Jen Warden walked into volleyball head coach Tom Hilbert’s office Wednesday for “ten minutes of advice” about her shorthanded basketball team.
“Instead,” said Warden, head coach of the CSU women’s basketball team, “I walked out with two players.”
After losing four players to suspension on Jan. 12 for an apparent prank, along with Nya Mason to an ankle injury and Molly Nohr for personal reasons, the basketball team enlisted the help of two CSU volleyball stars.
Ashley Fornstrom and Mekana Barnes, both sophomores, played in their first organized basketball games since high school in the Rams’ 78-66 overtime loss to rival Wyoming.
The two players were contacted by Hilbert on Wednesday, who asked them if they would be interested in playing for the shorthanded basketball squad.
Barnes, who entered the game with 23 seconds remaining in overtime, said she had been toying with the idea of trying out for basketball for ” a while.”
“I kind of kept going back and forth about it,” she said. “It was just a good opportunity the way it worked out.”
As a senior at Cheyenne Central high school, Fornstrom played her last basketball game in the state championship against her friend and rival Megan McGuffey at Cheyenne East high school.
On Thursday night at Moby Arena, the two met again – this time, Fornstrom in a Rams uniform and McGuffey suiting up in a Wyoming Cowgirls jersey.
“It was kind of funny seeing (McGuffey) across the court when we came out,” said Fornstrom, who did not receive any playing time.
Both CSU volleyball players agreed to suit up, knowing the team needed assistance.
“They gave everything they had out there, it’s just heartbreaking to see them not win,” Fornstrom said. “This was difficult for us, but they needed our help.”
Fornstrom’s mother, Sonja, was excited to see her daughter back on the basketball court. But she also was impressed with the athletic department’s decision.
“This just shows the class of everyone in this athletic program,” she said.
Fans at Moby arena were surprised and impressed with the gesture.
“I was surprised, but you’ve got to do something with just six players,” said Mason Chevron, a junior psychology major. “They are good athletes and were already in the program so it makes sense.”
The two players are uncertain of their future with the basketball squad, though they expect to find out within the next few days.
Women’s basketball beat reporter Jeff Dillon can be reached at email@example.com.