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Women’s basketball: Northwestern enjoys intense chemistry on-and-off the court

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Lydia Rohde smiles on the bench while out with an injury. The senior guard’s good friend, junior forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah, said Rohde’s bright teeth were the first thing she noticed about her.

Lydia Rohde smiles on the bench while out with an injury. The senior guard’s good friend, junior forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah, said Rohde’s bright teeth were the first thing she noticed about her.

Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Lydia Rohde smiles on the bench while out with an injury. The senior guard’s good friend, junior forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah, said Rohde’s bright teeth were the first thing she noticed about her.

Cassidy Jackson, Reporter

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Women’s Basketball


When it comes to Northwestern’s friendships on and off the court, there’s the old school and there’s the new school.

Junior forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah and senior guard Lydia Rohde, two well-seasoned collegiate players, stand out as two best friends on the team. The freshmen trio of guards Lauryn Satterwhite, Jordan Hamilton and Lindsey Pulliam make up the other squad.

According to Satterwhite, her, Pulliam and Hamilton were destined to be best friends. Yet Hamilton said based off her first impressions of Pulliam and Satterwhite, she wasn’t so sure.

“When I met Lindsey, I was like, ‘She can obviously hoop or whatever, but I thought her personality … (was) gonna be kind of quiet,’” Hamilton said. “I thought Lauryn, she’s really heavy with her religion and I am too, but I thought she was gonna be just a lame. Now that I know her, we’re just really similar and get on each others’ nerves but we’re really cool in the end.”

Kunaiyi-Akpanah and Rohde first met back in 2015 when Kunaiyi-Akpanah was a freshman, and though their first meeting was now long ago, Rohde’s first impression of Kunaiyi-Akpanah is still fresh in her mind.

“I’m pretty sure one of the first times I met you was at a workout, because you weren’t there over the summer,” Rohde said to Kunaiyi-Akpanah. “You came just for school, and I was like, ‘This is the most athletic person I’ve ever met in my entire life.’ No one can run as fast as you (or) jump as high as you. You were already lifting five times as much as I could, and I had already been there a year! I was just thinking ‘How is this fair?’”

While Rohde was gawking over Kunaiyi-Akpanah’s athletic ability when they first met, Kunaiyi-Akpanah was admiring something else about Rohde: her smile. According to Kunaiyi-Akpanah, Rohde has the whitest teeth she’s ever seen, and she remembers thinking to herself, “I like her already.”

From there, Rohde and Kunaiyi-Akpanah grew closer, bonding over commonalities like their intense love for scary movies and sharing memes on Facebook, Rohde said.

One of the biggest bonding points for Kunaiyi-Akpanah and Rohde is their love for books, Kunaiyi-Akpanah said.

“We really like dystopian novels,” Kunaiyi-Akpanah said. “That sounds really geeky, but we talk about that all the time. We come up with ideas for different books, and we bounce them off of each other all the time. Lydia’s a English major, so she’s usually the one that has most of the ideas.”

Though the freshmen trio met one another far more recently, an important bonding catalyst for Satterwhite, Hamilton and Pulliam’s relationship is their similar personalities and love for the sport, Pulliam said. They push each other to do better every day.

“We all sort of think alike,” Pulliam said. “Our personalities are very similar but different at the same time. We really just joke around together a lot. We like messing with each other. On the court, we push each other and we have the same mindset and goal in mind.”

A love for basketball links the whole team together. According to Satterwhite, when everything basketball related is over, whether it be a day’s practice or the 2017-2018 season, the friendship will always still be there. The memories made are always there.

“I haven’t been able to play a game with them, but just in practice, the competing’s there because we want to make each other better,” Satterwhite, who is recovering from multiple injuries, said. “At the end of the day, we’re all going to be best friends after practice is over and the game is over. If I’m trash talking, they won’t take it to heart. They know it’s part of the game. That’s what really helps.”

Rohde said to her family that Kunaiyi-Akpanah is family, and Rohde views her as another “sister.”

Many memories have been made between Rohde and Kunaiyi-Akpanah, but Kunaiyi-Akpanah pinpointed a particularly humorous one.

“This is going to sound really stupid, but every time I go to visit her and her family, we make a trip to the zoo in Wisconsin, Milwaukee County Zoo,” Kunaiyi-Akpanah said. “They’ve been telling me since day one that they have the cutest goats. She takes me there the first time, and the goats aren’t there. It’s a couple months later, I come to her house and we go again. She said ‘Oh yeah they’re going to be there this time,’ and they’re not there again. I don’t know if she’s trying to trick me.”

Email: cassidyjackson2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @CassidyKJackson

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