November 18, 2016

Reflections from India: Surmounting my Expectations


India. What are some images that come to mind when thinking of this particular country? The Taj Mahal? Colorful clothing? Perhaps crowded streets and bustling markets? I know those images were exactly the ones that came to my mind when I found out that I would be participating in ACE India.


However, what I failed to comprehend was exactly how different the lifestyle in India is from my own and what exactly I would be experiencing during my time there.

Everyday on the way to my volunteer site called Vidya – a school for underprivileged children without access to education – presented the perfect opportunity to observe everyday life. From the very first car ride, I realized just how different the Indian lifestyle was. First of all, no one uses traffic lane lines. Every car is unevenly staggered, aggressively accelerating even if only 5 feet of space is available ahead. There are motorbikes weaving in and out just mere centimeters away from other vehicles. People cross the street, slowly meandering throughout the traffic, but confident they won’t get hit amidst the chaos. Horns honk every 3 seconds and the occasional cow or elephant can be spotted lazily making its way through traffic as well. I’m convinced that street life in India is an art.

At the school, from grades pre-k to 11th, students rise up out of their seats to acknowledge us when we enter the classrooms. When we walk by them, each student says, “Good morning ma’am,” or “Hello Didi,” with a gentle wave and a shy smile. The more I toured the school grounds, the more confident and excited I became to start working. That is, until one of the teachers threw me in an 11th grade class and said, “OK you can start teaching them,” and then walked out.

I was left in the classroom with a fellow volunteer feeling extremely unprepared as all the student’s eyes fixed upon us in anticipation of what we had to offer. The students told us that they had chosen business as their area of concentration. In my head I was thinking “how in the world am I supposed to teach business to these students?!” I hadn’t taken a single business class in my life. I’ve also never taught in a classroom setting, especially to students only a couple years younger than me. So there I was, half a world away in India, standing in front of a class with no prior experience whatsoever, to teach English to Indian students whose English was already fairly advanced, and to also infuse some principles of business, which I knew nothing about. At that moment, I realized how underrated being a teacher was.

After that initial experience, my volunteer partner and I began brainstorming class activities and lesson plans. I had to adopt this aura of authority and wisdom for the students who were eager to learn, but in reality on the inside, I was terrified and doubtful of my ability to teach. However over time, each day of teaching became better than the one before. I’ve learned so much about India, my students, the way life goes on here, and so much about myself. I would have never imagined myself in a situation that I described above, but it has been nothing short of phenomenal.

In the classroom I was out of my comfort zone, but on the playground I was more in my element. Kids pulled at our sleeves begging us to play games with them. A group of little girls taught me how to play Kabuddi, the oldest game in India’s history. They squealed with laughter as I attempted to play, not knowing the rules.

I also had the opportunity to play some basketball. I remember doing a simple right handed lay up and everyone stopped and clapped in awe as if were some acrobatic feat. It was such a surreal experience. It’s hard teaching specific skills to the students because they’ve been playing basketball in their own style and rules their entire life, but I played along because basketball is basketball nonetheless.

Sometimes on the playground, I just talked to students who weren’t playing sports and just learned about their life. I’d ask about their plans after school and hear about the way they thought or the desires and dreams they had. What I heard was sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes amazing, but always interesting. Once I asked a girl about her henna on her hand. It wasn’t an intricate pattern at all and I asked why because usually hennas are elaborate. Her response was, “I am a simple girl, and only want simple things.” I loved that.

So whether I was observing from a car window, standing in front of classroom, playing my own sport in a foreign country, or simply just asking questions to younger children, I was constantly being introduced to new things. Processing all the information and flinging myself into situations where I have no clue how to respond left me utterly exhausted but also brought me to many new insights and discoveries about myself and about life beyond anything I’ve ever known.

-- Alexa

March 8, 2016

Lessons about teamwork

Basketball is a teacher of many lessons. I learn new lessons everyday through my exposure to basketball.  During my time here at Stanford, one of the most important lessons I have learned is the importance of teamwork. Here are a few lessons about teamwork:
Tenacity - As a team, we have a duty to strive and persist to win as many games as possible. As the saying goes, “The game is not over until it’s over.” We must fight tenaciously until the clock hits 0.0.
Effort - The more work you put in, the better the results. Winning as a team takes consistent effort from each teammate.
Attitude - Attitude is everything. Whether our attitudes are expressed verbally or through body language, a positive or negative attitude can be infectious.  Staying positive and working together as a team is a major key to success!
Mindset - Basketball requires mental toughness.  As a team, we must keep our minds focused on our goals to be victorious. Without a strong mindset, challenges become obstacles!
Work ethic - A strong work ethic not only builds character, but also produces rewards on and off the court!
Opportunity - At Stanford we have an amazing opportunity to play basketball while obtaining an excellent education, and this should not be taken for granted. We also have an opportunity to bond and grow as a team. Teams with great chemistry win championships. 
Repetition - Great practice makes great players, and great players make great teams. The more we practice, the more we sharpen and develop our skills that prepare us for challenging games ahead.

