Feb. 17, 2014
Auburn honored its 1988, '89 and '90 Final Four teams at halftime of Sunday's game (Lauren Barnard photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — They met for a good time, and they found it in memories and stories. The members of Auburn's three basketball teams that went to the women's Final Four got together for a good time over the weekend, and some good-natured full-court stories about the coach who had brought them together.
"We told all kinds of bad stories about Joe Ciampi," Carolyn Jones-Young said with a laugh. "He used to torture us by making us run."
Ciampi just smiled.
"I was hosting the party, and they were still telling the stories about me."
It was a time to smile for the players who returned from the 1988, 1989 and 1990 teams that made it to the Final Four, and, indeed to the championship game each of those years.
Lauretta Freeman-Horn sat in the stands and then was honored at halftime with other members of those teams during Sunday's game against Missouri.
"To be able to come back home to Auburn is like a family reunion," she said.
Jones-Young relived it this way:
"It brought back all those Auburn days where there was love on the floor. It was great to see everybody doing so well. It made me feel really, really good. It's been an awesome weekend.
"I haven't seen some of these girls since I played at Auburn…and everybody looks wonderful."
Some of the players who attended are a part of Who's Who of Auburn women's basketball. All contributed. There were Freeman and Jones, Vickie Orr-Wiley, Ruthie Bolton-Holifield, Mae Ola Bolton, Linda Godby, Chantel Tremitiere, Tracie Crawford-Rosencrance, Terryland Robinson-Dawson, Lisa Ciampi-Sampson, Tara Barr-Armistead, Sharon Stewart, Angie Kennan-Milford, Jocelyn McGilberry and Kendall Mago-Dunn. Three of those players have their names above the floor at Auburn Arena, forever remembered for their contributions.
The lineups over that time were dotted with All-Americans, future Olympians and future pros. But Ciampi remembers them as more.
"It was a special time at a special place," he said. "You know why you win… You look at the people, you look at the success they had in life. We recruited character, not characters. That was important. We found a way to win."
They would become a doctor or lawyer, teacher, pharmacist or some would find a place in the business world.
"A lot of the special players were here, and you look at them now, it's the same thing. It's their ability, it's their work ethic and it's the love for people. That was the key for us, trusting one another and we were powerful as five on the floor. As individuals, we were just people. The power of five was really our success.
"They were great kids. It was blue-collar toughness, a team mentality and a competitive spirit. It started when they walked on the floor. We went to three straight Final Fours. Why did we go? Because of the work ethic."
Ciampi coached them all and more in his 25 years as Auburn's coach. He was 568-203 at Auburn.
Freeman-Horn, who would become an All-American and SEC Player of the Year at Auburn, remembered who brought it together.
"Coach Ciampi is like the father to all of us," she said. "It's always a good time when we get back together. We had a chance for fellowship and to relive the moments we had together."
Auburn women's basketball honors Final Four teams at today's game against Missouri, and 1,000 fans get one of these: pic.twitter.com/rbWbMkGaRi— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) February 16, 2014
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him at AuburnTigers.com: Follow @AUGoldMine