Former Lady Coyotes, Brianna (Peers) Tustian, left, Karin (Torgerson) Williams, Loralee (Underdal) Aikins, Misty (Robison) Wittman and Niki (Peterson) Sterner gathered at the Class B State Tournament in Butte to cheer on their Coyotes while also reminiscing about their State tourney weekend 23-years-ago, the last time the Lady Coyotes made it to State, in 1997.

For the first time since 1997, the Lady Coyote basketball team advanced to the state tournament. While this is a memorable milestone, the connection between the 1997 team and the 2020 team is pretty amazing. Loralee (Underdal) Aikins, a member of the 1997 Lady Coyote team, shared several connections between the Shelby Coyote teams of 1997 and 2020.

“Tracy (Staub) Richman was on the ’97 State team and has helped coach these girls from a young age,” said Aikins. “Both teams had an Underdal on it, me and now my niece, Maddison. Sara Goroski Clary was on the ’97 team and her daughter, Jorey Clary is a member of this year’s team. Jorey’s aunt, Jennifer Clary, was a volunteer coach and mentor to the ’96 team that went to State.”

The coincidences are not just with the girls team, but also with this year’s boys team. 

Brianna (Peers) Tustian was on the Lady Coyotes 1997 team. She has two sons, Tanner and Teagan, playing on the 2020 Coyote state tournament team. 

Heather (Weishaar) Hansen, also a ‘97 state team member, has son Garrett on the boys’ team this year. Karin (Torgerson) Williams was on the ’96 girls’ state team and her nephew, Aiden Torgerson, is on the Coyote state tourney team. 

Misty (Robison) Wittman, a member of the ’96 and ’97 teams, also has a nephew playing for the Coyotes– Tanner Watson.

Aikens shared, “I just thought it would be fun to show you all the connections between these two teams this many years apart.”

Aikins has held onto plenty of memorabilia from her days at Shelby High School, including a letter written to the seniors on the 1997 State team from Coach Fred Seidensticker. 

 “To reflect back on the past several seasons would take a book. I do know that a goal of any human being is to leave their ‘mark’ or ‘something to be remembered for.’  At your young age, you have already experienced that with your success in basketball. You are leaving behind a ‘legend’ of your success. It will be for others to first try and attain, and then to beat. I hope each one of you carry with great pride what you have accomplished in your high school career,” wrote Seidensticker.

Twenty-three years later that time has come–the time “for others to first try and attain, and then beat” what was accomplished over two decades ago. Little did Coach Seidensticker know that the athletes he coached would go on to mentor, coach and have their own children being a part of the team doing just that.

Not only could one find (Underdal) Aikins, (Peers) Tustian, (Goroski) Clary and (Weishaar) Hansen in the crowd at Butte cheering on their Coyotes with Coach (Staub) Richman on the floor, but a number of other members of the team from 1997. The group made a plan and met in Butte at the State Tournament to reminisce about their basketball glory days while also cheering on a new generation during theirs. 

The reunion was made that much better by Coach Seidensticker joining the group, cheering once again for the Coyotes.

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