Tears shed in jubilant but bittersweet KCKCC title run

Magnolia (Arkansas) teammates Kisi Young (5) and Lillie Moore (20) shared an emotional moment with teammates Nija Collier, left, and Caitlyn Stewart after KCKCC’s 84-59 win over Union County in the NJCAA DII national championship game. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins)

by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC

Amid a wild and raucous celebration of Kansas City Kansas Community College’s second NJCAA DII national basketball championship, a few tears were also shed – the most by freshman guard Lenaejha Evans.

Unknown to Evans, her father had come all the way from Conway, South Carolina, and watched the Blue Devils’ 84-59 win over Union County in the title game played at North Ark in Harrison, Arkansas, and it wasn’t until the post-game awards ceremony that she saw him.

“I was not expecting to see him there and it brought me to tears knowing that I and my team had just won a national championship in front of him,” said Evans, who made a mad dash across the court for a lengthy hug and then was engulfed by equally happy teammates. “I knew I made him proud; my most memorable moment – being surprised by my dad at the championship game.”

It was one of many great memories for a team that cruised through four games in the national tournament, winning by an average margin of 18.25 points a game. Here are others:

“Getting subbed out with 1:30 left in the fourth quarter of the National Championship game and coming to the bench looking at all the sophomores I started this journey with was the most bittersweet moment I’ve ever had,” said sophomore captain Camryn Swanson. “Kisi and Nija are my best friends and knowing that was the last time we’ll ever play together in a game was tough. However, I couldn’t feel more blessed from this experience. All of us sophomores have a special bond, one that will last a lifetime and for that I am grateful.”

“Sitting on the bench knowing that we had won and seeing my best friend Camryn Swanson getting subbed out crying and giving me and Kisi Young a big hug and knowing that this was our last game together made me very sad but happy at the same time knowing we accomplished so much,” echoed Nina Collier, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

Freshman guard Brodi Byrd concurred. “Knowing this was the last time this group of girls will ever play together was beyond special and I wouldn’t replace any part of this group for this season for the world. It was so surreal knowing the whole fourth quarter we were going to win but then actually having it setting in.”

“Winning it all the best thing to happen in my basketball career,” said sophomore Lizzie Stark. “In high school we didn’t win any kind of championship. We came close but could never win so to come here and play with these girls that I hope will stay in my life forever and win the National Championship was honestly a dream come true.”

For sophomore Lillie Moore, an all-tournament selection, winning the championship was a foregone conclusion.

“Before the season even started I said this was our year because we had the talent and we had a lot to build from last year and we put in a lot of hard work,” Moore said. “As we kept winning, there was a calm excitement because we knew our job wasn’t finished. So after the final buzzer to be claimed the national champions it felt like a heavy weight had been lifted and it was so exciting to see that we had endured to the end and knew we had earned this title.”

High school teammates in Magnolia, Arkansas, winning the national championship in their home state made the title even more special for Moore and Kisi Young, also an all-tournament pick.

“My most memorable moment was seeing the time run out alongside my best friends Cam and Nija and running on the court but then immediately running to Lillie because we’ve wanted this for so long,” Young said. “We’ve been teammates forever but never won anything big like this which caused a lot of emotions. It’s just been amazing to see how much we have grown. I will never forget any of these girls and although we may all go our separate ways I know that in the end nothing could break our bond.”

Sophomore point guards Caitlyn Stewart and Lexy Watts savored their special moments.

“Everything up to winning the nationals,” Stewart said. “It wasn’t easy but in the end it was worth it.”

“Coming into the nationals, everyone’s mindset was simply to win,” Watts said. “I think we knew there was no other option. My favorite moment, however, will always be storming the court after beating Johnson County for the third time in a season.”

The championship run also had its funny moments.

“My most memorable moment was when we accidentally left Diamond (Williams) at the gas station,” said freshman Carson Chandler. “This past season has been a real long journey but we came out on top. These girls have become my family and my best friends and this year is definitely a year that I will never forget.”

For redshirt freshman Caroline Hoppock, the championship brought a little closure to her worst moment in basketball.

