March 29, 2014

Excited to be back at Stanford

Here is Chiney's espnW blog about the excitement of a Sweet 16 at Stanford.

March 14, 2014

Get ready for 'N-E-R-D-S'

Here is Chiney's espnW blog, in which she celebrates the culture of Stanford.

A hungry team can be dangerous

Here is Chiney's espnW blog, in which she says that the loss to USC in the Pac-12 tournament was disappointing but that only makes Stanford more inspired for the NCAA tournament.

March 5, 2014

Seniors' Memorable Moments

From Alex:

I am dedicating my blog to our four wonderful seniors. I decided to ask them about their most memorable moments at Stanford.

Mikaela’s most memorable moment came in her freshman year at Stanford. While the NCAA tournament is always a great time for our team, that season’s elite eight was especially exciting. With only 4.4 seconds left on the shot clock, Jeannette Pohlen ran the ball from one end of the court to the other, scoring a layup and sending us to the Final Four.

Sara James told me that her favorite memory also happened her freshman year. It was December 30, 2011, a day I’m sure many Stanford fans remember. It was the day we beat UConn 71-59, breaking their 90-game winning streak. It was a great opportunity to defend Maples.

Chiney’s best memory so far at Stanford is a little more recent. We’ve all seen Chiney make amazing plays on the court, but her most memorable moment surrounds something unrelated to basketball—Nneka’s graduation. Chiney describes Nneka’s graduation as a beautiful moment for her family. In that moment she realized that never would she have imagined growing up that she would be playing the sport she loves at the best university. It was a surreal moment for her.

Toni’s favorite memory from Stanford happened just a couple months ago when she planned the Cal and Stanford We Are Pride event. She worked tirelessly for months to create a program about LGBT inclusion in sports. Being able to bring rival schools together was life changing for her. Witnessing Cal and Stanford athletes go from strangers to best friends in their photo project left her and the other organizers speechless. The event exceeded her wildest expectations and allowed her to put her passion into action to give back to the community.

We’re really going to miss our seniors. It’s been an exciting three years with these seniors and I’m sure that they will be a part of some of my most memorable moments at Stanford. I can’t wait to see what amazing things they do next.

March 3, 2014

A Tribute to the Seniors

Hey Stanford fans!

I thought that in light of the senior night festivities this week that I would write my blog in honor of the four lovely ladies who I can’t believe will be graduating soon. I feel so lucky and honored to have spent 3 years with them, and these will be some of the things that I miss the most:

SEJ: I cannot imagine how the team, the locker room, road trips, and life in general is going to be next year without her. She brings such a positive and fun presence to everything that we do as a team.

She is also one of my best friends and is the older sister I never had. Any time that I have been down or had a tough day, Sej has listened to me, talked me through it, and is always there to have my back.

Our team’s love for Sej is obvious in the sheer amount of nicknames we have given her including: Sejba, Sej-er-ama, Sejjie, and my own personal nickname for her, Stella. She in turn calls me Bridget. (It’s a long explanation behind those two names)

I also have to acknowledge how much her legendary singing will be missed when she is gone. She is known by some people as the next Mariah Carey, and she will always sing the entire song even if she has to mumble her way through any tricky lines. Our team’s favorite song for her to sing at the moment is “Do What U Want” by Lady Gaga.

We have shared many funny moments together, some of which include many people mistaking us for each other. Apparently, many people think that we look alike and are the same person, especially when we both wear our hair in a braid. It always makes us laugh, and we just go with it and pretend to be each other.

I’m going to miss her so much, and her humor and personality will be irreplaceable.

Mik: Our team calls her our 35 year old fifth year because she has been here so long! And thank goodness she has because I can’t imagine how life is going to be at Stanford without her here.

Mik is such a goofy and fun person to be around, and ever since my very first summer as a freshman, when she invited herself over to my dorm to watch Pretty Little Liars marathons with me while she worked on her complicated math and engineering psets, I knew that she was going to be a great friend.

