Former W.F. West Standout Reflects on College Basketball Journey

CAPPING A CAREER: Shasta Lofgren, a 2017 W.F. West Alumna, Played for Three Teams in Three Years

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Shasta Lofgren’s college basketball career didn’t go down exactly how she planned or expected it to — in fact, it ended up being completely different than she could have ever anticipated. That journey would include three different teams in three years, a season-ending injury and a shortened senior season that almost never happened.

Lofgren, a 2017 W.F. West alumna, began receiving recruitment pitches her junior year after averaging 18 points per game and earning first-team, all-league and all-area selections.

After helping the Bearcats advance to the state tournament three times, which included a state title in 2014, she committed to Warner Pacific University in Portland, Oregon, in October of her senior year.

Following high school graduation in August 2017, Lofgren seamlessly transitioned to big-city and college life and began attending open gym right away in preparation for the upcoming season.

Lofgren appeared in 26 games her freshman year for the Knights, scoring a season-high 12 points on four different occasions. Then tragedy struck when Lofgren suffered a season-ending injury after breaking her femur bone during a game.

“Luckily it wasn’t an ACL or anything more major,” Lofgren said.

She sat out the final five games and, while rehabbing her leg, began contemplating the future of her basketball career. Something didn’t feel right. She needed a fresh start.

“I came to sense of, like, ‘This is not where I’m supposed to be,’” Lofgren said. “‘It’s not where I feel the most comfortable and this is not home.’ Portland wasn’t home for me. I decided it wasn’t a great fit.”

It was time for a change for the 5-foot-7 guard. Transfer rules at the collegiate level are complex, and transferring to a new school would be easier her freshman year than waiting until she was a sophomore or junior.

Lofgren eventually decided that a community college would be her best option. It would not only give her a year to figure out what she wanted to do long-term, but also allow her to potentially move closer to home while continuing to play ball.

She signed with Lower Columbia College (LCC) in Longview and was expecting to join a coach, Chad Meadors, who had led the Red Devils to five division titles and a 224-106 overall record over 11 years. One month after Lofgren signed with LCC, Meadors left to take a coaching position at another school.

“I was so excited, I thought I had made this great decision then bam, another roadblock,” Lofgren said. “A new coach, someone I don’t know, a new system.”

Lucas Myers was hired as the new coach and Lofgren admits she was a little skeptical about him at first. She had signed up to play for Meadors, who had proven his coaching chops at LCC, not this new guy.

“He ended up being one of the best people and coaches I’ve ever met,” Lofgren said. “He’s a wonderful man and it ended up working out just great.”

Lofgren, Myers and the Red Devils cruised to the West Region title with a 12-2 league record, advancing to the elite eight of the Northwest Athletic Conference tournament. Lofgren started all 30 games that sophomore season, averaging 10.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.

With her AA degree completed and two years of athletic eligibility used up, Lofgren would need to find a new team for the third time in three years. She began the recruitment process again, similar to what she experienced in high school.

“I had a lot of things on my list I was looking for in a college, which made my decision maybe a little bit tougher,” Lofgren said.

She wanted to stay close to home and in the Pacific Northwest, if possible, at a decent-sized school where she could get the college experience — something she felt she had missed out on during her freshman and sophomore years. She wanted that university feel.

Myers was an alumnus of Linfield University in McMinnville, Oregon, about 40 miles southwest of Portland. He told her McMinnville was beautiful and it had a great education program. Lofgren, who was hoping to become an elementary education major, decided to check it out and went on an official visit to meet with the coaching staff.

“Pretty much instantly knew that’s where I was supposed to end up,” Lofgren said. “I drove into McMinnville and just felt like I was at home. It was a great feeling. That’s the one thing I was really focusing on when I was transferring.

“I really wanted to choose somewhere that felt like home; that I could be around like-minded women. On top of it, being able to play a game I loved.”

Lofgren signed in April 2019 and moved to McMinnville three months later in August. Her junior year, 2019-20, went as smoothly as possible. Lofgren played in all 25 games, starting two, and averaged 6.2 points and 2.3 rebounds in 17.4 minutes per game.

Leading up to her senior season was a rollercoaster of emotions, however. During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Linfield and the Northwest Conference were back and forth on whether or not to hold a basketball season. Even more, Lofgren was completing her student-teaching requirements.

“It was an emotional time, a stressful time. I was busy with school,” Lofgren said.

Leading up to winter break for the 2020-21 season, Lofgren and her team practiced  two hours a day every day with masks on in preparation for a season that might never happen.

A normal season starts early November, but due to the pandemic, the 2020-21 season was pushed back to a January 2021 start date. With Linfield on-campus classes closed due to the pandemic, Lofgren went back home for an entire month during winter break.

After arriving back on campus to return to classes and prepare for basketball, Oregon shut everything down again and the season was postponed once more.

The Wildcats were not allowed to practice as a full team inside a gym due to guidelines, so the players did partner workouts and one-on-one workouts with the coaching staff.

Lofgren and her teammates were forced to get creative, running on outdoor trails and using public parks to do weight training.

“It was really crazy,” Lofgren said.

The Wildcats finally did return to the court and Lofgren was able to have a shortened senior season, from March 19 to April 24, 2021. Two conference schools opted out of the season, which meant Linfield would play George Fox and Pacific four times each, along with four non-conference games.

There were no fans in the stands.

“Which, obviously, was very upsetting,” Lofgren said. “Your senior season is one of those times, as an athlete, that you’re at the peak of your athletic career. You would love for people who’ve supported you and helped you along the way to be there.”

Luckily, Lofgren’s family and friends were able to watch the games via livestream. Not the same as being there in person, but it was the next best thing.

She scored a team-high 19 points and pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds in her final college basketball game on April 24. She played all 40 minutes. She started all 12 games for the Wildcats in her final season, leading the team in scoring (12.6 points per game) and the entire conference in rebounding with nine boards a game.

Lofgren graduated with her bachelor’s of science in elementary education in May. She was recently hired as a third grade teacher at Rainier Elementary in Rainier, Washington, about 25 miles north of her hometown.

Looking back at her college basketball and academic career, what she’ll remember most goes beyond the game she loves.

“The relationships I built in college through basketball are something irreplaceable,” Lofgren said. “They’re friends that will be with me forever and a coaching staff that had my back no matter what. People that are just high quality.

“The thing about sports and athletics: sports end. This year was so eye-opening for me because it really showed me things do end. But there are those things that do last that you really have to take advantage of. Relationships are something that are going to last with me forever.”