“It’s crazy to think that the court I just won a national championship on is the same court that I got hurt on a little over a year ago and missed eight months of basketball,” Hoppock said. “Everything has come full circle.

“This has truly been a dream come true. From such a young age I’ve always wanted to be a national champion. The little girl that still lives in me tells me to keep dreaming and going for bigger and better goals. I am beyond blessed to have such amazing coaches who give so much and pour so much into me and this team for little in return. I couldn’t ask for any better teammates than I have on this team. I love them all.”

Sophomore Nija Collier was almost hidden as, from left, assistant coach Timeka O’Neal, Lizzie Stark (11), Caroline Hoppock (21), Camryn Swanson (12), Caitlyn Stewart (10) and Brodi Byrd celebrated the announcement that Collier had been named the national tournament’s Most Valuable Player. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins)
Jubilant Blue Devils rushed to claim the 2019 NJCAA DII national championship trophy, KCKCC’s second in four years. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins)

Accident reported Saturday near I-435 in KCK

An accident was reported on Saturday morning, March 23, on northbound I-435 just north of the K-5 highway in Kansas City, Kansas.

According to a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper’s report, a 2000 Chevrolet Silverado truck was parked on the right shoulder, when a 2003 Dodge Ram truck that was northbound on I-435 sideswiped it.

A 54-year-old Berryton, Kansas, woman who was a passenger in the Silverado had a possible injury and was taken to a hospital, according to the trooper’s report.

The driver of the Silverado, a 56-year-old Kansas City, Kansas, man, was not injured, the report stated.

Also not injured was the 46-year-old Basehor, Kansas, man driving the Dodge Ram truck, and a 16-year-old Basehor, Kansas, boy who was in the truck.

Legislative update from Rep. Pam Curtis, D-32nd Dist.

Rep. Pam Curtis

by State Rep. Pam Curtis

A very exciting week as the House passed Medicaid Expansion (see report below) which now heads to the Senate. Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore (from Wyandotte County) did an excellent job carrying the measure on the House floor.

Expanding Medicaid will provide about 150,000 working Kansans, that fall in the coverage gap, with access to much-needed health care options. It will also return our already paid federal dollars to Kansas, provide support to hospitals and clinics as well as stimulate our economy.

The REACH Healthcare Foundation sponsored the Wyandotte-Leavenworth Delegation Luncheon on Tuesday. Brenda Sharpe, president and CEO, spoke about REACH’s commitment to addressing health care coverage and access to quality health, mental health and oral health services as well as the need for Medicaid expansion. We appreciate Brenda Sharpe, Pattie Mansur and Todd Jordan joining us for this important discussion at our lunch and learn.

Many thanks to Amanda June Smith and Sara Rust-Martin for testifying in support of HB 2279 to help arm victims of domestic violence with the information they need at time of arrest to make safe decisions. HB 2279 is the bill that Rep. Ponka-We Victors and I co-sponsored. We appreciate everyone’s help and support with this effort. The bill passed in the House unanimously and on Friday passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It will now advance to the full Senate.

I want to give a shout-out to the young adults from Wyandotte County that have been actively involved in this year’s Kansas legislative session. Having young people from our community at the Statehouse testifying on issues they are passionate about makes me proud. Appreciate their involvement, which is so important because the laws we pass today will affect them and their voices must be heard.

It is a special honor to serve as your state representative. I value and appreciate your input on issues facing state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. My office address at the Statehouse is: Room 452-S, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at 785-296-7430 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me. You can also e-mail me at: pam.curtis@house.ks.gov

House passes Medicaid expansion
On Wednesday, March 20, after almost eight hours of debate on the House floor, the House voted 70-54 to advance Medicaid expansion. In arguably one of the most action-packed debates this session, Democrats offered an amendment to replace the contents of House Bill 2066, a controversial bill to expand the practice authority for registered nurses, with Medicaid expansion. Though the amendment was ruled non-germane by the rules chair, a bipartisan coalition came together to overrule the chair and finally have a real debate on expansion on the floor.

Medicaid expansion offers innumerable benefits for Kansas. Presently, more than 150,000 Kansans fall within the health coverage gap—most of whom are employed, but whose incomes are narrowly outside the threshold to qualify.

