Gonzaga's 10-year-old super fan - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Gonzaga's 10-year-old super fan

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For 10 year old Angelica Goold, #24 Senior Guard Keani Albanez is by far and away her favorite player. For 10 year old Angelica Goold, #24 Senior Guard Keani Albanez is by far and away her favorite player.
SPOKANE, Wash. -

Who do you consider among the Gonzaga basketball greats? John Stockton? Adam Morrison? Kevin Pangos? It depends on who you ask. For the thousands of young girl who have come up watching Gonzaga Women's Basketball, the answer might be different.

For 10 year old Angelica Goold, #24 Senior Guard Keani Albanez is by far and away her favorite player. Angelica met Keani while picking up season tickets four years ago. Keani offered to bring Angelica onto the court and spend time with the young gymnast who has never played organized basketball. Even though Angelica doesn't play the sport, the impact Keani left on the girl was huge.

In her first home game days later, Angelica was in the stands holding a poster with Keani's name on it. She has made a new sign for #24 every home game since. The gesture made by the freshman basketball player has left a mark on this child's heart forever.

It's something Head Coach Lisa Fortier expects from her players. She says its part of the deal. They get a scholarship to play basketball and in return set an example and act as role models for the hundreds of young women who come to watch them play.

Almost 6,000 fans fill the McCarthey Athletic Center for the women's home games. The fan base is far beyond what most college women's basketball teams see. Most teams in the West bring less than a thousand fans to their home venues.

Head Coach Lisa Fortier describes her players as rock stars and celebrities in Spokane. Junior Forward Shaniqua Nilles agrees. She says she grew up idolizing the Gonzaga Women. Her parents would bring her from West Valley to watch the games. Now, Shaniqua says she feels special to be the person that young women are looking up to.

As part of tradition, dozens of girls stay after the game to collect autographs and take pictures with the GU women. It's a time for fans to connect with players and for little Angelica to get a hug from Keani. It's a sign that what these women do off the court is just as important as what they do on it.

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