Former women’s basketball player dies unexpectedly

Neena Pacholke was a student-athlete at USF from 2013 to 2016 who later went to pursue a career in anchoring. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

Former Bull and news anchor Neena Pacholke suddenly died on Aug. 27, breaking the hearts of many in the USF community. She was 27.

The news broke late Sunday night on Twitter by the station she once anchored for, News 9 WAOW in Wisconsin. She died by suicide.

Pacholke was on the women’s basketball team from 2013 to 2016, playing as a guard for South Florida. In her time at USF, it was apparent that she was adored by many.

Baseball coach Billy Mohl tweeted on Monday afternoon to share his memories of the kind of person Pacholke was when she was at USF.

For basketball coach Jose Fernandez, even talking about her was an emotional feat.

“She was a wonderful soul, she was engaged, about to be married and …. I can’t,” Fernandez said in a Tuesday press conference.

Her death was unexpected to many with what her life seemed like to others, and all the details of her death are not known at the moment.

Fernandez described her as a resilient person despite the adversities she has faced in her life.

“She lost her high school sweetheart, Jordan, to brain cancer and then everything her mom has gone through herself, so she has always been a fighter and a warrior,” Fernandez said. “That’s why something like this is so surprising. She’s overcome so much hurt and tragedy so everyone is trying to find answers.

“This has been a tough couple days.”