February 16, 2010

What everybody does on bus rides

When I was in the beginning stages of this blog entry, I was having a lot of trouble figuring out what to write about. In my writer’s block, I looked around the bus (we were headed to Pullman from Spokane), desperate to find someone to give me a good idea.

From my spot on the left side, third row from the back of the bus, I have Jayne and Jeanette to my right, Mel and Kayla behind me, Hannah immediately in front, and Ros diagonal.

I glance into the front seat and Hannah rocking out to Jack Johnson (or love songs that make her think of me, so she says…), attentively reading “Sustainable Fossil Fuels,” a book for her Earth Systems 101 class. I tap her on the shoulder and pose my question. Her response? “Figure out what each person’s animal spirit is and write about that!” Thanks, Hannah, but I think I’ll leave that one for you.

I look diagonally at Ros. She appears to be napping, but her music is deafening, telling everyone in a 5-foot radius what she is listening to. If you ever forget your headphones, just sit near Ros and hope that she is listening to something you want to listen to. Every once in a while she will peek around, looking for someone to give her attention. I give her a wink and go back to my blog.

Continuing with the trend, I keep looking to the front of the bus for someone to give me an idea. Grace, as always, is on her phone, “listening to music,” so she claims. She could be lip-syncing to some song, or quietly talking on the phone, and you would never know the difference. In case it’s the latter, I keep up with my search.

The next few rows prove futile, as Ashley, Lindy, Nneka, Michelle and Boothe all appear to be either sleeping or deep in thought, gazing at the beautiful foothills of Spokane/Pullman (clearly that was a joke).

The freshmen are being freshmen, skyping with each other as they sit across the row. Every once in a while we get a bus with wireless internet, and thanks to the wonders of built-in video chatting capabilities (didn’t have that when I was their age!), they are having some conversation that they could easily have if they just turn their heads 90 degrees.

The staff and coaches are at the front of the bus (they clearly never got the memo that the cool kids sit in the back!) They are watching video, trying to pick up on any last-minute details they haven’t caught in the previous 27 viewings of the same video. Hand it to them though, we are always very, VERY prepared for each team that we play.

I feel a little nervous asking Amy for a blog topic, as she would probably tell me that I should have written it two weeks in advance, instead of the day it was due. “Better to be 10 minutes early than 1 minute late!"

Devan would probably just suggest something about researching new weight lifting techniques. That man is always reading about the newest anything related to strength and conditioning. It makes it a little tough to challenge him, as he can just show you some paper by the top expert and say, “Do it, ya jackal!”

I suddenly realize that I didn’t even ask the people immediately next to me. Mel and Kayla are either napping or listening to music, or multitasking and doing both, so I look over at Jayne and Jeanette. Both have their headphones in, with Jeanette sprawled out taking a power nap and Jayne on her computer, pink nails rapidly typing on the keyboard.

“Jayne!” I yell at her over the music coming from her iPod. She takes out her ear bud, annoyed, giving me her half-divided attention. More than likely she was listening to The Ting Tings “That’s Not My Name,” because in the song it says her name, and she’ll respond, “that is my name!”. I ask her for her opinion on what to write my blog entry on. “Why don’t you just write about what everybody does on bus rides?” Great idea!


February 10, 2010

What does it mean to put on the Stanford uniform?

The answer to this question rang loud and clear this past weekend as the Stanford women’s basketball program celebrated the 20 year anniversary of the 1990 National Championship team; the program’s first in Stanford’s history.

Of course all of us current players have given thought to this question, understanding that high expectations are the norm when it comes to being a member of this team. But sometimes it seems we become complacent to the persona that is exemplified when we wear this particular jersey. It goes beyond the name, the records, and the trophies--it embodies a dream, and we were fortunate enough to share that with the players and staff that turned that dream into a reality.

This past Saturday evening, a special banquet was organized to commemorate the players and staff of the 1990 championship team and the success they achieved. It was a joy to listen to the memories these players had shared together such as running the infamous 2 mile test, crashing their bikes while riding around campus, and uttering a few laughs over the “in” hairstyles of the time. It was a humbling experience to more fully realize that these players, who many of us have idolized while growing up, were just like us.

However, during that time, the name on the jersey wasn’t quite the bulls-eye that it is for us today; but it didn’t take long for that to change. “I want you to see my vision…..we will have sell out crowds in Maples, and win the National Championship by your senior year.” These were the words coach Tara expressed to then freshman guard Jennifer Azzi, and just like that, the dream was born.

Taking hard work, sportsmanship, and excellence to a whole new level, this group of young women brought to life the dream of becoming a champion, and set the standard for what it meant to “put on” the Stanford uniform. It started as a dream, and as the success accumulated, it grew into an expectation—one that has produced not only championship players, but championship people.

We now wear the Stanford uniform with pride and dignity as we strive to follow those who set the tone before us. Getting to wear the Stanford name on my jersey day in, and day out, has been a tremendous blessing. But even more than that, it has been a dream come true.


February 8, 2010

The Greatest Athlete

In honor of Roger Federer’s 16th major title at the Australian Open, I’ve decided to write my blog on why he is indubitably the greatest tennis player and even greatest athlete to have ever walked the Earth.

