Foster Friends for the Win!

Foster Friends
Karla Holveck and her Foster Friend, Nicole Lindblom (#5)

by Sherry Macy

Karla Holveck and I anticipated a lively conversation about Foster Friends as we waited in line at Chapters, a popular downtown Newberg coffee shop. Karla and her husband, Bob, off-campus Friendsview residents, joined the Foster Friends program six years ago, Karla serving as coordinator the past five. What we didn’t anticipate happened next!

Tap, tap. Karla turned to see who wanted her attention and discovered one of her two Foster Friends—Nicole Lindblom (#5), who took a break from studying for her finals to greet us and to pose for a serendipitous photo.

What is Foster Friends? The spirited program dates back to 1994 when the George Fox University Bruins women’s varsity basketball coach met with Friendsview resident Esther Klages to match team players with residents who joined the new program. Prior to the fall season startup, the coach, players, and residents gathered for a lively get-acquainted time.

Foster Friends
Jan Bell with her player, Erin Yoshitake (#1)

Karla loves the energy and anticipation that fills the room at this now-annual event as new relationships form: “I just stand back and watch the joyful hubbub!” Foster Friends commit to love and encourage one or two players throughout their years at Fox. This comes in the form of homebaked cookies, invitations to lunch or dinner, small birthday gifts or cards—and most of all friendships that often extend past graduation as the girls move into their careers and/or marriages. One can’t have too many “grandparents,” can they?

Of course a major part of the program is attending as many home games as possible, donning Foster Friends T-shirts (that also serve as their entrance pass) and cheering their hearts out for specific players! In fact they wear their player’s number on their sleeve to aid in identifying who is whose from the bleachers.

Foster Friends
Emily Spencer from Seattle, Karla and Bob Holveck’s first Foster Friend, made a surprise return to cheer on the Bruins!

Wait—time out! Who just walked into Chapters? Karla recognized Foster Friend Jan Bell with her player, Erin Yoshitake (#1), so we jumped up to greet them!

Karla made the introductions and I snapped another serendipitous photo. Who’da thought this story would write itself?

Still, I anticipate attending an upcoming game. It won’t be my first, as I remember back a number of years to the time my own parents, Kenneth and Edna Williams, never missed a game as they relished each opportunity to cheer for their Foster “granddaughter” in this program. Cheering right alongside my parents were dedicated Foster Friends Eilene and Keith Williams, brother to Kenneth, all wearing their matching shirts.

Stay with me now. Eilene’s daughter is Friendsview resident and Foster Friend Nancy Mylander, who shares her story:

Foster Friends
Janice and Brian Beals meet the parents of their player, Emma Reed (#3).

“Foster Friends is in my genes! Many, many years ago my mom, Eilene Williams, served as coordinator of the program and was a rabid fan of GFU women’s basketball. Chuck and I lived in California at that time, but Mom consistently called us on game days to tell us to turn on our computers and watch. We joked that no one dare plan a wedding or a funeral on game day because Mom would be at the game! She even boldly told the coach he needed to have the girls work harder on free throw shots!

“Fast forward to 2019. We had moved to Friendsview and were asked to become Foster Friends to Coach Mike Coppolino. We jumped at the opportunity, enjoyed getting acquainted with the new coach, and attending games. Two years ago we added Ella Roberts (#4) as our Foster Friend. During COVID-19 we couldn’t attend any games, but thankfully this year is a different story. Foster Friends is a joy and a privilege. Go Bruins!”

As Karla and I readied to leave, we looked around Chapters, almost expecting to see Karla’s other player, Rachel Parks (#2). Well, a writer can dream….