Aggie wives
From left to right: Jennie Newbold, Jamelah Williams, Jenna Jardine and Melinda Bendall cheer on their husbands, all of whom play for the Utah State men's basketball team.

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There is a saying that behind every good man, there is a good woman.

Several members of the Utah State men's basketball team would not argue that. In fact, they would endorse it.

Four Aggies on the current team are married, and each has expressed how "blessed" they are to have a wife. Seniors Pooh Williams, Nate Bendall and Tyler Newbold and junior Brady Jardine have significant others.

While those four have gained plenty of notoriety playing basketball at USU, each has given credit to their supportive wives. Williams and Bendall are married to former college basketball players, while Jardine's wife played collegiate volleyball. That has helped in understanding what their husbands are going through.

"Yeah, we talk about basketball, probably more then any other couple would, but basketball is basketball and then we have our lives too," said Melinda Bendall, who played collegiately at BYU and coached high school girls basketball for three years. "I've watched basketball my whole life growing up, watched my brothers play at Utah, then I went to BYU, got to coach and now I'm the cheerleader. I've had all different aspects of the game, so I feel like we can talk and enjoy it.

"When he comes home after a bad game, I can smile and laugh and he knows I understand. We have a lot of fun with it, try to keep it light hearted."

There are times Melinda could be critical, but has learned that doesn't help. Jamelah Williams said it is natural for any athlete to critique the play of another. However, when it involves a spouse, one must know how they react. The former Aggie women's basketball player has learned that Pooh needs some time.

"Sometimes he might get mad at me after the games, because I'm like, ‘you did good, but you could have done better at this or that,'" Jamelah said. "He is like, ‘give me an hour.'"

Jennie Newbold and Jenna Jardine don't have to worry about that aspect. Jenna admitted to not know a lot about the game of basketball. However, both do like the sport.

"We talk about basketball a lot," Jennie said. "I'm really into basketball. I was before Tyler and I met. It's kind of normal for us to talk about basketball, the standings, what his stats are. He doesn't talk to me about how he is excited. I try and pull that out of him. I try and make his head a little bigger, even though he doesn't show it. ... Basketball is a big part of our lives and we both love it."

"I know Melinda and Pooh's wife have played basketball, so they know a lot more than I do," Jenna said. "I'm kind of clueless, but we talk basketball a little."

While she may not understand the game to its fullest, Jenna does feel the enthusiasm of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. All four wives commented on how special it is to watch games in the arena.

"I just love the Spectrum," Jenna said. "It gives me chills, especially when they do the "I believe" chant and "Winning team, losing team." We really love Utah State and especially the students. Home games in the Spectrum are probably one the funnest things for us."

Jenna, Jamelah and Melinda all sit in the players' family area on the south side by the tunnel opposing teams enter and exit the floor. Jennie, however, joins the Aggie students by standing in line and rushing in to get a front row seat in section K.

"It was fun before, when I didn't know any of the players, but now since I'm married to Tyler, it's a way different experience," Jennie said. "I get way tense and kind of freak out. Coaches have told me it's funny to watch my face when calls are made, because I just freak out. I have a lot of fun. I think I have more emotion during the game sometimes than Tyler does."

Newbold is not know for showing too much emotion on the floor.

"I think I take care of that for him," Jennie said. "... I'm screaming with everybody else."

Jamelah has played in the Spectrum for the Aggies. But being a fan is a totally different experience.

"It's fun, it's nothing like playing," Jamelah said. "It's totally different playing compared to watching, especially between the girls games and guys. It's louder. The emotions and adrenaline are going a lot more. ... Half of the time I'm nervous. I just want him to do so good all the time."

For Melinda, this is her first year of being a regular in the Spectrum. BYU never played USU in Logan during her playing days, so her experience has been cheering for her husband.

"It's been so much fun, especially when your husband is out there playing, changes the game a whole lot," Melinda said. "The atmosphere of the Spectrum is unreal. I've been to some pretty intense games in my life, and the Spectrum is definitely up there as one of the top places. The atmosphere, the students, such a crazy place, it's been so much fun to get a little taste of that this year."

Melinda joked about being a cheerleader, but she was seen jumping out her seat recently when Nate threw down a dunk.

"I had to stand up for that," Melinda said. "I tease him about it all the time. My brothers played and give him a hard time, when are you going to throw one down Bendall. I was happy for him. People realize what he is dealing with his feet, so I was excited he got his dunk."

Health issues are a concern for the wives. Melinda worries more than she thought she would. The others agreed.

"You want them to stay healthy and do well," Jamelah said. "Every time he touches the ball, you want him to make the right choice."

One of the toughest times for the wives is when the Aggies go on the road. The team is gone anywhere from two to five nights at a time.

"Oh my gosh, it's awful," said Jennie, who married Tyler last summer. "I really don't like it. I do know he is having so much fun. It would be a different story if I didn't think he was having so much fun. He loves it. He can spend time with his guys."

Jennie does not spend the time alone. Her sisters spend time with her, as well as a sister-in-law. The four wives also get together to watch road games when they are on television or on the internet.

"It gets tough sometimes," said Jamelah, who will be married two years in July. "I already know it's going to happen, so I kind of prepare myself for it. There are some other basketball wives, so we will get together on game nights and watch the game. We keep each other company for the most part."

"That's definitely the worst part of being a basketball wife," said Jenna, who had her first anniversary with Brady last October. "It's definitely a love-hate relationship. I hate the part when he leaves for one of those two-road-game trips and will be gone for five days in a row. ... Everything has good parts and bad parts."

Melinda remembers her playing days, so she encourages Nate to enjoy it to the fullest before it is over. Still, it is not easy for her either.

"Being a newlywed, it's hard," said Melinda, as her and Nate were married last August. "I give him a hard time about how we got married to be together, but I get it. I know how it works when they go on road. I tell Nate all the time, I wish I could go back (to playing) in a heartbeat."

All four work to help support their households. Jamelah works at Jimmy John's, Melinda at Advent Creative in downtown Logan, Jennie on the USU campus for the alumni department and Jenna at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.

"He (Pooh) always tells me how much he appreciates me working to help us out," Jamelah said. "He says it will pay off, you are not going to have to work for ever."

With all the success the Aggies have had the past decade in basketball, athletes are well known. Fans chant their names and enjoy mingling with them. Do any of the wives feel jealous or worry about some fans getting too friendly?

"No, not really," Jamelah said. "I feel like we all have our situations where some little girls go, ‘oh my gosh, can I have your autograph' and want pictures and stuff, but it comes with it. You have to learn to deal with it and of course trust is huge. If you don't have trust, it's kind of hard to be in a relationship. If you don't trust before you get married, you probably shouldn't get married."

"No, I'm not jealous at all," Jenna said. "That has a lot to do with Brady and the way he is. If there are girls or other people drooling all over these basketball guys, it makes me laugh more than anything. I know I don't have to worry about Brady. He's always really proud to say he's my husband. That's the first thing he tells people."

"He'll have random girls write on his Facebook wall," Jennie said of Tyler. "I'll be like he's married, he's taken now. Other than that, it's pretty simple."

Melinda said she is jealous of wishing she still had some eligibility and could play and added: "Nate is a pretty great guy, and it's not too much of a worry for me."

All four are enjoying being married to Aggies and will continue to cheer them on to another conference championship.

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