Williams, a fifth year senior, will be remembered for her sweet shooting. In fact, she stands 8th in career 3-point FGs attempted and tenth in three-point shots made in Cal history. She is also second in career free-throw percentage.
Known for her great footwork and tenacious play, Gregory will leave as one of Cals most prolific scorerscurrently 11th in Cal history with 1009 points.
Iwanaga is on pace to be the Pac-10 record holder for both career and season FT percentage. She is also in the Cal record books for 3-point shooting: shooting percentage (2nd), field goals made (4th), and attempts (7th). She is also 9th in career assists.
Although they have left their marks individually in the Cal record books, they have not been able to break through in terms of a winning record. They have also endured one the greatest tragedies of Cal sportsthe death of teammate Alisa Lewis.
As they prepare for the final homestand of their careers, the tri-captains sit down to reflect on their time in the Golden Bear uniforms.
Q: How have the program and the team changed over the years? Kiki, you came in before Coach Horstmeyer took over, so lets start with you.
Kiki Williams: Well actually, I got here at the same time as Coach Horstmeyer, but I was recruited here by Marianne Stanley.
Q: So did you consider transferring when Stanley was fired?
KW: No, because I came to Cal for more than just the coach. Academically, Cal was the top school I was looking at, and I knew I wanted a Cal education. But the program has changed a lot.
Leigh Gregory: I think the biggest thing is that everything is much more stable now. When I first got here, it seemed a lot more disorganized. But now we have a lot of good traditions which have been set.
Q: What kind of traditions?
LG: Summer workouts, for one. I know when I first came here, there was no schedule set up for summer workouts. I mean, I came in on my own a few times, but it wasnt a team-wide thing. Now of course, we all stay here in the summers to work together.
Q: What fond memories will you take away from your days as a Golden Bear?
KW: Weve been on a couple of tripsto the Bahamas and to Hawaii. Of course there were the snow-fights. But its just more the memories of being together as a team.
Q: Have you had any pranks that youve played on the newcomers this year?
Kristin Iwanaga: No pranks, exactly, but we always have fun off the court together. Were all pretty silly. I think thats the word for us. Its gets crazy when were around each other.
Q: Do you recruit for "silly?"
KI: Yes, thats the first thing we look for!
Q: Are the newcomers silly as well?
LG: Not as silly. I think they provide a nice balance, actually.
KW: But we do that for each other too. There would be times when one person, for instance KI, would rein us in. Because if everyone was silly at once, wed get nothing done.
Q: How have you all grown as basketball players?
LG: I think for all of us, the biggest thing has been leadership. I think the three of us were sort of picked out early as potential leaders, and the coaching staff has really helped us with that.
[Here, Carol Alfano, Director of Operations for Womens Basketball, walks by, making faces].
KW (loudly): Of course, not all the staff has been helpful.
[Alfano comes over and puts Williams in an affectionate headlock and puts her hand over her mouth]
Carol Alfano: Carol Alfano is a great person. She is a role-model and she inspires me everyday!
Q: Weird, Kiki, how its you talking and yet the words come out of Carols mouth!
KW (pushing Alfano away): Yes, Im a ventriloquist!
Q: I did want to talk to you all about how it feels to be role-models. Lots of little kids come every game to watch you play. I used to take my little second graders to a game, and to this day, the students still talk about it. One boy always asks about Kikiyoure his favorite.
KW: Thats so great. After every game, the kids are so excited to see you. They make the tough losses a little easier to take and the big wins even bigger. And its not like I recognize all the kids Ive ever met, but after a while, you see some familiar faces and watch them grow over the years.
LG: Our attendance has increased every year, and thats a tribute to the coaches, you know, and how they get us out into the community. I think its so important that were not just trying to get people to come to our games, but that we give back by doing clinics and such. So then when people come to the games, its like, "hey, you were just at our school!" It becomes a reciprocal relationship.
Q: KI, because you are a guard, many little girls can really relate to you. On top of that, youre an Asian-American playing Division I basketball, and there are not that many of us at this level. I know that youve inspired so many of my girls; after seeing you play, they couldnt wait to shoot hoops, some for the first time.
KI: Yeah, I guess there is a pretty large Asian-American fan base out there.
LG: Oh please, shes being modest. But we see it all the time. So many Asian-American little girls are like, [squealing] "We love you KI! Youre so great, KI! "
KW: "Youre a superhero! How can I learn to play like you?" Then the parents: "Shes such a good student too! I want my child to grow up to be just like KI!" KI this, KI that. Its non-stop!
KI: [Laughing] I hate you.
Q: But you must see the impact youve made
KI: No, its great if I can get more kids, especially Asian-American kids, to be interested in basketball.
Q: Leigh and KI, you were part of the last big group of newcomers, the first class brought in by Caren. Did this years big class bring back memories for you?