This would broaden the current threshold to include Kansans earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level — $17,236 for an individual or $35,535 for a family of four. Expanding Medicaid will return billions of our taxpayer dollars back to Kansans, stimulate the Kansas economy, create thousands of jobs and maintain thousands more, help over 150,000 hardworking Kansans, including children and military veterans, and keep Kansas hospitals and clinics open. This is critical for rural hospitals because many disproportionately serve poorer, sicker, and older patients.

After a 69-54 final action vote on Friday, the bill now advances to the Senate. It is expected to have a narrower margin, but we remain optimistic that the Senate will do what is right for Kansans. In a nonpartisan study, over 70 percent of Kansans support Medicaid expansion. Newly elected Gov. Laura Kelly ran on Medicaid expansion as a top issue, receiving overwhelming support. We are thankful to our Republican colleagues for working alongside us. We look forward to continuing this bipartisanship moving forward.

Here are a few resources to learn more:
• Why Medicaid Expansion Matters to Kansas, https://www.expandkancare.com/why-expansion-matters/
• Kansas House Approves Medicaid Expansion, But The Fight Isn’t Over Yet, https://www.kcur.org/post/kansas-house-approves-medicaid-expansion-fight-isnt-over-yet#stream/0

House Democrats meet with Department of Children and Families Acting Secretary Laura Howard
On Thursday, the House Democratic Caucus played host to Acting Secretary Laura Howard, of the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Aging and Disability, at our Thursday summit. Secretary Howard spoke on issues important to child welfare in Kansas. She brings an extensive background in social services to the table.

House Democrats have been continuously advocating for reform of DCF, especially within the foster care system. We look forward to working with Secretary Howard to address these necessary reforms and programs.

School funding update
The Kansas Senate passed SB 142, the school funding bill proposed by Gov. Kelly, through the chamber, but the House K-12 Budget Committee will not kick the bill out to the House floor despite bipartisan support of the plan. Rather, House Bill 2395, a Republican bill that removes funding for the last two years of the finance plan passed last session, is now the focus of the House.

On Thursday, after voting down SB 142 in committee, the K-12 Budget Committee used the gut and go procedure to insert HB 2395 into Senate Bill 16. HB 2395 contains no new funding and will not meet the requirements established by the Kansas Supreme Court ruling in the Gannon case. The state has a deadline of June 30, 2019, to pass a plan that meets the requirement.

HB 2395 passed on an 8-4 vote and heads to the House floor. House Democrats remain staunch supporters of fully funding K-12 education, and will continue to work towards a constitutional solution.

This week on the floor
This week, the House worked several bills on the floor. All of these bills passed through the chamber. They include:

HB 2188: Dissolves the White Clay watershed district no. 26, city of Atchison assumes obligations and amending the tax lid relating to the dissolution of any taxing subdivision

SB 40: Removes expired warning provision for approach of an emergency vehicle traffic violation.

SB 41: Clarifies that a violation of the statute requiring seat belt use is a traffic infraction.

HB 2041: Prohibits certain unfair or deceptive acts or practices under a life insurance policy for a living organ donor.

HB 2066: Expands Medicaid eligibility by enacting the KanCare bridge to a Healthy Kansas program.

HB 2082: Allows pharmacists to administer drugs pursuant to a prescription order.

State Library of Kansas
Consumer Health Complete covers all areas of health and wellness. Did your doctor prescribe a new medication? Recently diagnosed with a condition? Look it up here. Designed for the everyday consumer, this online database provided by the State Library of Kansas offers popular reference books, medical encyclopedias, fact sheets, and magazine articles. This full-text database covers topics such as aging, nutrition, cancer, fitness, drugs and alcohol, even yoga. https://kslib.info/ConHealth.

If the page above asks for a Kansas Library eCard number, you may get one at any library in Kansas. Most people will be automatically recognized as being in Kansas and will not need this step. Questions: kslc@ks.gov or 785-296-3296.


My Legislative Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PamCurtisKCK.
My Twitter account, https://twitter.com/pcurtiskck
My website, https://www.curtisforkck.com/
Kansas Legislature website, http://kslegislature.org/