AUSTIN, Texas -- A special Texas women's basketball event is underway this weekend with Texas Women's Basketball Lettewinners Reunion festivities taking place around Sunday's UT-Kansas State Big 12 matchup at the Frank Erwin Center.
Every decade of Texas Basketball is represented, as the Texas Exes who returned to the Forty Acres -- more than 50 in total, many with families in tow -- represent the late 1970s through 2005.
Saturday, the former Longhorns attended the practice session of the 15th-ranked Texas squad, and practice was followed by a lunch with former head coach Jody Conradt and the current UT players and coaches.
New Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors welcomed the UT alumni who came to Saturday's practice and lunch.
"We are so pleased to welcome the Exes back to campus," noted Goestenkors. "This is a special time of fellowship and connections and building relationships. I'm glad our staff has this time to reacquaint ourselves with the Exes we've met since arriving at Texas, while also meeting others for the first time.
"These former players are wonderful role models for all of us -- particularly for our current players," Goestenkors concluded. "They have gone to do some wonderful things, personally and professionally. Both Jody and I are so excited to have them come together this weekend!"
The former players were enthusiastic and excited to be back on campus.
"It is always great to come back to Austin, and to be surrounded by all these familiar faces is just wonderful," noted Kim Lummus Crabtree `99, a standout All-Big 12 guard who formerly coached at UC Irvine before returning to the Dallas area with her husband, Scott, and their two preschool girls. "I love this university and the opportunities that Coach Conradt gave all of us. I am so impressed with the Cooley Pavilion and with what Gail Goestenkors is going to do here. This program is rich with tradition, and it is really great, that when the time comes to pass on that tradition, someone you really admire (Coach Goestenkors) is the one taking it over."
Annette Smith-Knight, UT's all-time leading scorer and All-American who starred on UT's 1985 NCAA Championship team as a senior, came to the reunion with her sister, Audrey Smith `86, a former guard who played for UT alongside Annette.
"It's so much fun to see familiar faces and catch up with everyone," noted Audrey Smith, who played professional basketball in Europe after UT and now is a senior loan officer in the Fort Worth area.
"I have a unique situation in that I am here every day in UT Athletics, so I can feel really fortunate," noted Annette, former UT assistant coach under Conradt who now is the community services coordinator/student services assistant in the athletics department. "I hope the current players get some time to talk to the Exes, who are great role models. I want our current players to stay committed and focused, and the outcome will turn out well for them as it has for many of us."
Sunday, as the Longhorns gear up to face the 9-5 Kansas State Wildcats in a 1 p.m. game televised nationally on FSN (FOX Sports Net), a pregame reception for the alums will take place. At halftime, the Texas Exes will be recognized on the court, and then the weekend activities conclude with a postgame reception with the current UT players, staff and coaches.
When Goestenkors addressed the Exes at the lunch, her final message to them was that she, her staff and the current Longhorns "are so fortunate that we get to know all of you here. You are the foundation that this program is built on, and it is our goal to live up to the tradition you left behind. We are going to try to make all of you very proud."
"It's really great to see all these amazing women," commented UT senior guard Erneisha Bailey. "They really made a great foundation for this program and made so many things capable for us. They paved the way with their success and hard work for so much of our great opportunities, like Cooley Pavilion, a great travel schedule, and the resources we have."
"I have really enjoyed hearing so many great stories that they have shared," Bailey concluded, "and I look forward to the day when I'll be able to share my own."