March 23, 2008

I hate the pad!

Wow, what a whirlwind since the first time I set foot back on the Farm since graduating in 1996. I never thought I would be back here at Stanford as an assistant coach working alongside Tara, Amy, and Kate. I love it. This has truly been a blessing in disguise. However, working with the players has been the most special part of my time here. It has always been about the players for me regardless of the school or conference. Of all the places I have worked Stanford by far has the most talent. Candice, Jayne, Kayla, Ros, JJ, Jill, Jeanette, Morgan, Cissy, Hannah, Ashley, Mel, and Michelle have all individually and collectively put a smile on my face throughout the season.

Because I work on the post end with Amy I have had the opportunity to play defense against Jayne, Kayla, Morgan, and Ashley. Now I am 35 years young and not as energetic as I use to be. All of the posts are obviously stronger than me to say the least.

I found this out the first time Tara yelled, “B, get the pad!” Those are the most dreaded words I hear each day. “B, get that pad!” I hate the pad. It is an instrument of the devil. When the girls hear Tara yell for “the pad” they lick their chops. You would think I would love “the pad” but I hate it. One day Jayne lifted me off the floor with “the pad.”

This has been a wonderful season. I would like to think that “the pad” has had a lot to do with it but nothing short of a national championship will change my mind about it. I hate that @*%# pad!!!

This blog serves as my official boycott of the pad. Thank you for your support!

Bobbie Kelsey

March 19, 2008

The best cheer leader

Finals Week isn’t usually the best time to look forward to for us student-athletes, but what it also means is it's time to gear up for March Madness!

We came off an outstanding performance in the Pac-10 tournament (obviously bringing home the gold), and we are rolling towards the post-season. Everyone has been playing really well, and it’s been a blast getting to cheer the team on in our run towards the final four! I have great expectations for our team as we head into the NCAA tournament. It has been a great learning experience to watch everything unfold from the sidelines. Especially now that NCAAs are approaching quickly, I’m able to observe all the things that you seem to miss when you are absorbed in the atmosphere of March Madness. I’m so excited for our team, because I know we have the potential to cut down those nets!

Now that the brackets are final, we’re gearing up for our first game this Saturday! The team is confident about the position we’re in, and everyone seems determined to accomplish what we’ve been striving for since the off-season.

But we would never look beyond one game at a time in this journey. So, it’s about taking care of business this Saturday before even thinking about what comes next.

Even more importantly, it’s about improving our play and concentrating on turning our weaknesses into strengths. And the most important of all is enjoying the opportunity we have to be playing together as a team and as a family.

Although it’s difficult to be sitting the sidelines during this exciting time of the season, I know that I can still contribute to our success by being the best cheer leader for our team! There might be some fans that would want to challenge me on that, but I doubt anyone could take that title away.

We thank everyone for their continual support for our team and program!

Come out and enjoy a great tournament, and GO CARD!!!

Michelle Harrison

March 14, 2008

The Greatest Year EVER ...

Ok so initially I was going to discuss the reasons why I think San Diego is the greatest city in the country with substantial evidence to support every claim I made. I have a lot of friends on the east coast who have this crazy idea that the entire left side of the country doesn’t exist, or isn’t important (I know! Crazy right?) For all of us who have the great privilege and luxury of living in this beautiful state, and for the even more fortunate ones who can call Southern California home, it has to be redundant to hear me talk about the many reasons why San Diego is so amazing …

So I decided to instead go into detail about what a wonderful senior year I’m having! (I don’t want to start any controversy and have it turn into catastrophic warfare.)

I got the most touching letter from Susan King Borchardt a few days ago, and it made me start thinking about the last four years of my life at Stanford. She said that no matter how old I got, I would always be “her freshman”. It seems like yesterday Susan and I were racing each other around the track or playing in the sweet 16 against Connecticut. The crazy part is, when I was a freshman I never thought about what it would feel like to be a senior. It’s something that you aren’t able to fathom until the moment arrives, and for me this feeling has made me cherish every single moment of every day with my teammates and coaches.

