Friday, December 5, 2008

Swanier link

The link to today's story on Ketia Swanier and her Ketia 4 Kidz foundation, which aims to raise awareness and funds for children of military personnel.

Swanier is home in Georgia to attend a ceremony tonight to retire her high school jersey in Columbus. Swanier and her father said its an event the school has been trying to put on since Swanier graduated, but UConn's schedule interfered each year. Unfortunately for Swanier, that meant she had to fly home from Poland, where she's playing overseas, only to get delayed heading into Chicago, where she spent the night on Wednesday. She sounded expectedly groggy when reached by phone Thursday. She has a busy schedule, too.

"I have another appointment in the morning, then I got down to Columbus and I’m actually going to the pep rally, which is going to be different and strange," she said. "I’m going to feel really old."

Then, there's the ceremony, as big an honor as a high school can give an alum.

"It’s a big honor, being able to have that done," Swanier said. "It really hasn’t hit home with me yet. We’ve been trying to do it for the past few years, but I’ve never had a chance to come home to do it. But they planned it for this year. It really hasn’t hit home yet."

Some things that didn't make it into today's story

(1) One of the motivating factors for Swanier to create her organization was her own experiences. While her family was stationed in Germany while she was younger, it was difficult to find the competition she needed to grow her game. She played in higher age groups, and even competed with a team made up of fellow 'Army brats' who traveled throughout Europe playing teams from other military installations, her father, Cornell, said.

When Swanier got older, she spent summers in Georgia playing her AAU ball, but making it all work with two parents in the Army never was easy.

"We tried to support and help her as much as possible," Cornell Swanier said. "And that’s what she wants to share with these other kids. You know, don’t settle for less."

(2) Swanier met with wounded soldiers and their families at the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., last month, an experience she called "very touching."

"There were soldiers my age and younger," she said. "Going to war, coming back with one leg, no legs, rehabbing, and I met some guys who still have a very positive attitude. One guy, he bikes with the bikes that have the hand pedals, and he does marathons. After seeing those guys, what can you complain about? I couldn’t imagine going to war right now, the age I am, and coming back with one leg. It changes your life."

(3) Swanier said she's mainly working on her shot in Poland, where she starts for Rybnik. Swanier, one of the Sun's two first-round picks last season, shot 27.7 percent from the field as a rookie. She plays alongside fellow American Kasha Terry and LaTangela Atkinson.

"It’s something you have to get used to," she said of playing overseas. "It’s playing basketball pretty much. It’s not as organized, but the team is real cool."

Swanier also had a little cold on Thursday.

"(The weather) is not that bad there, though honestly," she said. "It gets cold at night, but I’m fine walking. And that’s good for me because I don’t like cold weather."

(4) Swanier wore No. 21 in high school, her mother's number when she played. Ketia wears No. 11 for the Sun, as she did for UConn.

"But when she got to UConn, 21 was taken (by Nicole Wolff)," Cornell Swanier said. "So she said, ‘OK, I’ll get daddy’s number.’"

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