Mtn. Pointe's Powell to return
WNBA player homecoming grand marshal

Colleen Sparks
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 29, 2006 12:00 AM

Nicole Powell - Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images

A big football game, student royalty presiding over dances, bonfires and visiting alumni make homecoming a special event at any high school.

But this year, it will be a slam dunk at Mountain Pointe High School because a celebrity graduate is visiting and the parade will be bigger and better than ever, students and staff say.

The events kick off this morning when Nicole Powell, a 2000 Mountain Pointe graduate who plays for the Sacramento Monarchs of the WNBA, visits two homecoming assemblies on the Ahwatukee Foothills campus. She will serve as grand marshal in a longer, jazzed-up school parade starting at 3:45 p.m. today.

"When they told us she was coming and we were going to retire her jersey, it was pretty exciting," said Yasmine Asfoor, 16, a senior and student body president. "It's inspiring to the entire school. Look who we have to come out of Mountain Pointe."

Powell, a forward who is leaving Saturday for Spain to play in an international basketball league, said she is happy to be home and humbled to have her jersey retired.

"I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, are you serious?' " she said. "For me, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I'm excited about it. I hope I don't let the students down."

Mountain Pointe's assistant principal of activities, Patricia Goolsby, said the school is thrilled to have a role model visit on homecoming.

"She's at the pinnacle of what she could have done in women's sports," Goolsby said. "It's pretty nice of her . . . that she's taking time to do this."

Powell said she has good memories of Mountain Pointe, a school with strong sports teams and academics. She also ran track and played tennis and badminton in high school, and she fondly remembers the principal at the time, Harold Slemmer, and basketball coach Ed Dawson.

"Mountain Pointe helped me to always strive to be my best," Powell recalled.

And the pep rallies "were always a blast," she added.

This morning's homecoming assembly should be another fun event, students predicted. It culminates a week in which students wore pajamas and other funny outfits to show school spirit, Asfoor said.

At assemblies this morning, Goolsby said she hopes to see students in each class dressed in their assigned colors for the big day, including orange for freshmen, she said.

More student clubs will participate in the parade, which will travel a longer route this year, Asfoor said. Students made floats to reflect this year's theme, "Under the Sea," showing them off in the parade.

Senior Kevin Begay, 18, plans to sell fry bread and Navajo tacos with other students in the school's Native American Student Union during the tailgating event at the school before the football game.

"It's going to be fun," he said. "I just see it as more people coming together."

During the halftime show at tonight's football game, students will walk onto the field who are part of the Senior Walk, a special group of seniors honored based on their grade-point average, community service work and participation in clubs, Goolsby said. Students today will elect a homecoming king and queen out of the royalty in the Senior Walk, and they will be named during tonight's halftime show, she said.

"Spirit has really picked up, and we just want to keep the ball rolling," Goolsby said.