We have spent many hours watching Grand Slam tennis championships together, each of us cheering on our favorite players. My favorite player is Rafael Nadal, while hers is Roger Federer, and we have had many friendly arguments over who is actually the best player ever.

Though we will never agree on that topic, we do share our taste in music. We both love Queen, Elton John, and Billy Joel. It’s always fun when we blast “Vienna” or “Benny and the Jets” in the locker and have a mini karaoke session.

I am going to miss her goofy and hilarious personality so much.

Chiney: There are so many things that I am going to miss about Chiney that I cannot possibly list them all here.

All of you know how valuable she is to our team on the court, but off the court, her bubbly and fun personality is going to be missed by us even more. It never fails to make me smile when I see say or do something that makes the whole team laugh.

One of my absolute favorite memories of Chiney is when she put together a barbeque for our team, and we were all hanging out by the pool. Chiney was walking around the edge of the pool and singing along to whatever song we had playing when she turned too early and stepped right into the water and fell in! We all immediately stopped what we were doing, and she came up laughing hard. Of course the rest of us couldn’t stop laughing either for some time. (I can’t stop laughing as I’m typing this just remembering it)

Chiney is one of the most loyal and caring friends I will ever have, and I am going to miss her so much.

Toni: I am so lucky to have gotten to play and become friends with Toni because she is the kind of person that genuinely cares about you and sincerely wants the best for you.

She is such a great role model to me, and she has shown me that it is completely acceptable to just be yourself. She exemplifies what it is to go to Stanford.

I love going to football games and looking out at the band and trying to pick out Toni among them. My favorite memory of her with the band was when she styled her hair into a giant purple Mohawk; needless to say it took a lot of hairspray and gel, but it looked awesome.

Our team loves Toni so much, and we know that it has been very hard for her not being able to play this year. However, you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at her because she continues to cheer for us, keeps us laughing and positive, consistently comes to practice every day, and always has a smile on her face.

Every time I look at Toni and see her dedication and love for our team, I am inspired to play harder and give my best effort in everything I do. I am so lucky to have met Toni and have her as a friend because you will not find a more creative, caring, and generous person out there, and I am going to miss her so much.

Until next time,

February 11, 2014

Mental Toughness

I often talk with Coach Kate one-on-one and she always has a lot of insight to offer me, whether it’s athletic or academic. One of the very first conversations I had with her was when I attended Stanford summer camp, before I decided if I actually wanted to attend Stanford. I asked Coach Kate what I would need to do in order to be successful at Stanford. I expected a tangible answer like, “Learn to do this dribble move, get up hundreds of shots each day, or study for X amount of hours each night,” but instead she gave me something so much more valuable. She told me that my success at Stanford would be contingent upon how well I dealt with adversity.

As Stanford student-athletes, we sometimes get lost in the seemingly never-ending routine of rigorous practices, strenuous academics, and highly competitive games. In my short amount of time at Stanford thus far, I, and most of my teammates, have dealt with many different types of adversity. Some of us have had injuries, most of us have had bad days at practice, and sometimes some of us don’t do as well as we would like on exams.

Add to that the other stressors that lie outside of the student athlete “bubble” and our challenges are even more impactful. Challenges that all 18-21-year-old college students go through, like arguing with your best friend, feeling homesick, or struggling to find a social niche. Most of us have learned that it’s not the adversity we encounter that matters, it’s how we respond to it that helps us grow.

Being mentally tough as a student-athlete means learning to give yourself positive “self-talk,” staying poised and focused under pressure, and always realizing that everything we experience is a necessary part of the learning process as we strive to achieve our goals.

This season has not been easy for any of us. We’ve had self-doubts and stumbling blocks, unexpected losses and unforeseen challenges, and many other normal issues to contend with as well. But this is a mentally tough team. We believe in ourselves. We understand that we are on this journey together, and that we all have the same goal in sight.

Together, we are building a strong foundation of mental toughness, team unity, and all-around grit that makes Stanford Womens Basketball a sisterhood and an amazingly courageous unit. As our team leader and fierce motivator Chiney likes to say, “We’re not the ‘Nice Girls’ from Stanford anymore!”


