This was a final opportunity for the community to congratulate the Bears on their 31-1 season and for the team to thank the fans for their support over the course of the year.
"We got to say thank you for following us for the whole year," SSU junior forward Alison Meyer said. "It was kind of a good closing for a good year."
The team completed the first perfect regular season in SSU womens basketball history before falling in the second round of the NAIA National Championships Friday afternoon.
"I think this is a step in the process of mending broken hearts," SSU head coach Robin Hagen-Smith said. "It was nice that we had everybody here, especially the Golden Bears. They have been the main ones that came through and supported us. It was just nice to kind of recap the highlights of what was important and not just think about that last game."
Hagen-Smith talked about the team taking a trip to Notre Dame Elementary School to read to kindergarteners, their work with kids at the Special Olympics clinic in Sioux City, Iowa and autograph sessions with local youths following some home games this year.
"Those little kids are looking in (the players') eyes like they're heroes," Hagen-Smith said. "Our players, I don't think, have any idea how much these little kids look up to them and they want to be like them. I hope they transfer that into life—that it's important to be a role model."
On the court, Hagen-Smith said that the team gave it their best shot, and though (a national title) wasn't meant to be, they still had a "great season."
"I know that it’s a long season," Meyer said. "We were able to do what we did over a long amount of time. That’s something hard to do. It’s a really long process to go through preseason conditioning, games, and then to do that over a long period of time. It's a good feeling, knowing that we did all of that. It's a really big accomplishment for our team."
The opportunity to get some distance from the final defeat gave Hagen-Smith the opportunity to reflect and find the words she was unable to come up with moments after her team was eliminated from the national tournament.
"They needed this time and space and so did I," she said. "There was nothing that I was going to say (Friday) that would have helped matters. So I was glad I had the opportunity to let them know what really was important. Hopefully all those things that I talked about—the highlights I remember—I hope they transfer that over and make a positive difference in other peoples' lives. That's what it's all about."
The Bears finished the season ranked No. 2 in the NAIA Division II poll.