During the 2008-09 season, a plucky guard from Belgium with a penchant for shooting three-pointers worked her way into the starting lineup for CSUâ€™s womenâ€™s basketball team.
On Saturday, after scoring 1,643 points in her four years with the Rams, senior Kim Mestdagh will play her last game at Moby Arena.
Mestdagh joined the team during a time of reconstruction, as CSU has not had a winning record since the 2004-05 season.
In her freshman year, under the guidance of first-year head coach Kristen Holt, Mestdagh led the Rams in scoring with 7.5 points per game, but the teamâ€™s record for the year fell to a disappointing 10-21.
â€œI had some tough moments in that first year,â€ Mestdagh said. â€œ(Wondering) whether or not this was good for me, and whether or not this was helping me, but Iâ€™m just glad I stuck with it and stayed, and came back the next year.â€
Following the 2008-09 season, the Rams increased their winning percentage in each of their next two seasons, and in 2012 are tied for second place in the Mountain West, with an 8-4 record in conference play and only two games remaining in the regular season.
According to Holt, much of the turnaround of the womenâ€™s basketball program at CSU can be attributed to Mestdaghâ€™s progression.
â€œSheâ€™s been a really big part of it,â€ Holt said. â€œYou donâ€™t think too much about where we would be if we didnâ€™t have her. (Iâ€™m) just thankful we do.â€
Over the last three seasons, Mestdagh has been a staple of the Ramsâ€™ offense, ranking in the top-four in the conference in points per game, while becoming CSU womenâ€™s basketballâ€™s fourth-highest scorer in the history of the program.
While she has achieved numerous accolades playing for CSU, Mestdagh, whose goal in high school was to play collegiate basketball in America, maintains that playing as a Ram has been the most rewarding aspect of her career.
â€œBeing up there with the leading scorers in history is pretty neat,â€ Mestdagh said. â€œButâ€¦just being part of a team, I mean, a college team in America, I feel like Iâ€™m just proud to be here.â€
Saturday, before the Rams take on conference-leading San Diego State at 2 p.m., Mestdagh, along with fellow senior Kelly Hartig, will be honored for their achievements during their time at CSU.
For Holt, who has coached her entire tenure at CSU with Mestdagh, this senior day will be a particularly difficult one.
â€œItâ€™s a neat day to be able to honor those kids for the things theyâ€™ve done for your program, but it is a sad day too,â€ Holt said. â€œI just hope that the fans will come out and really show her the appreciation that she deserves for what sheâ€™s done for the program.â€
Womenâ€™s basketball Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kim Mestdaghâ€™s points per game:
2008-09: 7.5 2009-10: 16.3 2010-11: 17.1 2011-12: 15.2
CSUâ€™s winning percentage
2008-09: .323 2009-10: .433 2010-11: .467 2011-12: .444