Disappointment can be a blessing

Here is Chiney's espnW blog.

February 1, 2014

Let Me Explain

Hello Everyone!

Now I know this is not the first blog that one of us has written about the topic of our team’s hair preferences and it might seem like a trivial topic. Nonetheless, there is more behind our hair choices than meets the eye. The reason I have actually chosen this topic is that I have received quite a few comments and questions behind my choice to switch from my giant ponytail to my new bun.

A lot of people have been against the switch because they say it makes it harder for them to identify me when I am out on the court. A few of my own family members have expressed their frustrations about the difficulties of locating me without the giant ponytail. Now I am not presuming that everyone is concerned with finding me out on the court, however, I am sorry to those that do not support my switch for whatever reason. It is something I felt I had to do and here are my reasons why.

Over the last two years my hair has grown so that it is much longer than it use to be. Actually, if I straighten my hair it goes well past the middle of my back. This of course makes my ponytail much longer, and when I play basketball it would constantly swing around and hit me in the face. It can be quite frustrating when you are sprinting for a fastbreak lay-up and your own hair is obstructing your view of the basket. Therefore, I felt the bun was necessary in order to rein in the giant ponytail and teach it who is boss. I am the one running the show here not you.

My second reason for trying out the bun this year is because I think it represents change, which is a common theme of this season. This year our team has many new players and a different energy as well. We are a different team all together than last year, and so I feel my bun is just going along with this pattern of change. We have a new team and so I am bringing out a new hairstyle to match.

My final reason for sticking with the new hairstyle is that my Grandpa is a huge supporter of the bun. On our recent trip to Arizona a few family members of mine were at the game, including my Grandpa. While some of my other family members were expressing how my less visible hair made me harder to distinguish, my Grandpa stepped in and said that he thought the bun was very “cute”. There you have it folks. If Grandpa thinks the bun is cute, well then the bun is here to stay, because I trust my Grandpa’s opinion on hairstyles 100%. So now you all can see that even though my hair is not as large and noticeable there is more to my confined bun than meets the eye. I am not the only one who has a story behind my hair.

If you look at the progression of Taylor’s hair you can see that she has gone from ponytail, to bun, and now the braid this year. I cannot give you the full story why but her reasons are very similar to the frustrations I had with my ponytail before I switched to the bun.

As you all may know Bonnie has been consistent over the last three years with wearing her braid. However, what you all do not know is that there was a period where Bonnie struggled with braiding her own hair. She could do it but it wasn’t always the prettiest. Due to this struggle she found help from many different people on the team and staff to braid her hair for games. Today, I must admit that Bonnie has developed into an excellent braider but she still has Marcella, our trainer, braid her hair for games in order to keep the tradition alive.

So now you all see that hair is not as trivial a topic as you might have thought. In order to catch everyone’s hair in action out there on the court, or to test yourself and see if you are up to the challenge of spotting me without my notoriously big ponytail, come to one of our home games and cheer us on. We love it when the stadium is packed. Go Card!


January 28, 2014

The best locker room in the nation

Hello FBC Blog Readers!

What’s your favorite room?  Is it the kitchen, living room, or den?  One room at Stanford has become a very special place for me -- the Stanford Women’s Basketball locker room. 

Now, what’s so special about a room we use to don our uniforms and prepare for games?   Stanford’s locker room is like no other.  It is a safe haven, a place I can go to in order to escape.  It’s a great place!  I believe we have the best locker room in the nation! 

Our locker room is a place where I can study.  A Stanford student-athlete must stay focused on academics, and the locker room is an easy place to study and complete homework.  If you enter the locker room, you will probably find Tess with a laptop working on an essay, Mikaela pondering math problems, or Chiney wearing her earphones and typing away.  Amber and Alex will be using their iPads for assignments for their Communications courses.  Lili and Karlie, pencils in hand, will be working away on their latest assignment.  You can even catch Taylor and Erica Payne reading page after page for an upcoming exam.  Our locker room is a quiet and great place for study. 

