By Jason Shoot
Chamique Holdsclaw, in pursuit of becoming one of the greatest women's basketball players to ever play the game, has taken advantage of what the sports has offered her and seen much of the world.
Now she can add little ol' Havre, Mont. to the growing list of cities where she's been there and done that.
Holdsclaw, a high school phenom turned college player of the year turned first pick overall in the WNBA, visited Havre earlier this week to visit with family members she had only met once before.
Holdsclaw, currently playing for the WNBA's Washington Mystics, is the niece of former Montana State University-Northern men's basketball player Thurman Holdsclaw, a Lights student-athlete from 1992-1994.
Thurman was fatally injured in a car accident on his way to a tournament in Anaconda in 1995.
Chamique, a four-time first-team NCAA All-American and two-time college player of the year, said Thurman was instrumental in sending her down the path to basketball stardom.
"He gave me my first basketball," Holdsclaw said. "I'm sure I wouldn't be where I am today without him. It was tough when he passed away."
His mother, June, raised Chamique in New York, and Thurman's wife, Stacey Gonsalez, has remained in contact with those two ever since her husband's death.
And during a phone conversation recently Chamique decided it was finally time to head west and make a visit.
"We had talked on the phone before, but this is the first time we've had her to ourselves," Gonsalez said.
Holdsclaw is accustomed to a fast-paced metropolitan lifestyle, but she didn't suffer from a case of culture shock when she arrived in town.
"I've been blessed, I've been everywhere internationally," Holdsclaw said. "And I've been to Utah before, but not Montana. It's different from New York and (Washington) D.C., but I'm always excited to visit someplace new."
Gonsalez said it was a little difficult keeping Holdsclaw busy when she wasn't at Northern working out in the weight room or practicing jump shots in the gymnasium.
Thankfully, though, she had a little help.
"My kids entertained her," Gonsalez said of her two children Kassala, 7, and Thurman III, 6. "(The kids and Holdsclaw) went to St. Jude's, and all the kids just mobbed her. That was not the way it was planned, but we wanted her to see where the kids went to school."
Gonsalez said her children have watched Holdsclaw's career develop on television, but they haven't quite grasped the level of her celebrity status.
Said Gonsalez, "They don't realize just what a treat it is."