A La Crosse connection to Florida Gulf Coast University

LA CROSSE, Wis. - The Cinderella story of March Madness is Florida Gulf Coast.

The school was founded in 1996, and in just its second year eligible for the NCAA Tournament, FGCU became the first 15-seed ever to make it to the Sweet Sixteen.

For Aquinas '06 and Florida Gulf Coast '10 alum Kim Balduzzi, that's something to be very proud of.

"I've gotten a lot of texts saying, that's where you went, right?"

When Balduzzi graduated Aquinas, she had a choice: play basketball at UW-L or go to Florida Gulf Coast.


"I took a look at the school, loved it," she said. "It's hard not to love that."

She ended up walking on to the basketball team, and in her freshman season, Florida Gulf Coast suffered its first loss in the national championship game. That was the program's last year in Div. 2. She decided to quit the team after that.

"With them going division one, I knew it was going to be difficult to find any playing time. Just a point in my life that I was ready to give it up and support them from afar, I guess."

Balduzzi is still doing just that, only now, she has something to cheer for.

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