HELENA — Each homecoming football game, Carroll College introduces the crowd to its latest Hall of Fame class, honoring the top student-athletes in school history. This Saturday, as the Fighting Saints welcome Southern Oregon to Nelson Stadium, former Missoula Hellgate prep star and standout Carroll guard Andrea Hall, now Andrea Thies, will be part of three Hall of Fame inductions — as an individual, as well as her 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 teams.
During her Carroll career, she became a first-team all-Frontier Conference selection and earned honorable mention all-American accolades. She helped the Fighting Saints to the program’s first modern-era NAIA national tournament as a sophomore, then hit an eventual game-winning 3-pointer to clinch the Frontier Conference championship her junior season. Weeks later, a 3-pointer helped Carroll win its first national tournament game in program history.
Andrea Hall averaged 12.6 points per game in her final three seasons at Carroll College, while grabbing 3.1 rebounds and dishing out 1.7 assists. A career 39-percent 3-point shooter, her junior year was her finest — 14.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and a steal per contest, guiding Carroll to the Frontier Conference regular-season and tournament championships, as well as the national tournament win.
Thies, who now works at the Cancer Treatment Center at St. Peter’s Hospital in Helena, sat down with MTN Sports to discuss her playing days, the Frontier Conference championships and NAIA national tournament trips, annual vacations with her former teammates and the hall of fame nods.
MTN Sports: When did you find out and what was your reaction that, A) You have a couple teams going in, some of the most successful in program history, and then B) You yourself were going in?
Thies: “Pretty exciting. I feel like the teams that I was on are pretty deserving of the induction honor, for sure. A lot of hard work put in for those teams. I was pretty surprised with the personal induction. I still, I guess, am pretty surprised with the personal induction, but I feel really honored to have been selected.”
MTN Sports: What was the outreach like with you and your teammates?
Thies: “They are so great. They are some of my very best friends and have been awesome, they’re really proud of me. I feel honored to be able to be inducted with them because that’s a huge part of it for me, my team is a huge part of it for me.
MTN Sports: If I understand correctly, you guys still try to get together at least once a year, right? You guys must still be just as close as you were when you were on the court?
Thies: “We do. We really are. It’s been such a blessing to have them in my life. We actually had our 14th annual girls weekend a couple weekends ago, that maybe tells you how old I am, which is too bad, but it’s truly an honor to have them in my life. I’m really thankful for Carroll to have the opportunity to be there at the time with these women because they are my best friends.”
MTN Sports: Let’s go back in time, because up until last year, a Carroll women’s basketball team hadn’t been a regular-season and Frontier Conference tournament champion since your (junior) year, how crazy is that to think it had been that long? We’ve seen some regular-season champs and tournament champs, but hadn’t seen both since back then.
Thies: “Yeah, very exciting for them and very exciting for Carroll College. I think it also goes to show that we had a really special team and a really great time. We had a lot of success and it was a great time in my life.”
MTN Sports: What do you remember about the celebration from being the first team in program history to win a game at the national tournament?
Thies: “Very exciting. We went from not winning many games the season before to having a lot of success the next year. It was just a lot of hard work. I can’t say we were super talented at that time, but we were hungry. We were hungry for coaching, we were hungry for wins and we worked really hard to be there.”
MTN Sports: What’s it like being in these stands now instead? It’s been a while, the first couple years are the big change, but now, being on the supporting end of it with coach Rachelle Sayers and her teams going to the national tournament and trying to get wins.
Thies: “It’s very exciting to watch. Rachelle is doing a great job and it’s exciting to sit in the stands and watch, have my kids be a part of it and support Carroll in that way. It’s really fun and I really think they have a lot of talent and they’re fun to watch.”
MTN Sports: What’s that one memory that stands out the most to you the player? That’s a tough question.
Thies: “That is a tough question. There are a lot of really great memories that I have at Carroll. I think some of the best that I can think of are the things that I did with my teammates and the things we accomplished together. The moments in the locker room after those big wins and the sisterhood that came from that.”
MTN Sports: What’s the biggest shot you ever made at Carroll?
Thies: “It’s funny because the shots that I missed also come to my mind. Probably the biggest shot I made was the conference tournament when we won the conference tournament against Montana Western my junior year, I hit a 3-point shot to win the game by two. It was a big shot.”
MTN Sports: How do you sum all this up for a girl from Missoula to the high school career to college recruiting and now being years later and getting to walk out onto the field on Saturday during homecoming and having you and all of your teammates enshrined forever in Carroll’s Hall of Fame?
Thies: “I don’t think there’s probably going to be anything like it, being able to walk out there with my team and to really feel good and be acknowledged about the hard work we put in. We really love Carroll a lot and really, really wish Carroll the best.”
MTN Sports: I’m wondering, do your kids know how good you were?
Thies: “Their dad talks to them a little bit about playing basketball, they think they’re pretty good, so it’s a hard comparison.”
MTN Sports: Do you let them win then?
Thies: “Sometimes. Not all the time.”
Note: Carroll College’s homecoming game against Southern Oregon is scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Other hall of fame inductees include: Bryan Hilborn, Kyle Baker, Owen Koeppen, Stacey (Phillipe) Wines and Sinan Guler.