January 28, 2008

Walk-ons have what it takes to compete

An article by Kelli Anderson in the Stanford Magazine about unrecruited athletes asserts, "Some toil in obscurity for a shred of playing time, while a few rise to stardom. All of them play with something to prove—that they have what it takes to compete."

None prove this better than two of the Cardinal Women's Basketball walk-ons:

Take Markisha Coleman, who grew up in East Palo Alto and started coming to Stanford women’s basketball games and camps as a girl. “When I was younger I really wanted to play basketball for Stanford,” she says. “When I was in high school, I wanted to go here because of academics, too.” Coleman, ’07, chose Stanford over Brown and Dartmouth and walked onto the basketball team as a freshman. Two years later, after distinguishing herself as a tenacious practice player, she earned a scholarship. She never played much, but she found satisfaction in her role. “Even if the coach doesn’t call you into a game, it’s still your victory,” she says. “You work hard in practice, you make your teammates better.”

Indeed, a few true walk-ons turn out to have plenty of talent. Kate Paye turned down scholarship offers at Cal and Arizona to walk onto the women’s basketball team as a freshman. Paye, ’95, JD/MBA ’02, earned a scholarship the next year, was the starting point guard her final two years and played professionally for six seasons. “Kate bought into a different level of intensity at the college level; she really outworked people,” says VanDerveer. “She was patient and listened and was very coachable and smart. And whereas other people were ahead of her in high school, by the time she graduated, she was ready for the pros.”

Despite all her success in the game, Paye still thinks of herself as a walk-on. “It’s something I take pride in,” she says. “I created my own opportunity, and I fought for it and worked for it. I took a chance on something I believed in—myself. Besides, I like to tease all my Stanford teammates that I got in without being an athlete. I got in on my own.”

No comments: