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Saturday, April 27, 2019 1:00 am

Indiana Hall of Fame to recognize Gooden

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

Tiffany Gooden gets invited to plenty of awards ceremonies and banquets, but even as those honors roll in, the 2019 Women's Annual Awards Banquet at the Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame tonight in Indianapolis will be a special one.

Gooden, the 1994 Indiana Miss Basketball and Naismith Award winner who starred at Snider and Iowa, will be honored as one of the 17 members of the Silver Anniversary team, which recognizes the top girls basketball players in the state 25 years ago.

“Being a part of the induction ceremony for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame is a great honor, and to do it with my teammates I played with and competed against the Kentucky All-Star team is really great,” Gooden said this week. “I really value all the life lessons I've learned throughout the years, and all the people with whom I shared it.”

Bellmont's Krista Reinking, who went on to play at Illinois, is also being honored as a member of the Silver Anniversary team.

Former players are eligible for induction 26 years are graduation. Former Northrop star Leslie Johnson, who went on to play at Purdue and Western Kentucky and in the WNBA, is one of the three members of the class of 1993 being inducted this year. Beth Morgan Cunningham of Bloomington South, who played and now coaches at Notre Dame, and Kokomo's Tiffany Longworth, who played college ball at Penn State, will also be inducted in their first year of eligibility.

Gooden said she has kept in contact with several of the top players from around the state over the years, including Reinking and Angela Hamblin-Blakely, who became her college teammate at Iowa. But for many of the others, the induction dinner will offer a chance for a reunion. 

“Twenty-five years, that's a long time,” Gooden said. “A lot of people I haven't seen in 25 years. So to be able to catch up and find out about people's lives now and their families and things like that, it'll be a very exciting time. And it's exciting for my family and all the people who were part of the journey.”

Many inductees and members of the anniversary team are still involved in basketball as coaches and trainers, although Gooden is now a lawyer.

While she might not have as much day-to-day interaction with the sport, she says she still reflects back on her basketball career just about every day.

“Time management, goal-setting, prioritizing responsibilities, being a part of a team, those are all things that I do on a daily basis,” Gooden said. “I'm a part of a large firm that has 52 offices across the country, over 900 lawyers. And obviously, there's a lot of teamwork that goes into that.”

She also said that she's proud of being a part of the Northrop-Snider rivalry of the '90s, which filled gyms and helped generate excitement for girls basketball in the city.

“When I was coming up, many moons ago, I started (basketball) early, but a lot of girls didn't really start early,” Gooden said. “There was no WNBA, there was no ABL, and now we're in the time where that's all (the players) know. So we have people getting individual training and doing those sorts of those things. My trainers were my dad and my brother in the backyard. And now you've got people having access to a lot of facilities and individual training and starting earlier. And so the game is going to grow, obviously, when you have access to resources like that.”

vjacobsen@jg.net