Knowing Who You Are On and Off The Court - Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned is that basketball demands that you know who you are, whether on the court or off.  We play the game of basketball and strive to do our best, but basketball does not define us – we define it.  If we maintain this perspective, we are free to excel, not just in basketball, but also in all walks of life. 

-- Bri

March 5, 2016

Spirit animals

Hey Stanford Fans!

Y’all get to see us play every week but how much do you really know about us off the court?! Well… what better way to get to know us than to know which spirit animal each of us most resembles!

Alanna- a wombat! (small animal native to Australia). Alanna is a wombat because she is soft, cuddly, adorable, and…. Australian!
Alexa- a sea turtle! They’re laid back, go with the flow, and love to travel!
Marta- a poodle. Confident, proud, and spoiled.
Shannon- a giraffe! Tall and cute!
Britt- an elk. Very competitive with great endurance. Also a high sense of integrity.
Kaylee- a lioness! Because she’s always fierce, whether it’s the way she acts, looks, hoops, or any other aspect of life.
Bird- an elephant. Wise and peaceful but still enjoys having fun.
Bri- a dog! Loving, playful, and VERY loyal.
Kailee- a wolf. There’s no doubt KJ has her packs back!
Karlie- a cheetah. Marvelous, fast, and smooth!
Lili- a bear. Symbolic for strength and courage. Has strong grounding forces and provides stable leadership.
Alex- a sloth. She thinks for herself, moves at her own pace, and just likes to hang out and do her own thing.
Kiran- a deer. Calm, peaceful, and wise.
Tess- a raccoon. Crafty, smart, and willing to eat anything in sight. Also, as long as they are unbothered, they mind their own business and stay under the radar.

Hope that gives you guys some insight into who we really are!

— Kiran

March 2, 2016

Coffee Club




As a freshman, I didn’t really know what to expect for when we would travel to our away games. For example, where would we eat? Would we have time to see the city we were playing in?

I was imagining our road trips to be like the road trips I would go on during my AAU tournaments…lots of free time, shopping, seeing the iconic places the city I was in had to offer, etc. I love traveling and road trips were especially fun!

However, in college, I quickly realized that road trips for away games were very different. Traveling during season and in the midst of school barely left any free time to do anything. Between practices, watching film, team dinners, shoot-arounds, and of course lots and lots of homework, there was always something to be done at the hotel.

But as someone who loves to travel, I still wanted to experience some aspect and get somewhat of a feel of city we were staying in. That’s when I learned about Coffee Club.

Coffee Club, established by previous Stanford Women Basketballers, is a group open to anyone who wants to join. Every morning on road trips, Coffee Club meets in the hotel lobby before breakfast. Tess Picknell, Coffee Club’s president, searches for local and unique coffee shops to go to, and then whoever shows up for Coffee Club that morning; we all walk together to that coffee shop.

Consistent members of Coffee Club are myself, Tess, Bird, Hanna (our video coordinator), Kaitlin (our athletic trainer), John (our communications director), and Mary (our intern).

Coffee Club is such an awesome group. It gives me and everyone else an opportunity to explore and experience the city a little bit when time permits us not to.

Coffee Club gets me up early and has me feeling productive. It’s a great start to my day! Not to mention, talking with Coffee Club members over warm pastries and delicious cappuccinos unique to each city never fails to put a smile on my face…also Bird always seems to have a funny story to tell.

It’s a great bonding experience. I even remember one time a coffee shop in Spokane had board games, so we all gathered around a table and started playing Scrabble! It was so much fun!

Hopefully Coffee Club will continue in the upcoming year. Who knows… maybe after Tess graduates, I will become the next Coffee Club President?

