Former South Kitsap teammates reunite on court at Western Oregon

South Kitsap graduate Dana Goularte leads the Western Oregon University Wolves in several statistical categories, including points per game (18.4), this season. - Photo courtesy
South Kitsap graduate Dana Goularte leads the Western Oregon University Wolves in several statistical categories, including points per game (18.4), this season.
— image credit: Photo courtesy

SEATTLE — While their time on the hardwood is finite, they hope their passion for sports translates into a lifelong pursuit.

South Kitsap graduates Dana Goularte and Jackie Steiger do not intend to leave athletics after they exhaust their eligibility at Western Oregon University.

Goularte, a junior, who scored a game-high 27 points during last week’s 72-56 loss at Seattle Pacific, is closer to facing that prospect. When she is not on the court, Goularte might be found selling tickets at Wolves’ football or volleyball games. In the process, she has met several athletes and WOU administrators.

“My big picture is to be an athletic director for a college or a high school,” said Goularte, a business major. “I love the process of molding student-athletes into good people.”

First-year WOU women’s basketball coach Holli Howard-Carpenter and Steiger both praised Goularte’s leadership qualities.

“She’s what’s keeps this team going,” said Steiger, who was Goularte’s roommate during the summer. “It’s so much fun to be on her side. She’s so positive in every way.”

Steiger, a redshirt freshman, has similar aspirations to Goularte. She comes from a sports family — Steiger’s older brother, Brady, a 2009 South graduate, now plays in the New York Yankees’ organization. Steiger said she is considering a business major with a minor in sports administration.

“I would love to be around sports as long as possible,” she said, adding that has not decided on a specific athletic-related career yet.

While Goularte and Steiger share similar passions, their roles for the Wolves are much different. Goularte still displays the athleticism that helped her excel in three sports as a junior at South. On consecutive possessions during the second half at SPU, Goularte stole a pass and blocked SPU leading scorer Katie Benson.

“I still think hustle is kind of the glory of steals and blocks,” Goularte said.

But Goularte is more than just the defensive-first player who helped South to the second round of the Class 4A state tournament as a senior in 2011. Because Goularte focused on soccer as an adolescent and then played at tiny Life Christian Academy in Tacoma before transferring to South as a junior, she acknowledged that she needed to refine her skills in several areas.

“I definitely see a big difference just from watching film from last year,” Howard-Carpenter said.

Goularte leads WOU in most statistical categories, including points (18.4), rebounds (8.6) and blocks (1.9) per game and field goal (.512) and 3-point (.462) percentage through 17 games.

“I’m sure glad she’s a junior so I can have her for another year and the program can have her for another year,” Howard-Carpenter said.

Steiger is grateful for more time. She tore the patella tendon in her left knee at South and had surgery following her graduation in 2012.

“It was not a very successful surgery, so it took a lot longer,” Steiger said. “I never even practiced last year because I was rehabbing full-time. It’s been rough trying to get back into it.”

The Wolves have a 5-12 record and fell to 2-7 in Great Northwest Athletic Conference play after a 79-57 setback Saturday at Montana State University Billings. Steiger averages 3 points per game and shots just 31.6 percent from the field. She acknowledges that the 3-point shooting prowess and other skills she displayed at South have not quite returned since her surgery.

“It still gets really sore and it’s hard to move sometimes just like stiffness,” she said. “I’m getting there. It’s coming back, but it’s definitely been a slow process.”

Goularte said she is confident Steiger can regain her previous form.

“I know what she can do,” she said. “I just tell her, ‘You are a great defender. Keep that and the offense will come.’ ”

Howard-Carpenter, who inherited the program from the retired Greg Bruce, believes Steiger can be a catalyst toward future success

“I see a huge upside with her,” she said. “Sitting out last year and being able to watch, I think she was able to learn. I think she has a good basketball IQ.”

Barring an opportunity to play professionally, Goularte might even be around to watch Steiger’s development.

“What player wouldn’t love to play after college?” Goularte said. “If the opportunity’s there, I would definitely take it in a heartbeat. If not, I would love to work at Western Oregon. I love the atmosphere. It’s absolutely amazing.”

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