On Sunday, February 7th after a home game vs. USC, Stanford Women's Basketball celebrated the 20-Year anniversary of the 1990 NCAA National Championship team. As a product of that phenomenal and special team, I wanted to share my thoughts on what this team has meant to me.
1990 - 2010. Twenty Years, One Story.
As much as Tara talked about them - all the admiration and respect that she had for them- I couldn’t help but be motivated by the 1990 NCAA Champion Stanford Cardinal. It got to the point where I felt like I had won the championship. I felt that pride…and I felt that responsibility.
The 1990 team set a standard that exceeded any I had met before, but in retrospect it was a good thing – a great thing. In fact, after three years of coming up short of the Final Four during my career at Stanford, it got to the point where the only thing I had to inspire myself and my teammates was the 1990 team. I knew that we could do it, because they did it. They gave us a blueprint for how to succeed. It was comforting to know that there was a way…we just had to do it the way they did - and we did.
While our 2008 Final Four team didn’t win the National Championship, I can sit here today and say that it doesn't really matter because our team played and competed that season the right way - the Stanford way: we worked hard, we were unselfish, and we played with passion for the game and for each other. The 1990 team has forever impacted our lives because they established the Stanford way. We finally achieved our team goal of going to the Final Four in Tampa Bay because we did it the way the 1990 team did it. This understanding of and commitment to the Stanford way is what makes the Stanford experience so special and bonds every woman who has worn the Cardinal uniform – it’s what makes us all winners.
The biggest impact the 1990 team has had on me, however, goes far beyond basketball and extends to my development as a woman transitioning to life after Stanford. Since my time on The Farm, I've had the opportunity to meet several players and coaches from that team and develop bonds that have changed the course of my life.
Twenty years after she led Stanford to its first National Championship, Jennifer Azzi is still my role model. And I'm not playing at Stanford anymore! How can that be? Because she has taught me the importance of applying the same values you have on the basketball court to whatever you do in life. Thank you, Jennifer!
Angela Taylor is an icon to me. I couldn't have made it through my first year in the WNBA without her constant support and her unique ability to help me understand and see what I couldn't - that life and basketball aren't that different and that you can always make an impact if you let your passion take over. Thank you, Angela!
I had the opportunity to meet Katy Steding when she was an assistant coach for the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA. In true Stanford fashion, we immediately connected because she was so encouraging and kind. I knew that even though we were on different teams that night, we were always going to be on the same team - truly special. Thank you, Katy!
Even the coaches of this historical squad have impacted my life. Julie Plank was my 2008 assistant coach for the Minnesota Lynx during my rookie year. Julie made going to practice fun and she helped make the transition from college to the pros easier than I thought possible. I love Julie with all my heart. She restored my faith that Stanford and the WNBA don’t have to be two exclusive experiences. Thank you, Julie!
Renee Brown is supposed to be my "boss.” But she's not - she's my friend. I remember coming back from Beijing in 2008 for the pre-Olympic "Good Luck" tournament, and during our downtime in the Beijing airport, we spent hours reminiscing about our respective Stanford experiences. Even though they took place during different decades, they were the same sentiments – a connection was born. Renee is a tremendous mentor for me, and I thank her for making sure that I always keep the “Stanford Spirit” alive in my career as a professional athlete. Thank you, Renee!
Of course I could never leave out Amy Tucker. I’m not sure what Amy was like circa 1990, but she has been there from day one. I wonder how many 2-mile runs she's witnessed? She literally helped me achieve my best 2-mile time by participating in the test one year - I still remember the last 200m, seeing her right behind me, and thinking, "Can’t let Amy beat me…Can’t let Amy beat me!!” I then proceeded to an all-out sprint for my record 2-mile time. She has connected us all through her dry sense of humor and her amazing ability of simply being "Amy.” Thank you, Amy!
To all the members of the 1990 team whom I haven't met yet - Molly Goodenbour, Sonja Henning, Chris MacMurdo, Stacy Parson, Martha Richards, Trisha Stevens, Val Whiting, and Julie Zielstra - I look forward to the day when we do meet, and I know we'll have many great things to share. Thank you for what you have done for Stanford Women's
And to Tara - look at the program you've created...I think that speaks for itself. You and the 1990 team are synonymous with the Stanford way. Thank you, Tara!
I wish I could be there to celebrate this anniversary, but I know that I will be there in spirit. I am a part of this 1990 team...because we all are part of the same one story. That is something I will forever hold close to my heart. Thank you for changing the course of Stanford Basketball and for changing our lives! Thank you 1990 NCAA Champions!!!