Many good memories flashed back for Werner Christen on Saturday when he watched No. 21 wearing Douglas High School’s black and orange. Rosie Contri, after all, stands among the best players to come out of the Douglas program.
“Look up there … she’s on the wall,” Christen said, nodding toward the Basketball Hall of Fame tribute. “She’s A-plus, on and off the court.”
Contri, a 1999 Douglas graduate, returned to coach and play for the alumni team that put up a good battle before coming up on the short end of a 38-34 score against the Tigers’ current varsity girls.
“I had a great time; we all had a blast,” Contri said. “I love how this keeps growing. We had more fans, and we made a game of it (this year).
“Win or lose, it doesn’t matter,” she said, adding with a laugh, “but next year, we’re gonna get them.”
Contri was a three-sport standout at Douglas (basketball, softball and golf) who in 2005 was inducted into the school’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Contri took her basketball game to the next level, and more. She was a four-year starter at Willamette University and played professionally one season in Germany. Even after sustaining a knee injury during that season, she stayed on with the team as a defensive coach.
She has pursued coaching ever since, including stints as a basketball assistant at Douglas and at Mt. Hood Community College in Oregon. She also served as a softball assistant coach at Western Nevada College. Today, she keeps active as director and skill development specialist for Willamette Valley Basketball in the Portland area.
And, yes, Contri liked what she saw of the Tigers on Saturday.
“I just think this varsity team is going to be great,” she said. “There are a lot of athletes on this team, and the way they run, I just think the more games they get under their belt, the better they’re going to get.”
Those are words from a player whose trademark was her strong work ethic and constant dedication to improvement. Just look at some of the 5-foot-6 guard’s stats from Willamette — career numbers that include 818 points, 445 rebounds, 275 assists and 185 steals in 100 career games. As a senior in 2002-03, she ranked third in the Northwest Conference in assists and fifth in scoring. As a junior, she led the team in scoring, steals, rebounding and minutes played (35.2 minutes per game).
None of those accomplishments surprise Christen.
“She was my first point guard (1998-99), and no one worked harder than she did,” said Christen. “She was a coach on the floor, and she became a great coach. And she’s still a huge part of the Tiger family ... she comes back every June for our camp.”
A few of the young kids from those past camps are now on the Douglas varsity, and Contri was out on the floor at practice last week helping players with their stretching drills.
“It’s home away from home, but it is my home,” she said after the practice. “And anytime I step in the room here, I’m wearing Douglas stuff I find in my old closet.”
Sports helped open many doors in her life, including a path to her degree in sociology, as well as the opportunity to play pro ball in Germany.
“I got to go to Italy and Spain … I studied in Italy so I know four languages now,” she said. “Not many people get an opportunity like that, and it all stemmed from being an athlete.”
Many good memories flash back before Contri, although this return to Minden was more somber than others due to the Nov. 15 passing of her mother, Juliann Contri, at age 66. A celebration of life will be Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. at CVIC Hall.
“This has been kind of a down time,” she said. “But, you know, when I come out here, I’m able to put all that behind me, at least for a while. I just absolutely love the sport. The main thing is just to give back what I have received from all of my coaches and all of the knowledge I have received through all of my coaches and give back to the ones who are still blossoming.”