February 25, 2010

Stanford’s seniors – More than a touch of class (Part 2)

(Continued from Part 1)

After watching the Stanford women’s basketball team defeat Oregon State 82-48 and celebrating Senior Night at Maples Pavilion on Feb. 20, fans continued their homage to the seniors at a packed Dallmar Court.

It was another chance to savor the five seniors’ last regular season game at Maples (two more games are surely in the offing for the first round of the NCAA tournament at Maples in March) and to hear more from the players, their families, their coaches and teammates.

In the spotlight were center Jayne Appel, forward Michelle Harrison and guards JJ Hones and Melanie Murphy, along with fifth-year senior guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude.

Joe Appel, Jayne’s father, talked about her process of choosing a college. “We traveled all around the country,” he said. At one time, both associate head coach Amy Tucker, who coordinates Cardinal recruiting, and another well-known head coach were in the stands as Jayne was playing. "Amy was watching Jayne, but the other coach was on the phone,” he said. That’s one reason why Jayne chose Stanford. Since then, “I’ve had the best fun watching you watching Jayne,” her mother, Pam, said to the fans. Two of Jayne’s three brothers also were at Senior Night.

Mel’s mother, Rochelle, thanked everyone who looked after Mel. “I really appreciated that you looked out for her when I couldn’t,” said the Brooklyn resident.

She also revealed the secret of motivating Mel. When Mel was in second grade, she didn’t want to work on multiplication tables until her teacher set up a multiplication competition in which the prize was a cookie. Mel won the cookie. “If you want Melanie to do anything, have her compete for a cookie,” Rochelle Murphy said.

Guard Jeanette Pohlen related a freshman-year experience with Mel, who was a sophomore. Because Mel had torn an ACL, she was driving a golf cart around campus and became a chauffeur for the freshmen, who can’t have cars. “We would go for an adventure every night,” Jeanette said, citing Cold Stone Creamery and Stanford Shopping Center as destinations.

One rainy night, Mel was trying to maneuver between the numerous posts along Stanford pathways as Jeanette held her bicycle on the side of the cart. With the tight fit between posts, the bike wound up very much the worse for wear, but “it was a great experience to start off my freshman year,” Jeanette said.

“I feel like I knew Ros before she was born,” head coach Tara VanDerveer said, noting that she and Ros’s mother, Pat Gold, were roommates for a while in college.

Pat Gold and Ros’s father, Austin Onwude, weren’t able to attend the game, but they were represented by Rich and Nancy Lobell, whom Ros considers her California parents. Ros credited her mother with introducing her to basketball when she was 4 years old. Over the years, she also made many personal sacrifices so that Ros could stay with basketball. It was she who brought Ros to the attention of Stanford coaches. “Basketball has been a blessing for me,” Ros said. As for her teammates, “They’re more than teammates. They’re my friends,” she said, adding that the coaches have been most helpful during her five years at Stanford.

During Michelle’s freshman year in high school, Stanford was the first school to send her a recruiting letter. Stanford wasn’t on the Utah resident’s radar screen at the time, but her mother, Judi Harrison, urged her to consider the possibility. “You guys make it worth it,” Michelle said to her teammates. “My family has been my strongest support,” she added. Michelle’s two older sisters also were at the event. One of them, Kara, was her AAU coach.

Like Mel and her classmates, JJ thanked the coaches for all they had done for her and the team. Her father, Dan, spoke of the “tremendous sense of pride” he felt to be sitting with the seniors and their families. “This sport has brought our family closer together,” he said. With him were JJ’s mother, Susan, JJ’s sister, Kelsey, who plays volleyball at the University of Oregon, and an aunt. The Hones family lives in Oregon.

Jayne credited her parents for helping her get through the recruiting process. She also credited her teammates for the hard work that has helped make the team so successful. She singled out sophomore center Sarah Boothe, who hasn’t played this season after undergoing foot surgery. Sarah has been practicing, however, and “has been working her tail off every day,” Jayne said.

Tara noted that Jayne had just joined exclusive 2,000/1,000 Stanford club after surpassing 2,000 career points in the game that night. Jayne had already snared more than 1,000 rebounds. With her in this club are Val Whiting, ’93, and Nicole Powell, ’04. “Jayne in her way makes everyone better. She is unstoppable. (And) as great a player as she is, she’s a better person,” Tara said.

She had similar praise for all of the honorees and thanked them for their dedication and hard work. It’s not easy to be both an athlete and a student, especially at Stanford, where academic standards are so high, she said.

Even though Ros and all four members of the class of 2010 were honored, Jayne and Ros are the only ones leaving the team for sure. The other three have another year of eligibility. No decisions about returning will be made until later this year, Tara said in a news conference after the Oregon State game.

In the meantime, Jayne, JJ, Mel and Michelle wanted to have this Senior Night together because they came to Stanford together. And together they and Ros have created many happy memories for themselves and everyone who follows Stanford women’s basketball.

No comments:

Post a Comment