Olivia Thompson, who walked onto the team, got her moment to shine late in Sunday’s game against South Florida. (Photos by Caroline Barry)
Colonial Life Arena erupted Sunday afternoon when senior Olivia Thompson stepped up to the scorer’s table to sub in.
And she quickly sank a three pointer from deep.
The team was already up by nearly 30 points near the playoff game’s end. But her teammates and fans alike jumped to their feet, celebrating Thompson. She was one of the players who was playing her final game in the Gamecocks’ home arena this weekend.
This moment was bittersweet for Gamecock Women’s Basketball fans, or “FAMS” as they’ve been nicknamed. Mostly sweet, but certainly a little sad as it marked a chapter coming to a close.
The FAMS have been reflecting on the careers of the 2019 recruiting class featuring Brea Beal, Aliyah Boston, Zia Cooke, Laeticia Amihere and Olivia Thompson, better known as the “freshies,” as the home schedule wraps up.
“How fitting for Olivia Thompson to score a monster three as the last points of the year at (Colonial Life Arena),” Lee Foster said.
Foster is a fan of the program and reminisced about Thompson after the game.
“She is what sports should be about … team,” he said.
The “team” mentality has truly been at the forefront of the Gamecocks’ continued success. Each player has made contributions on and off the court and has played a major role in growing the women’s game.
This group of Gamecocks, anchored by reigning National Player of the Year Aliyah Boston, has especially had a lasting impact on the fanbase.
Lifelong Gamecock Women’s Basketball fan Andrew Pudding is “totally sad” to see this group play its final games.
“This group has totally enhanced my love for this team,” Pudding said. “I never miss a game.”
The “freshies” have put on a show for Gamecock fans over the past four years, only losing one game in their home arena and boasting an impressive 128-6 record through the second round of this year’s NCAA Tournament.
The Gamecocks are also on a 40-game winning streak. That has in large part been due to contributions from experienced seniors rising to the occasion.
This group has been integral in some major wins for the program. One that comes to mind for head coach Dawn Staley came right before COVID shut down collegiate athletics.
“I think the UConn win, something that we hadn’t done before, is probably the fondest memory, because it was our first (win over Connecticut),” Staley said following Sunday’s game. “No one that comes in here will get a win on this particular group.”
When Staley began her coaching career at South Carolina, the university could barely fill seats for women’s basketball games. Now, home games are a “hot” ticket, and adoring fans pack Colonial Life Arena to the rafters.
A signature home win for the “freshies,” in addition to Connecticut, was one over Stanford. The group also helped the team win multiple Southeastern Conference championships and a National Championship as well as a unanimous No. 1 ranking in 2020 during the shortened season.
The 2019 recruiting class hopes to lead the team to a second consecutive national championship in the coming weeks.
Both Brea Beal (pictured) and Aliyah Boston are finalists for defensive player of the year honors.
Amihere has brought height and skill to the Gamecocks, with the ability to play anywhere on the floor.
Aliyah Boston was recently named the Southeastern Conference player of the year and defensive player of the year, adding to her long list of accolades.
Zia Cooke is one of the Gamecocks expected to be drafted into the WNBA in April following a strong senior campaign.