When my daughter Liza was eleven, we wanted to find something productive for her to do. One of our friends suggested basketball and directed us to a local AAU club, the Yosemite Badgers. She was about as green as it gets — I remember thinking that she hardly knew which end of the ball to pick up. But they took her in, along with a number of other girls with varying levels of experience, and turned them into a team. They were awful at first, but after a couple of years, they improved enough to get an invitation to the national tournament for their age group. I helped coach that team for a while and I have a lot of fond memories of the girls (and the young women they became).
One of those young women is named Katie Menton and she just finished her career playing for Pepperdine University. She leveraged her talent and a lot of hard work into a dazzling high school career, and then a full scholarship at an expensive, prestigious university. She played well for the Waves and appears in several of the university’s all-time statistical leader lists, but what really makes me happy is that she will graduate this spring and plans to go on to graduate work. She was the last of my “girls” to move on from organized basketball, so I am a little sad, too. It’s been a remarkable ten-year run.