LG: Yeah, I thought about it when they first got here
KI: So much has happened since then
KW: For me, after I red-shirted, I became part of the same freshman class, which has kind of dwindled over the years
Q: I know that during the season, you and the team have chosen not to speak publicly about Alisa, but now that your careers are coming to an end, would you like to take the opportunity to share about her? I mean, she was such a huge part of your experience here
KW: I think that for me, as traumatic and difficult as her death was last year, at this point, its really about remembering how she was when she was here, all the funny things she did, and how she lived life. Sometimes it feels like she was here yesterday.
LG: You come to college, you play basketball, and you want to win every game. You want all these personal accomplishments. And while thats important, now we know that there are things way more important than wins and losses. Alisa was a blessing to me, to all of us. And that blessing will never be taken away. Ten, twenty years from now, we wont remember any of the games, whether we won or lost. But my memory of her will always be with me, and thats a really cool thing.
Q: Thank you for sharing. Now, like you said, lets look forward 10-20 years. What do you see yourself doing? Kiki, youre in a Master's program at the School of Education, right?
KW: Im looking into Sports Administration, perhaps someday working for the NCAA. Or perhaps go into coaching or academic advising. But then Ive also applied to law school, and Im waiting to hear on that. So its all kind of up in the air.
LG: This is my last semester, and then I think I just want to have lots of fun for a while, since its been a tough couple of years. Then after that I might want to go into education, maybe teaching, but with an eye toward becoming a school administrator.
Q: What about you, KI?
KI: I still have a year left in school, so I dont even want to think about it.
LG: Shes going to coach.
KW: Yes, shes going to be a great coach!
Q: Soon you will all go your separate ways. What will you remember most about each other? Lets start with Kiki.
LG: Ill remember her organization. No, Im not sure if thats the right word. I think I mean that she always seems to have things so together, you know? Like when I was a freshman, I knew nothing. It was like, "How do I walk?" And Kiki really took me under her wing. Ill always remember how nurturing she is, how patient and understanding. Even now, because Im a senior, people will come ask me something, and Ill say, "Ask Kiki."
Q: "Coach Kiki"
KW: (rolls eyes) Oh God, thats just the dumbest thing why are people still
KI: Ill remember how she sleeps a lot.
KW: We all do that!
KI: And how she doesnt like to do laundry. In fact, her mom still does her laundry for her.
Q: Well, I guess thats one advantage to being local
KW: Its not that I dont do laundry; I just hate going to the laundromat. If I had a washer-dryer right in my place, Id do it. Im moving back home next week, so Ill be doing my own laundry then.
Q: Or maybe then its all laundry all the time for mom
KW: Leigh doesnt like doing laundry either!
Q: All right, lets talk about Leigh next.
KW: She brings out the silliness in all of us. I dont know if well ever meet someone as silly as Leigh again.
KI: Thered be times when were supposed to be asleep, but if Leighs there, shed get us talking about something, and then wed be up for hours.
KW: Its been great being able to watch her grow into her self and into her body, literally. Watching her becoming a woman. Ill remember how she was the first to pluck her eyebrows. Shes a friend for life.
Q: And KI?
KW: Her wit. When she first got here she was a shy introverted girl, but now a few of us know how crazy she can be. And out loud or under her breath--she just has perfect comic timing.
LG: Ill remember her loyalty. No matter what happens, shell be there.
Q: Lets talk a little bit about your coaches
LG: Coach H has been great. Not to say that wins and losses arent important, because we are here to compete and win. But look at the whole program; look at what shes done from a program standpoint. Look at the outreach to the community, the togetherness of the team. And while she may not have had the talent, look at what she has coming in next year. I think that she has really set up the program to succeed in the future.
KI: And all the other coaches too. The thing is they make it clear that they care about us, and as people, not just as basketball players.
KW: Yes, theyve all had a huge impact on who we are. Even the coaches who are no longer here, were still in touch with them. We know that theyd be there for us if wed ever need them.
Q: Any words to the fans?
KW: A big thank you! We were losing to Stanford here at home, and it was pretty bad. But at one point Leigh and I were on the bench, and we turned to each other, "Look, theyre still cheering." People genuinely care about us.
KI: Especially last year. We really felt it then.
KW: Wed go on the road and wed play top-25 teams, teams with better records. But thered be no fan energy. Teams across the country dont have what we have here.
LG: Theres also a core group that have been with us through it all. And they have worked just as hard as we have. And for us three local kidsto get to stay at home and play basketball and be welcomed into another family at Calits been amazing!
KI: So thank you!
Come honor Williams, Iwanaga, Gregory, as well as seniors Khadijah Coakley and Jacqueline Sanchez, as they play their final game at Haas Pavilion against Oregon on Saturday (2/26) at 2 p.m. The Bears defeated Oregon State on Thursday night, 74-60 behind 23 points from Kiki Williams.
©Copyright 2005, TheBearInsider.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.
If you haven't done so already, subscribe to The Bear Insider so you can participate in this online community and get access to the members-only content from the nationwide Insiders network.
Bear Insider staff writers visit the Insider discussion board regularly, and are available to discuss questions you may have about this article and Cal Athletics.