Former USF Basketball Player Neena Pacholke Dead at 27

In Memoriam: Fallen Stars of 2022

The basketball world has lost a former college athlete.

Former point guard for the University of South Florida women’s basketball team Neena Pacholke died on Aug. 27, her sister Kaitlynn Pacholke shared on Instagram. The 27-year-old had worked as a morning anchor at News 9 in Wisconsin. 

“I don’t have the words,” Kaitlynn wrote on Aug. 29. “How does anyone ever find the words for the worst day of their life?”

Kaitlynn continued, “On Saturday, August 27th my world came crashing down in a way I never imagined possible. My baby sister is gone. My 27 year long best friend.”

The Wausau Police Department and Marathon County Medical Examiner’s Office are investigating her death, Captain Ben Graham of Wausau Police Department tells E! News.

“Wausau Police Department Officers were dispatched to a home on Wausau’s southeast side Saturday morning to check the welfare of a woman who reportedly made suicidal statements,” he said. “After receiving no answer at the door, officers entered the home and found Pacholke deceased.”

According to the police department, foul play is not suspected and the case remains under investigation. Police haven’t confirmed a cause of death and no additional details were given.

Kaitlynn added on social media that her sister’s passing doesn’t feel real and that she wants to “wake up from this living nightmare.” 

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“My heart is shattered into a million pieces and I know it will never be whole again,” she said. “One day the words will come to me. But for now, I know she’s not in pain anymore and I am thankful for that.”

In her message, she went on to address Neena directly.

“I love you more than you could ever understand. You were my very best friend. My whole world,” she said. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you. Thank you for everything.”

Neena’s former team also shared a tribute on Twitter.

“The Bulls are heartbroken to learn of the sudden loss of our beloved former teammate Neena Pacholke (2013-16),” the USF Women’s Basketball team wrote on Aug. 29. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Neena and her family during this extremely difficult time.”

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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