Not only is our locker room a great place for study, but also it is a great place to have fun.  With a large boom box at hand, our locker room can quickly become a dance floor.  Erica McCall (Bird) usually provides the music as the entire team breaks out in dance to great beats.  I love watching Jas impersonate Shakira, Bonnie perform a Russian traditional dance, or Toni's original spin around dance.  Sej always bursts out with the vocals and does the best renditions of Lady Gaga’s latest hits!  My favorite moment is when Bird decides to crank out the bass guitar.  Within seconds, the locker room is filled with laughter!  Our locker room is not only a place for studies, but also a quick getaway spot for great times with the team.

Finally, the locker room is a great place for reflection.  Our locker room is filled with many inspirational quotes. Displayed on one of the walls is John Wooden’s famous “Triangle of Success” which helps each player understand what it will take to achieve our ultimate goal -- winning an NCAA championship! When we need to focus and prepare for our practice or games, the locker room is where you will find us most. 

Our locker room is the best locker room in the nation -- a place for escape, study, great times, and reflection, which fosters team bonding, camaraderie, and a sense of community. 


January 18, 2014

Amber talks about leadership

Hello Everyone,

For my blog I'd like to talk about the leadership of the seniors of our team, Chiney, Sara James, and Mikaela Ruef. Chosen as this year's captains, they not only have the most experience but also display the essential qualities of leadership that guide the rest of us in the right direction, just as the seniors before them did and the seniors before that.

All three of our seniors lead us both on and off the court and help us push through the problems we encounter as a team.

Sej is one of the hardest working people on the team. She's always one of the first people on the floor before practice and before games. She competes hard and is a physical player who is willing to put her body on the line and leave her best effort on the court. Whether it is diving for a loose ball, crashing the glass for rebounds, sprinting her lane, or being vocal in practice, Sej's intensity is always at 110%. Whenever we prepare to play another team, I'm sure that I'm not the only one who feels sorry for the opposing player who has to guard and be guarded by Sej. If there's anything I should hope to take from Sara, it is to be as tough as her.

Mikaela is definitely one of smartest players on the team (if you need someone to read over a paper for a class for you, Mik is undoubtedly the person to ask). A core member of our team today, I've witnessed Mik's growth from serving more of a role to becoming an indispensable component of our gameplan both offensively and defensively. We count on Mik everyday to hit open shots, play great defense, rebound, and be aggressive. Additionally, Mik is a great passer, from which the rest of us benefit. Mik is a problem solver- if something isn't working, it is absolute that she will devise and share ways that we can find solutions.

Finally, there aren't enough words to describe what Chiney does for and means to this team. The all-time PAC-12 leader in rebounding, Chiney plays with a ferocity and passion matched by none. You can see it in her eyes. From increasing her scoring after Nneka graduated to improving her outside shooting, Chiney has always stepped up in all the right ways, helping lead her team to success. I feel privileged to play with a player of her caliber and call her a teammate, friend, and sister.

I'd also like to take the time to acknowledge another one of our seniors,Toni Kokenis. Although she's no longer playing with us this year, Toni was one of my favorite teammates to play with. She could shoot, drive, was our team's best perimeter defender, and was incredibly fast both with and without the ball. Helpful both during practices and on the sideline during games, we all appreciate what Toni has done for Stanford basketball.

As I reflect on my freshman experience, a time where I was often overwhelmed and sometimes lost in the transition to college basketball and to college life, I can't help but think about the seniors that assisted me in adjusting to such a large change. Lindy La Rocque, Nneka Ogwumike, Sarah Boothe, and Grace Mashore all impacted me in ways that I could never forget, and although our time was short together, I still fondly think about the great memories we shared together and appreciate everything they did for me.

Time has flown, as it seems that I was just a freshman not long ago. As I look forward to my senior season with the rest of my class, I hope to carry out and build on the legacy of being a leader here at Stanford.