— Alexa

February 15, 2016

Cardinal Strengths


A few weeks ago, after one of our practices, Bird mentioned the idea of a super player who had all of my teammates’ strengths. She would have:

Karlie’s shooting,
Lili’s clutchness,
Shannon’s post moves,
Bird’s shot blocking,
Kailee’s basketball IQ,
Kiran’s versatility,
Tess’s strength,
Bri’s ball-handling,
Marta’s passing,
Kaylee’s rebounding,
Brittany’s ability to get to the basket,
Alexa’s speed,
and
Alanna’s finishing around the rim

I thought about how crazy it would be to play against someone like this because they would be virtually impossible to beat. But then something struck me. I realized that our team can be just like the super player. If we maximize on everyone’s strengths, this team can be unstoppable.

However if one strength is lost the capability of the team declines. From seniors to freshman, in order to succeed everyone is needed. As we approach the last third of our season it will be fun to see how we will organize these strengths.

It may take a little while to see the full potential, but once we figure it out I have no doubt in my mind that this team will be stronger than ever.

-- Alex Green



February 3, 2016

Translation from the Australian

My commitment to Stanford University meant not only leaving everything I knew and the safety of home behind me in Australia, but also having to adjust my use of language.

Some people say Australian’s have their own language and on arriving in the USA in September last year I came to realize that this is somewhat true.

On my first day in Palo Alto I made my way to Target in search for some bedding. I proceeded to ask a store employee where the “doonas” were located. The look I got from the employee was a mixture of confusion and concern. I had to explain that a “doona” was a blanket used to keep you warm at night.

I have experienced countless more instances similar to this one, where no one seems to understand what I am saying. In an effort to help people understand some of the Australian language I have come up with some rough translations.

Doona – blanket used to keep you warm at night
Vegemite – delicious condiment that is commonly spread on toast with butter
Mate – a friend, more than an acquaintance
Barbie – Barbeque
Bikkie – Tasty biscuit
Bloke – man, guy
Brekkie – Breakfast
Crook – sick, unwell
Daks – pants, clothing worn on the bottom half of the body
Dunny – lavatory
Lollies – candy but not chocolate
Corkey – deep bruise, Charlie horse
Maccas – MacDonald’s
Spewin’ – angry or extremely disappointed

— Alanna

January 26, 2016

A new look at the Juniors

Hi Stanford Fans!

It is crazy being an upperclassman this year. I love my Junior classmates. This is our third year together, and I would not ask for anyone different to spend my four years of college with. Each one of us is very different and this makes us get along so great. To tell you a little bit about each one of us, I wanted to compare each of us to a dog look-alike.

I love dogs. My first dog was a golden retriever named Sami. My family now has a new puppy named Lucy. She is a black lab and no matter how big she is getting, she still thinks she is a lap dog. She constantly jumps up onto the couch and sits right on you. Here are what I think are not only dog look-a-likes for us five juniors, but also similar in personalities.

Bird – St. Bernard
For Bird, I always get a smile on my face when I see her, so I thought a St. Bernard was perfect. When I think of Birdie, I think of a fun-loving, energetic person who’s always putting a smile on people’s faces. When I see a St. Bernard, I just want to give him or her a big hug. They are gentle, lively, and friendly just like Bird.

Lili – Komondor
Now, I chose the Komondor for Lili because of its dread-like fur. However, looking up the personalities of Komondors actually match Lili quite well. Komondors are intelligent, independent, and protective. When I look to Lili, I always know she has something meaningful to say and I know she has my back.

Kailee – Rhodesian Ridgeback
Kailee is tall, athletic, and tan. So I thought a Rhodesian Ridgeback would be a perfect look alike. Looking at the personalities of these dogs, however, also gave a perfect match. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are strong-willed, dignified, and loyal. I know that Kailee always has my teammates and I’s backs and she is always going to be there to fight for herself and her teammates.

Kailee Alternate

Bri – French Bulldog
Bri was a tough one to match. I went with a French Bulldog because she is small and athletic. Bri may be small in size but she does not act small. French bulldogs are easy-going, alert, and playful. Bri is one of the most easy-going people I know.

Karlie – Yellow lab
I just picked a yellow lab for myself because I am blonde and I love them.

And just to throw in some dog pictures for the coaches:


— Karlie

January 25, 2016

From one family to the next

I absolutely love when people ask about my family because I always have so much to say about each and every member. I could tell endless crazy stories about my siblings and our adventures, ranging from playing roller-basketball in the driveway to creating slip-n-slides into our pool.

It’s safe to say there’s never a dull day in the Sniezek household, granted, there are quite a few of us. To be exact, I have six brothers, two sisters, and two parents. When people discover that I come from a large family, I unfailingly receive a variation of the following question, “can you recite all their names?” I’m sure you were all thinking it as well so here it goes, my parents are Edwina and David, and my siblings in chronological order are Sarah, Edward, John, Joseph, Robert, Michael, Matthew, (myself), and Katerina.

