful because of the history of good players coming through there.”

Chamberlin, Tennyson and Chapin didn’t just play amongst some of the best athletes the state had to offer. They played for one of the most successful coaches. Stana Jefferson has coached Lady Jaguar basketball for six seasons with a record of 129-19 and counting.

“She was great at knowing when to have fun, but knowing when to be serious,” said Tennyson. “We didn’t feel like we were going to a job. We felt like we were going out there to have fun. She will still keep in contact with us and text us after games.”

Chapin enjoyed the connection with her coach. “She always asked about our lives,” said Chapin. “It was like she was one of your friends.”

Chamberlin said that Jefferson had a knack for finding ways to bring a team together. “We did a lot of team building stuff,” said Chamberlin. “She would take us to movies and one day we did a team building exercise with a hula hoop.” The exercise dealt with the entire team locking hands to form a circle, and attempting to go through a hula hoop to get it all the way around the circle.

Basketball was important in high school, but Chapin played other sports as well. She was recruited to Southwestern to play for the women’s soccer team by Joe Wood, head women’s soccer coach. She played soccer all four years at Andover Central.

“I was recruited through a soccer tournament,” said Chapin. “Joe called me and we talked. Our high school season went really well and that was one of the deciding factors.” Chapin didn’t stray away from basketball all together. She played on the junior varsity women’s basketball team. But her commitment to soccer was a priority. Chapin earned First Team All-KCAC honors in women’s soccer this past fall.

“When I played basketball last year I really liked it, but juggling two sports wasn’t easy and I decided I needed to focus more on my academics,” said Chapin. “I miss it a lot.”

Jason Jeschke, assistant women’s basketball, knows Jefferson. Chamberlin played two years at Hutchinson Community College and one year at Newman University before coming to Southwestern. Chamberlin said. “(Jason) Jeschke is close to Stana and I knew that Kaitlin and Maddie were here.”

Chamberlin and Tennyson are playing for a Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference title and a bid into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics tournament. “We have a lot of talent,” said Tennyson. Chamberlin agrees, “It is kind of like where we left off in high school.”

Being together was a factor for all three in their decision to come to Winfield, especially for Tennyson and Chapin. “We had talked about it and thought it would be kind of cool if we went to the same school,” said Tennyson.

Clinton Dick is a junior majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at clinton.dick@sckans.edu.