Stanford Athletes

Kate StarbirdAfter a record-breaking four years at Stanford, Kate Starbird heads for the pros.

By the time she finished high school, she was the state’s leading scorer and not just of the girls. She won every statewide honor available (and a few national) and decided to come to Stanford. She leaves this year with a degree in computer science and the new world of professional women’s basketball at her feet.

In four years at the Farm, she constantly broke records and set the Pac-10 Conference pace to win the Naismith Award this year as the country’s top women’s basketball player. “For some reason,” she says, “I just thrive in this system. Perhaps I got this award just because our team does so well consistently.”

But there’s much more to Kate Starbird than record-breaking. What has left sold-out crowds in Maples on their feet in disbelief is her ability to steal the ball or get a pitch from a rebound and go coast-to-coast, changing directions and speed as defenders practically fall on their faces while she zigs past them in overdrive. If they crowd her, she simply suspends gravity for a second or so, changes hands, twists her body and tosses in a reverse layup from the other side of the basket. A couple of great moments came due to her high-flying double-play:

Point guard Jamila Wideman is tearing down the court and zings a half-court pass to Vanessa Nygaard under the basket. But Nygaard, who leaps into the air to catch the ball, doesn’t shoot. Before her feet hit the ground, she flips the ball to Starbird, who has driven toward the basket from the other side and already is in the air. She catches the ball and does a silky lay-in.

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