by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
Fight songs in North American sports, especially those of college and university folk lore, carry a lot of weight.
Prior to every Jayhawks men's basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse, 16,000–strong, sing the traditional University of Kansas alma mater "Crimson and the Blue".
It is followed by the famous Rock Chalk Chant.
For the first two years of Brittney Thibeaux's post-secondary basketball career, the official fight song was "Go Science Go."
Which is apropos when you are in Wahpeton, North Dakota attending the North Dakota State College of Science.
Born in Sand Diego, California. Thibeaux, now a member of the Olds Bronco's women's basketball team in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference, moved to Japan at the age of two.
Her father, Troy, was in the U.S.A. Navy, and Japan would be home for the next seven years.
"I don't remember much about Japan,' admits Thibeaux, now 21 years-old. "We stayed on the navy base (Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture) and we had a lot of freedom growing up. We were able to wander around the town and talk to people... things we could not do back in the States. The people were kind and the culture was interesting. It was a great experience to have growing up."
The family returned to the USA to reside in Grayslake, Illinois, her father now part of the Great Lakes Naval Base.
It is here that Thibeaux discovered basketball.
"To be honest, I did not started playing until Grade 7," recalls Thibeaux, a 6-foot forward/centre . "I had a couple of growth spurts and I was clumsy and not that athletic at first. I did not start until Grade 10."
Along with playing Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball during the summer and high school accolades while a member of the Grayslake North High School Knights, Thibeaux also benefited by playing hoops of a different kind.
"My dad taught me so much about basketball," said Thibeaux, who is enrolled in business administration. "He wasn't a pro player or anything like that...but he molded me into the player I am today.
"He would take me to the navy base and he would have me playing against the men. I was in high school, so it helped me playing against the men who were stronger. When I go back home, I still go there to play when I get a chance."
Enrolling at North Dakota State College of Science, she had two remarkable seasons.
Her rookie year (2014-2015) was showcased by a 16.2 points per game (ppg) average in only 15.6 minutes per game.
Starting 30 of 32 games, she shot an impressive 57% from the field.
The following year (2015-2016) she upped her scoring to 17.2 ppg in only 19.6 minutes per game. Once again starting 30 of 32 games, her shooting percentage was an impressive 61%..
She would be honoured with Mon-Dak Conference (MDC) First Team and Player of the Year status, Region X111 First Team All Star recognition. and a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division 1 All-American selection.
"It was a change going to North Dakota," said Thibeaux. "There wasn't a lot to do except for school and basketball. Being away from home helped me grow as a women and as a basketball player."
Part of that growth was sitting out 2016-2017.
"Because of financial reasons and waiting for my associate degree, I did not play anywhere," said Thibeaux. "Instead I was working as a manager at a sandwich shop back home."
Hearing of her availability, Olds' assistant coach Peter Sambu contacted her to talk about her coming north of the border to continue her education.
"At first I did not answer the telephone calls as they were a Canadian number. The third time he left a voice mail and I called back," recalls Thibeaux.
"I knew that my basketball was not over. Everything happens for a reason. Coach tells me we have to embrace the process and I take that to heart. Everything happens for a reason. I'm just glad to be back playing the game."
Her "playing the game" is evident as she currently leads the ACAC in scoring with a 25.1 ppg average while shooting an impressive 62 % with 11.6 rebounds per game added on.
Of playing in the ACAC, Thibeaux says: "At (North Dakota State College of Science) there was a lot more individual talent but here in the ACAC, overall, the teams are better."
Such is Thibeaux's interest in Canadian hoops, that she "would like my little sister (Brandi, a 5-foot-6 starting point guard for St. Joseph High School in Lake Villa, Illinois.) come to Olds next year."
Thibeaux concluded: "Never in a million years, did I think I would be playing basketball in Canada. It's a second chance for me coming here. A chance to prove that I still have the talent and faith in myself to continue playing."