MISSOULA — Four high school girls signed National Letters of Intent to play for the Montana women's basketball team during the NCAA’s early signing period this week.
Joining Montana next season will be coach Shannon Schweyen's daughter, Jordyn Schweyen, along with her Missoula Sentinel teammate, Kylie Frohlich, and Katie Mayhue of Albany, Oregon, and Carmen Gfeller of Colfax, Washington.
“Katie has the potential to play anything from the one to the three," coach Schweyen said. "Kylie is a proven scorer and a blue-collar worker who plays bigger than she is, and Carmen is really versatile. She’s a big, strong girl who can handle and shoot it and score in the post.
“Jordyn has moved around a bunch in high school. She started in the post. She moved to the wing the next year and has played the point. She’s done a little bit of everything.”
The first two to commit, in June, were Schweyen and Frohlich, both six feet.
Their moms — Shannon (Cate) Schweyen and Colleen (Jantz) Frohlich — were both Griz athletes, their four years on the Missoula campus coinciding from start to finish, the former an all-America basketball player, the latter an all-Big Sky Conference volleyball player.
The Sentinel duo first became teammates in the third grade, a connection broken only for two years when Colleen Frohlich moved her family back to her hometown of Coeur d’Alene to take over the volleyball program at North Idaho College.
They led the Spartans to last year’s Class AA volleyball state championship — they’ll be going for two straight this weekend in Bozeman — and a runner-up finish in basketball in March.
"The University of Montana was all I knew when it came to colleges and college campuses,” Jordyn said. “... I knew this is where I wanted to be. My mom has never coached me on a team, only as an individual, so that’s going to be new for both of us. It might take some time for both of us to adapt to that difference.”
Frohlich earned all-state honors as a junior after averaging 10 points and a state-leading 9.5 rebounds.
“Kylie plays bigger than she is," Schweyen said. "She’s six feet tall, but she’s crafty in the post with a really good feel. Some kids are big but don’t really have a feel down there. She’s got a great feel. And she’s one of those kids who goes after every rebound, and you love to have that.”
And then there is Mayhue, 5-10, whose tale can best be described as cautionary. Coming out of Casper, Wyoming, she joined Schweyen and Frohlich on the Montana-Idaho-Wyoming team of the Northwest Blazers following the group’s freshman year of high school.
In the spring following her sophomore year, she received an offer from Oregon State, which was coming off a trip to the Final Four. Heady stuff. She committed, and the Mayhues — her parents and her two brothers — moved west to Albany, outside of Corvallis, to be a part of it.
Mayhue played last winter for South Albany High. Last summer she made the Adidas USA Select team that played in Italy, its roster made up entirely of Division I commits, Oklahoma, Arizona, Florida State, Alabama and Oklahoma State among them.
A month ago, in early October, Mayhue was informed she no longer had a spot at Oregon State. With her world now upside down, a month from signing day, she reached out to her friends.
“I knew there was no time to sit around and pout about it, so I texted Jordyn and asked if I could have her mom’s number,” said Mayhue.
For as difficult as early October was for Mayhue, it was just as challenging for Schweyen. Kayleigh Valley reinjured her knee and would be lost for the season, and Alycia Harris had to medically retire. Mayhue’s phone call was just what the coach needed.
“It was shortly after Kayleigh had done her knee, and I was still getting over the fact we were losing her,” said Schweyen. “I woke up one morning with a pit in my stomach and Jordyn goes, ‘Mom, Katie Mayhue is going to call you.’ It definitely helped make my day a little bit better.”
A week later the Mayhues were in Missoula, on homecoming weekend.
Schweyen spent the next several days with her fingers crossed, but the text she was hoping to receive from Mayhue, pledging her commitment to the Lady Griz, failed to arrive. That’s because what she was waiting for wasn’t coming electronically. It would be arriving at the speed of mail.
The picture frame, filled with photos of Missoula and campus, plus Mayhue’s note of appreciation for the opportunity and her commitment to the program, arrived later the next week.
“I loved it,” Mayhue said of her visit. “The facilities are amazing. The PT program is out of this world. The community is crazy about the Grizzlies. I don’t even know how to explain it. I was just in awe the whole time.”
After moving from Wyoming to Oregon and joining the Northwest Blazers’ top-level Orange team, Mayhue became teammates with Gfeller, who herself will be going for a state volleyball championship this week in Yakima.
The 6-1 Gfeller’s route to Montana was more like Schweyen’s and Frohlich’s than Mayhue’s. As the younger sister of Brandon Gfeller, who wrapped up his Griz playing career last season, she was making trips to Missoula, to campus and to Dahlberg Arena well before she became a talked-about prospect.
“At the time I wasn’t really informed, but once he started going to school at Montana, I realized what a great school it was,” Gfeller said. “It was a good school with successful teams, and there was an awesome crowd every game. That balance really stuck out to me."