Proving that Roger is the greatest tennis player ever is a rather easy task. His stats are indisputable. He’s won 16 major titles, more than any man to ever play the game, and he still has a few more in him. He has completed the career grand slam (won all four majors throughout his career). He’s been ranked #1 in the world the most consecutive weeks, and the most total weeks. He’s been to 23 straight major semifinals, which is the longest streak by far. He has completely dominated the game of tennis for the past 5 years running. I know people might think there are certain tennis legends that were better than Roger in their day, but this statement is heinous. Rod Laver is a man who won 11 majors, back-to-back grand slams, and could have won more majors but he decided to turn pro and could no longer compete in the majors (the rules have since changed and pros play in the majors). Rod Laver was a formidable tennis player but the reason he wasn’t the best was because he didn’t have the same competition as Roger. In Laver’s day the good tennis players turned pro and didn’t compete with amateurs in the majors, so it was easy for Laver to dominate players with a lower caliber of talent. I’d be willing to bet that if pros were allowed to compete in the majors back in Laver’s day, there’s no way he would have won 2 consecutive grand slams, because he would have played much better competition. This unequivocally proves that Roger is better than Laver. Another argument for best tennis player ever is Pete Sampras, and I think since Roger has broken all of Pete’s records and was able to complete the career grand slam while Pete was unable to, it pretty much validates Roger's superiority.

Proving that Roger is the greatest athlete of all time is slightly harder only because comparing different sports can be a difficult thing to do. It wouldn’t be fair to compare team sports with individual sports because it’s harder to win individual titles than it is to win team titles. For example, I don’t think anyone would argue that Robert Horry is the greatest basketball player of all time or is even remotely close to the greatest, yet Horry has at least 4 and maybe even 5 NBA Championship rings which is infinitely more that Lebron James has and is more than some of the greatest players in the NBA’s history have. (In case anyone cares, I think Michael Jordan in the greatest player in NBA history.) This goes to show that in a team sport you don’t have to be great to win, you just have to be on a great team. So the greatest athlete of all time has to be someone who plays an individual sport. Now that that’s settled, the greatest individual athletes that I think are apart of the argument besides Roger Federer (obviously #1) are Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Michael Phelps. Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus play the same sport, so I must first decide who is better at their sport. Jack Nicklaus has more majors than Tiger, but I’m certain that Tiger will pass Jack up soonish and that leads me to presume that Tiger is or eventually will be the better golfer. So between Roger and Tiger, who is the better athlete? (And I guess what I mean by greatest athlete of all time is really most dominant athlete of all time.) Tiger has won many majors and will one day break Nicklaus’s record, but he hasn’t dominated golf as much as roger has dominated tennis. The 23 consecutive semifinal appearances that Roger has made in majors are equivalent to 23 top 5 finishes in majors in golf (in my mind at least). Now I don’t know for certain, but I’m pretty positive Tiger hasn’t had 23 consecutive top 5 finishes in majors. This fact rules him out for greatest athlete of all time, and for people who believe Nicklaus is better than Tiger, I don’t think Nicklaus did that either. Now, Michael Phelps, he won 8 gold medals in one Olympics, which is unheard of. The reason Roger is still a more dominant athlete than Phelps even though Roger only has 1 gold medal (doubles title in Beijing) is because what Roger has done is sustained greatness and what Michael Phelps did was a flash of greatness. Also, I feel like the greatest athlete of all time can’t be a swimmer cuz it’s not really a sport it’s just events. I think that Michael Phelps is a great athlete and what he did was amazing but I think what Roger continues to do is even more amazing but I can’t really express why in words I feel like it’s just a common sense thing. Michael Phelps had an amazing showing at one Olympics, and Roger has been doing it for such a long time. I think Michael Phelps could be in the question if he could win medals in his 5th or 6th Olympics (kind of like Dara Torres). Also perhaps Phelps could be in the running if he were to win a gold medal as a father, similar to how Roger just won his first major as a father at the Australian Open.

There are 2 more things that I need to quickly address in this last paragraph and then I’ll be done because I realize that this blog is becoming extremely long. First, why aren’t any women in the question for greatest athlete? Roger hasn’t won as many majors as Chris Evert or Martina Navratilova (both with 18), but I think he will pass them, possibly even this year. I think the reason I can’t say a woman is a better athlete than a man is because men and women are different and can’t be compared like that; men are stronger and faster than women so they have to be more athletic than women. I don’t know who is the greatest female athlete of all time, but I think the greatest female athlete of all time is just as impressive as the greatest athlete of all time. Finally, why is Roger Federer so important? I don’t think the world as a whole can really fathom how amazing Roger’s accomplishments truly are. I love Roger Federer not because of all of his accomplishments or the fact that he is extremely good looking (contrary to what some of my teammates might think), but because he is a hero for people all over the world. He has accomplished more than any other tennis player in the world and he doesn’t really have anymore records to chase and break, but he still trains as hard as he can everyday and is just as hungry to win as he was when he first started playing tennis. This is evident because last year when he lost the Australian Open to Raphael Nadal he cried because he worked so hard but couldn’t quite come through with the win (even though he already had 13 major titles). Roger is also a virtuous man. He has never been involved in any scandals in the media and from what I can tell he handles being a public icon incredibly well. Roger Federer lives the dream, he has a happy family with his wife and twin daughters, he loves his job and works hard at it day in and out, and he is a role model for people all over the world. Roger Federer is the greatest athlete of all time. (PERIOD)