A pair of impressive Pronghorns alumni are set to have their jerseys lifted into the rafters at the University of Lethbridge, more than 30 years after finishing their post-secondary careers on the hardcourt.
Shawna Kolaczek and Perry Mirkovich will be honoured in person when COVID-19 restrictions allow, but on Wednesday the pair of highly decorated Pronghorns spoke with the media.
“It’s a great honour to know that the Pronghorns family thinks that I deserve it,” said Kolczek from her home in Germany. She competed as Shawna Molcak for the ‘Horns between 1986 and 1991.
“To know that my jersey is going to hang up there, and there will never be another person to wear No. 10 at the University of Lethbridge, it’s one of those feelings where you’re just kind of in awe.”
Kolaczek becomes the first female athlete to ever have her jersey retired by the U of L, and for good reason.
She was the Canada West player of the year in 1989, and a four-time Canada West all-star, as well as the U of L female athlete of the year for four straight years.
It’s been 30 years since Kolaczek suited up for the ‘Horns, but she remains the program’s all-time leader in points (1,551) and assists (368).
“Records are meant to fall,” she said with a laugh.
Kolaczek went on to have an outstanding international career following her time with the Pronghorns, including representing Canada from 1990 to 2000, and representing her country at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Lethbridge product Mirkovich donned the blue and gold from 1975 to 1980, after graduating from Winston Churchill High School.
Mirkovich says he was thrilled when he was contacted by the school with the news.
“I’ve got to admit, I got quite emotional about it; I was choked up, I was teary eyed,” he said.
“It’s a magical time of life, really; you’re young and your whole life is ahead of you. I was really lucky because I got to play basketball — a sport I just love — with a bunch of guys that became my brothers.”
Mirkovich was named a Canada West all-star in each of his final three seasons, and won back-to-back Canada West scoring titles in 1979 and 1980.
When he wrapped up his five years with the ‘Horns, Mirkovich set the school’s all-time scoring record with 1,690 points; a record that remained his for almost 20 years.
The Lethbridge native was named to the 1980 Canadian National team; he’s officially recognized as an Olympian, despite Canada boycotting the 1980 games in Moscow.
Mirkovich was also a sixth-round pick in the 1980 NBA Draft by the Portland Trailblazers.
He says what sticks out to him about his time as a Pronghorn is the connections he made.
“That program is a part of my life, it’s a part of my soul, really,” he said. “For me, it’s playing with the guys I played with. It’s like a brotherhood, it’s like a family, and I’ll be honest I really miss it.”
The Pronghorns intend to hose a live event to honour both Mirkovich and Kolaczek once COVID-19 restrictions will allow it.