A member of the Keene State College women’s basketball team from 1986 to 1990, Tina Gonyea set the level of play that future Owl point guards are measured against.
“That’s really an unfair measurement,” conceded KSC Coach Keith Boucher, who coached Gonyea as a senior. “Players like Tina only come around once in a lifetime.”
A 1,000-point scorer, who still holds KSC career records for assists (537) and steals (265), Gonyea loved basketball, and basketball loved her right back. Inspired by her mother Marie, a former star in Ireland, Gonyea went on to sensational career at O.H. Platt High School where the Meriden, Conn., native, was the first women to be inducted into the school’s hall of fame.
Originally planning to attend the University of South Carolina, Gonyea eventually became one of then Owl Coach Cindy Stewart’s “fab-five" recruiting class of 1986 — a exceptional class that also included Michelle Zeigler, Tracey Hodge, Melinda Treadwell and Darlene Gessert.
After sharing the point guard chores, as a freshman, Gonyea took over the assignment for good as a sophomore. Displaying the skills that made her a two-time New England Collegiate Conference All-Star, Gonyea shined in her role as the teams’ floor general.
“Tina was the consummate point guard,” said Boucher. “She attacked a defense and knew who to get the ball to. When she had the ball good things happened to us.”
“I always thought that I could see the floor pretty well, “ Gonyea said. Sometimes I got in trouble for not shooting, but I liked to get everyone involved.”
Noted for her crowd-pleasing passing skills, Gonyea was a complete player. A tenacious defender, the five-foot, eight-inch guard was also a member of KSC’s famed three-point shooting “bomb squad” that led the nation in three-point shooting her sophomore season.
Making a pact with her freshman teammates to put KSC on map and earn a berth to the NCAA Tournament before graduating, Gonyea and the Owls took a big step in that direction when they captured the 1987-88 ECAC Championship.
Gonyea’s three-point shot at the buzzer sealed the victory for KSC against Bridgeport in the title game. “I didn’t play well in the game and they left me alone,” said Gonyea, recalling her game-winning basket.
Capturing their second ECAC title the following year, the Owls saved their best for last. With Mary “Muffy” Nesbit, Heidi Britton and Laura Bennett now on the squad in 1989-90, the Owls set a record for wins (23) and fulfilled their promise by reaching the NCAA Tournament.
“We knew we could do it,” said Gonyea. It was a great team.”
To no surprise, Gonyeau has continued her involvement in the sport since graduating with a degree in physical education in 1990. Playing on a several teams including the College League in New Haven and the Nor’eastern Storm, a team that faces top Division I programs, Gonyeau also serves as a coach at O.H. Platt High school.
“We still run some of the plays from Keene State,” laughed Gonyea. “I have to confess I took some very good notes.
“I can honestly say that Keene State was a great athletic and educational experience for me,” added Gonyeau reflecting on her four-years at the College.