By Sue Jane Mayes: CNJ correspondent
The first hurdle Cisti Greenwalt had to clear four years ago had nothing to do with basketball. It was her name.
Fans in Lubbock couldn’t pronounce it. Kisti, Sisti, Christi … not since Michi Atkins in the mid-90s had Lady Raider fans had such a phonetic dilemma.
It wasn’t long before Greenwalt’s actions on the court cleared up any questions off the court. Her four-syllable name has become the public address announcer’s dream, especially after one of her patented blocked shots.
On Saturday, the lone senior on the 2004-2005 team will be honored in pre-game ceremonies as the second-place Lady Raiders take on Oklahoma State in a 6 p.m. (MST) game at the United Spirit Arena.
Greenwalt came to Tech along with two other talented freshmen. One left prior to the conference tournament in 2002 for medical reasons; the other was released last summer.That left Greenwalt alone to carry the senior banner. And lead she has, as the Clovis native has paved the way in rebounding (9.6 per game), scoring (13.5 ppg), and blocked shots (86 total).
As a result of her efforts, Tech (11-3) can play for a share of the Big 12 championship against Baylor March 3 if they beat Oklahoma State Saturday.
Beyond the stats, though, Greenwalt has proven her worth by simply working through some difficult times.
Thrust into a starting role her freshman year, the 6-foot-5 post struggled with consistency in the physical Big 12 conference. Off the court, she’s battled skin cancer and survived a car accident. And if that weren’t enough, Greenwalt suffered a season-ending ankle fracture a year ago this month.
This never-give-up mentality may be the mark she leaves on an already legendary Lady Raider program. For those who may need further convincing, Greenwalt has her name in not only the Tech record books but in the Big 12 with 281 blocked shots.
Saturday night Greenwalt and her family will be escorted to center court. Appreciative fans will have one final chance to thank her for her endurance.
Chances are, if they chant her name, they’ll get it right this time.
Sue Jane Mayes covers Lady Raiders’ home games for the CNJ.