Alexa Linger wanted to do more.
The Bellevue High grad and UW freshman had been volunteering with the Seattle Union Gospel Mission since November of 2007, and was looking for a way to do something bigger for the Mission, but struggled to figure out what that might be.
After tragedy rocked both the Bellevue and University of Washington communities, Linger realized she could wait no longer. When Chase Anderson, an ex-boyfriend and friend of Linger’s from Bellevue High School, was tragically killed April 25 while longboarding on the university’s campus, it changed the way Linger approached life.
“You never think that something like that will happen to you or somebody you know and when it does, you realize that it can,” Linger said. “Everyone says to live your days like it is your last. You never do that until it hits you hard that you might not be around tomorrow. Chase passing away definitely pushed me along.”
Now Linger is using a longtime love of basketball to benefit both the Gospel Mission and Anderson’s memory. The 19-year-old will be hosting a basketball camp for girls from July 7-10 at the First Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, with proceeds going to the Mission, as well as a portion to the scholarship in Anderson’s name at the UW.
“I’ve played basketball forever, so I thought it’d be great to do a basketball camp,” said Linger, a four-year varsity letterman in basketball at Bellevue High. “Before you knew it, people started signing up.”
Linger, who averaged 8.9 points per game her senior year at Bellevue, has 23 girls signed up for the camp and is hoping to add more before the camp begins. She’ll have help running the camp – former BHS teammates Lauren Coombs and Gretchen Buchburger will assist Linger, as will her parents and Bellevue senior Jenika Swanson. Swanson was this year’s Bellevue Reporter Athlete of the Year.
The desire to help the Mission came after Linger and a friend, Molly Goren, decided to do community service for fun. The first time at the Mission, where the girls served food at dinnertime, was intimidating, Linger said. Walking into a men’s shelter for the first time was an eye-opening experience, she said, but after awhile, both she and Goren had made good friends.
“You see people change,” Linger said. “I remember this one guy in line. We’d say ‘hi’ and he wouldn’t say anything back to us. A month or two later, he was the first one to meet us at the door. What it does for people, it can turn their life around.”
Linger said the Seattle Gospel Mission’s goal is to give people a chance.
“To me, when you walk down the streets of Seattle, you make judgments,” she said. “You have no idea what their story is, what made them end up at the low point that they are at. The mission is a place not only to get people back on their feet, but also to change their lifestyle. You really can’t judge a book by its cover.”
Since that first November visit, Linger and Goren have gone back each week. Linger said during the year, she realized she wanted to do something more for the mission, but wasn’t sure when to do it. Anderson’s death changed that.
“I learned when you want to do something in life you need to do it right now,” Linger said. “There might not be a next week or next summer.”
Linger said the camp will be fun.
“I definitely have a lot to teach them all about shooting and dribbling and passing. I’m hoping to make this an annual thing.”
Joel Willits can be reached at 425-453-4270 ext. 5060 or at email@example.com.
How to sign up, help
To sign up for the girls basketball camp, which runs from 1-4 p.m. July 7-10, contact Alexa Linger at 425-283-9527 or by email at Alexaml@u.washington.edu.
Don’t play basketball but want to make a donation? Contact Linger either by phone, email or mail, at
Alexa Linger, 1525 79th Place N.E., Medina, WA 98039