Like I mentioned earlier, I could talk forever about my family, but I’ll try to keep it short. In my very unbiased opinion, my mom and dad are the epitome of great parenting, that’s not to say they’re perfect (no offense Mom and Dad), but they taught my siblings and me what to value in life and the importance of strong morals.

As for my siblings, well I can honestly say they’re my best friends. Since we’re all about a year apart, growing up together was quite entertaining. Imagine having recess all day, everyday with your favorite buddies. That’s how I would describe my childhood.

In many aspects, having a big family is quite similar to being a part of a team. I learned a great deal about communication, leadership, and togetherness, so much so, that I attribute much of my success to my family.

Although I miss them everyday, I know my family is proud of me, as well as my decision to attend Stanford.

And what’s even better, I’ve been fortunate to find a second family here at Stanford, my team.


--Marta

January 21, 2016

Memories of Four years

Freshman Year

First day on campus. Aly Beebe and I went exploring on our bikes (that didn’t stop us from getting lost on the way to the gym on the way to our first workout), I had only learned how to ride a bike two weeks before (in preparation for college), I ran into pole and crashed. I bent my handle bars and went flying. I walked into my very first workout at Stanford with four or five grapefruit sized black and purple bruises covering my legs. But I haven’t crashed my bike since!

The first time we went to Hawaii, the food was amazing, that was the first time I had experienced the gloriousness that is papua. At breakfast they had this coconut syrup that is just to die for. Two years later and I still remember that syrup, of course the win against Brittany Griner and Baylor at Hawaii was sweeter, but only just.

Sophomore Year

The team trip to Italy was simply amazing. I remember Aly, Amber, Alex and I got completely lost on the first day we were in Rome. But I think that overall the funniest part of that trip was when we were playing our first game. We were about half way through the first quarter and somebody had just delivered some water bottles to our bench, we all took huge drinks of the water, and then almost as one we all choked and spit it out, because unknown to us the water that we were given was sparkling water instead of regular water.

My Sophmore year was also my first year of coffee club, I remember one time Sara James, Mikeala and I walked 30 minutes in the middle of a wind storm before breakfast to get to the cafe. I think that might have been the best coffee I ever tasted…and then we walked back.

The Final Four was pretty awesome as well.

Junior Year

I think that one of the most memorable moments of my Junior year, besides the Connecticut win of course (Amber making the three to tie up the game will always stay firmly in my memory as most awesome moment of all time), is when we finally beat ASU in the PAC-12 tournament. The locker room after that win was crazy, plus I always love it when Bonnie breaks out her AC/DC Dynamite performance.

Senior Year

It’s been great so far, but I think that the best moments are still ahead of me.

Tess Picknell

January 4, 2016

Secret Santa

This year our team decided to do a Secret Santa gift exchange, we drew names out of a cup during the Gulf Coast Tournament, we were obviously excited about the Holidays coming up.

The plan was to pick a teammate, get them a small gift, keep it a secret, and we would do the exchange in the locker room on the 21st before we all went home. On a team of 14 girls there aren’t many secrets, we hate keeping things to ourselves so we didn’t think that the secret part was going to work, but everyone was so excited about our new holiday tradition and lips were sealed!

I was driving back to campus from Target when we got back from the tournament and I don’t know what came over me but I decided if we were going to have gifts in the locker room we had to have a tree to put them under so I took a sharp U-Turn to the tree lot I had just passed. The man was nice enough to make a little stand for the mini-tree I got out of a stump. It was the best purchase of the year, it brought a little holiday spirit to the locker room and that tree is still green after a month and I am pretty sure no one ever watered it!

The gifts started to appear under the tree as the 21st was approaching but there were shipping dilemmas that required we push the exchange until the 26th when we were back from our short break. Despite the wait on the 26th the team gathered around the tree to open presents, and I can easily say that this was my favorite ever team activity!

I won’t share what everyone got each other or anything like that, mostly because I cannot remember, but it was so exciting to see how happy people were when they opened these small gifts.

It was amazing how perfect people’s gifts suited them! Usually at a gift giving event people give and receive random stuff but our gift exchange was so special because it was so THOUGHTFUL! Gifts were really varied, from clothing to tea kettles, but each one had such a story behind it… something someone had mentioned in the locker room one day, something that had a saying on it that the teammate always says, or just a fun gift.

The gift exchange was so much fun for our team and definitely a tradition that is here to stay!

Happy New Years Everyone,

Kailee Johnson