This year has been so special, and from the very beginning of the year I saw something in my teammates that I hadn’t seen in my four years at Stanford: Youth. I, at the time a 20 year old, was the second oldest player on the team! The youthful energy of my teammates just took over the team in a really good way, and when you carry that type of fearless mentality around, you meet no challenge that you cannot face. And I believe that is what has made our team so successful this year. I just want to take time to reflect on a few moments in games that have really made this year stand out…

This was a very special win and experience for the team. Although it was early in the season, we knew we had a lot to prove to the rest of the world and we did. And Kayla made herself a household name in the process! This definitely was what jump-started our season and let us know that this team had something in them.

No one really talks about this game, but seriously this might have been the most exciting win of the season! We were down like six points with under a minute left and came back in two overtimes and won. This game completely belonged to Mel. She gets a steal, converts on a pull up to get us within two, and then after they make one of two free throws she has the ball to run a three-point play for me. When I wasn’t open she took matters in her own hands and shot the three and it went in!!! We go into overtime. It also happened to be her first made three-pointer of her career, which makes me so incredibly proud. Unfortunately she has been out since the Virgin Islands with an ACL tear, but its clear that Mel has made a lasting impact on the season with her heroic antics in Utah.

Another game that doesn’t get discussed, but was soooooo fun! First, it was really cool for me and Jayne to play against Dawn Staley, who coached us this summer and is someone I look up to in so many ways. The game didn’t feel like it was too out of control, and we always kind of felt like we were fine. We were down, but it didn’t feel like that much. Until I look up at the scoreboard after they score and it shows we’re down 19!!! We go into halftime with a 17-point deficit. The amazing thing? Nobody panicked. Nobody was upset; the locker room at halftime was filled with encouragement. We could have easily given up, felt overwhelmed at the probability of coming back, but we stuck together and we had so much trust that we were going to make it through together. The result? A 17-0 run to begin the second half, we ended up winning the game by nine. That was the day I realized that this is not some ordinary team. To me, that win in the Virgin Islands planted the seeds for this year, which has been nothing short of amazing.

Maybe I am getting older, but what I love most about this team is that they keep me young.

Thank you to my teammates, my wonderful coaches, and most importantly the fans!!!!!!!

Candice Wiggins

March 13, 2008

Preparing for the NCAA Tournament

Now that the Pac 10 Tournament Tournament is over (PAC 10 CHAMPIONS!!!) you may wonder what we are doing. Like many of you who came to the games this weekend at HP and supported us so enthusiastically, our team and staff is tired. Playing (or cheering for) three games in three days is very demanding both physically, mentally and emotionally. I am extremely proud of our team for their outstanding effort this past weekend. Our players had a well deserved day off and all were busy writing papers and studying for upcoming exams. We did not practice Tuesday, but like you the coaches had work to do so we all were in the office to visit with a recruit visiting unofficially and to catch up on things.

Today we are on our regular schedule which means the coaches meet at 1pm to watch video, plan practice, go over upcoming recruiting trips and prepare for the NCAA Tournament. Our team will have a light practice today which will include going over our goal sheet (something we do after every game), watching our game Hi Lites from the Cal Championship game and talking about the beginning of the "third" and most important season!

We divide our season into 3 parts. Our preseason, conference season and post season. Our team has had both a fabulous preseason and conference season and now is the most exciting and fun part -- the NCAA Tournament. At this time of year my job is to focus on doing everything to give our team the best chance of being successful in the NCAA. The keys to our team making a long tournament run are 1) being healthy, 2) being well rested, 3) continuing to improve, 4) playing confidently, 5) preparing for all but playing one game at a time!!!

We are going to the NCAA, and our team is VERY excited about that opportunity. We will all be watching ESPN (ESPN will be here on campus showing our team's reaction!) and we can't wait to see who we will be playing.

We know three things. We are playing at Stanford, WE ARE READY and YOU will be LOUD!!!

Thank you all for your terrific support of our team and program. ENJOY

Tara Vanderveer