Irish senior Kathryn Westbeld playing for a title in her home state
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Every Notre Dame women's basketball player is taking in the sights and sounds of this weekend's final four.
For most of them, it's because this is their first trip. But for senior Kathryn Westbeld, the only Irish player with Final Four experience, there's some added excitement.
“It’s definitely been a team goal [to get to Columbus]," she said Thursday, "but they have been asking questions about, 'How many people you have coming?' or 'How far away from home are you?' Just little things like that.”
Those questions refer to the senior having a chance to play for a national championship in her home state. Westbeld is a native of Kettering, Ohio just outside of Dayton, and about an hour's drive from the Final Four in Columbus.
Her old high school, which won a state championship in Columbus during her playing days, planned a watch party for Friday's game against UConn. So no matter how many are able to make the trip to see Westbeld play in the Final Four, she knows her home town is watching.
“Even my elementary school that my little brother attends now, they’re wearing green Friday," she said. "They’re going to do something special at school. It’s really cool to hear everything that’s happening.”
While Westbeld may not fill up the stat sheet, her impact is shown in the way her team wants to send their senior out on a high note.
“It’s just going to be fun to go out there, and to play for her and watch her play in her home state,” said sophomore Jackie Young.
Win or lose, home or away, Westbeld wants to cherish these final moments of playing with the Fighting Irish.
“This is my last weekend of college basketball," she said. "I’m trying not to think about it too much but in reality it is. I really just want to enjoy everything and take it all in.”
UPDATE: Notre Dame defeated UConn in overtime to earn a spot in the national championship. The Irish will play Mississippi State at 6 p.m. on Sunday for the title.