CSU-Pueblo senior sets school record after having twins
PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) — Tuileisu Anderson wanted to cry, but she was too shocked to shed tears.
In one 30-second phone call, her life changed forever.
“There’s no way,” she remembers, almost whispering into the phone. “I mean, there’s no way.”
Not only was Anderson pregnant, she was pregnant with twins.
Anderson then collected herself and found enough energy to breathe. That was the first of many difficult conversations to come.
And she didn’t know where to start.
FROSH FROM WASHINGTON
Anderson came to Colorado State University-Pueblo four years ago as a brash point guard from Washington. Her skills were immediately noticeable and she played in 29 games as a true freshman on a team that was already established as a perennial power.
Even though she was only a freshman, she never lacked for confidence.
The ThunderWolves qualified for the NCAA tournament and Anderson’s future was bright.
Her head coach at the time, Kip Drown, the man who talked her into coming to Pueblo, then took a job at Division I Georgia Southern University.
The Pack’s new coach, Jim Turgeon, came from a junior college, but he was a proven winner. He was different and set in his ways.
So, too, was Anderson.
They were the match and the fuse from the start.
“From Day One, I didn’t like him,” she said. “And he knew it. I am so stubborn that I didn’t want to hear what he was saying.”
Slowly, Anderson began to trust Turgeon. She still didn’t like him, but she trusted him. At least as far as basketball was concerned. The ThunderWolves went on to win the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. She started all but two of the Pack’s 32 games that season and averaged 14 points per contest.
Turns out the pair was just getting started.
Last season, Anderson’s junior year, the ThunderWolves won a school-record 24 games in a row to start the season. They won the RMAC and played host to the NCAA Division II tournament for the first time in school history.
This was Division II women’s basketball at its finest, and it was happening in Pueblo.
But late in the record-setting season, Anderson’s playing time dropped. She was the team’s primary offensive threat, but she was the first one out of games.
A BIG LITTLE SECRET
“I was feeling bloated and kind of tired, so I went to see Ms. Tracey,” Anderson said of her physician’s assistant, Tracey Turgeon, who just happened to be the coach’s wife. “They ran a bunch of tests and they all came back fine.
“Then, Ms. Tracey called back and asked if I was sexually active and if I used protection. I was like, ‘Yes’ and ‘Yes’ 100 percent. I am never one to miss a day, miss a pill, or take it late. Like, I take my birth control at the same time every day.”
The next words Anderson heard simultaneously stopped her world and spun it out of control.
“She said that I was pregnant and that I needed to come in to see how far along I was,” Anderson said. “I was like, ‘Wait, what?’ I told her she needed to run that through a few more times to make sure. And Ms. Tracey said she ran it through four or five times and that she was positive that I was pregnant.”
She started counting backward. The math suggested November, right around the start of the regular season. Anderson played almost her entire junior season with child.
“Even when I went to see Ms. Tracey, I wasn’t showing,” Anderson said. “I had my six-pack (of abs) and I had no idea.”
Anderson called her sister, Kili. She called her friend and teammate, Anna Gurau. She called her boyfriend.
Anderson’s parents still didn’t know.
“I couldn’t. I couldn’t tell my parents,” she said. “They knew all about the dreams and aspirations I had after basketball. And I still had one more year of basketball. I just couldn’t tell them.”
Anderson played three games before telling her parents and coach. The secret she was keeping was debilitating.
“I finally went to Ms. Tracey’s house and called my mom,” she said.
“I finally got it out — ‘I’m pregnant’ — and then there’s this little pause — ‘with twins.’ My mom is now bawling her eyes out and she’s like, ‘You don’t ever have to be sorry. God has plans for everything, and this is the plan. No matter what, we’re going to go through this together.’ ”
Turgeon then walked in the door, and Anderson hit the reset button and gave her coach the same speech with a new set of tears.
“He started crying. He wasn’t mad at me or disappointed in me at all,” she said.
Turgeon had been through similar situations before.
“They are never easy and they are sometimes awkward, but ‘T’ has a great family, and they all helped her out a bunch,” Turgeon said. “I felt I had to look out for her. Every time she got fouled or wound up on the floor, I cringed. And what’s hard about that is she played so hard all season before I knew.”
The toughest phone call had yet to come. It had nothing to do with the pregnancy, but everything to do with Anderson’s first love — basketball.
After being her rock and her mentor and one of the men she finally trusted most in her life, Turgeon called to say he was leaving CSU-Pueblo. He had always dreamed of coaching at the Division I level, and the University of Denver offered him a job.
Anderson was floored.
“I probably shouldn’t have said some of the things that I said to him,” she admitted. “After everything that we have been through, how could he leave? It was like I was mad at my dad and not my coach. I was furious. I was like, ‘He was leaving me!’ ”
That day left an indelible mark on Turgeon.
“I remember talking to T, and she called me every name in the book,” he laughed. “I felt so bad that I almost called DU and told them that I changed my mind. I was crying, T was crying. It was one of the toughest calls I’ve ever had to make.
“Here you are, preaching togetherness and how we’re going to win as a family and for one another. And then this great opportunity comes along and you feel like you’re abandoning your own kids.”
Showing the maturity of a mother-to-be, Anderson said it wasn’t fair of her to trash Turgeon’s dream.
“It took me a little while to get to that point, but I was so happy for him,” she said. “Everyone deserves to follow their dreams, and that was his. Who am I to stand in his way or not be happy for him?”
Despite Turgeon’s departure, and despite being six months pregnant, Anderson never thought about not returning for her senior season.
“I was going to finish out my career, most definitely,” she said. “We had to figure out how to make it work, and we did.”
At 4:01 p.m. and 4:08 p.m., on July 25, Quincie Makaijah and Melo Samuelu Henrie were born.
Brandon Henrie, a former CSU-Pueblo defensive back, has been a rock. They are talking about marriage, though they haven’t set a date.
And Henrie’s grandmother, LaWana Coulter-Dickey, moved to Pueblo from Denver and lives with the new family. She is helping care for the boys while Henrie works and Anderson plays and finishes school.
“We have a two-bedroom apartment. In one room is our bed and two cribs, and grandma is in the other,” Anderson laughed. “At least we have a huge closet to put everything in.”
She also has more babysitters than she will ever need. Her teammates, past and present, all help with the kids. They get passed around like bags of popcorn at games as people jockey to hold them.
ANDERSON, TO A T
Anderson’s cheering section grew exponentially and she hasn’t missed a beat on the court. She is in better shape than most of her teammates and other players in the RMAC. She hasn’t quite warmed to first-year coach Curtis Loyd, and probably doesn’t have enough season left to give into him completely.
She averaged 12 points — and 29 minutes — per game this season.
Anderson now carries diaper bags and car seats along with her gym bag. While everyone pitches in, late nights and long days — times two — come with being a mom. She has had to adjust her lifestyle to fit in with practices, games and exhausting road trips common in the RMAC.
Anderson played her 120th game for CSU-Pueblo last month. That now is the most-ever in school history. She could finish second in scoring.
The 21-year-old is a gritty player. She talks trash. She plays with fire and, sometimes, with fury. She’s the one you want standing next to you when trouble strikes. She’s not afraid of, well, anything.
But talking about her boys, and this ordeal, reduced even the toughest baller to tears.
“You hear parents say that they would take a bullet for their kids or do anything to take away their pain,” she said as giant tears welled up in her eyes. “And as a kid you think, there’s no way, that they are full of it. But, then, it’s true. I can’t even imagine my life without them.
“I thought I loved basketball. That’s nothing. These boys are my life.”
Information from: The Pueblo Chieftain, http://www.chieftain.com