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March 1, 2012
Roper Osborne-Halverson played at Wake Forest at a time when the only real motivator was love of the game. Any game. At least in her case.
Sport specificity is a sign of progress in women's college athletics. There are enough competitors and enough teams across the country that student-athletes don't have to pull double and triple duty in order to fill out rosters. In retrospect, however, Osborne-Halverson's story has its charm and an exceptionally diverse set of chapters.
From 1972-76, she alternated between volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and golf in the spring, participating in 10 of 12 possible seasons. There were no breaks in her first two years and few of the rewards -- travel, television coverage, scholarship dollars -- commonly associated with major college sports these days.
There was no shortage of experiences, however. Of them all, Osborne-Halverson most fondly recalls the basketball team's 76-71 win over NC State on Feb. 21, 1976. Just how early was a it? From Wake's standpoint, it was prehistoric; the university has no game-by-game schedules or records before 1977-78. The Wolfpack does confirm it happened, and time only helped magnify the achievement. Wake would not beat State for another 11 years. The Demon Deacons won two in a row in the series and didn't prevail again until 1996.
Osborne-Halverson earned all-state honors in her final two seasons of basketball, during which she averaged 17.5 points a game. She was an honorable-mention choice in volleyball as a senior.
And when intercollegiate contests weren't scheduled, she participated on intramural teams that won campus titles in basketball and softball.
Another indication of slowly changing times came after her graduation, when she became the first female athletic trainer in the Wake department. She held that post for two years before going to nursing school and starting a successful career in health care.
All the while, she has maintained an affiliation with her alma mater by serving as the analyst on radio broadcasts of Wake women's basketball the past 15 years. In 2005-06, the Demon Deacons' coaching staff presented her its annual award for dedication and service to the program.
A member of the Winston-Salem Forsyth County High School Sports Hall of Fame, Osborne-Halverson still lives in the area and is a mother of two. She reflects on her playing days not for what they lacked but for what they provided regardless of the development level.
"Whether you are 10-0 or 0-10, whether you start or sit the pine," she wrote, "in order for teamwork to be successful, you have to give of yourself to your coaches and to your teammates. That lesson will fuel your success in the future. You will always have something to give."