This month in The Bootleg Magazine we brought you a feature story
exalting the fab four frosh class for Stanford Women's Basketball, with a focus
on Candice Wiggins. Continuing that work, here now is a deeper examination
of 6'1" forward and NorCal standout Christy Titchenal.
To revisit the magazine story, click here.
Entering the 2003-2004 basketball season, Christy Titchenal had plans on finishing out her high school career with a bang. Despite guiding the Ursuline Bears of Santa Rosa, Calif. to the state semifinals and the state quarterfinals the previous two seasons, Titchenal was hungry for more success. Hailed as one of the purest shooters in Northern California, Titchenal wanted to do everything within her power in her last year to break through the Northern California Regional and lead her squad to the California State Championship Game.
After averaging a solid 12.3 points a game as a junior, Titchenal picked up her play in her final year, pouring in over 14 points a game throughout the preseason, highlighted with a 21-point outburst against Castlemont High School in mid-December. However, her senior year would come to a screeching halt, as she learned that she had contracted mononucleosis.
"It was awful having mononucleosis my senior year!" bemoans Titchenal. "I had to miss two thirds of my [senior] season."
It began innocently enough, with Titchenal feeling increasingly tired as the season progressed. Her lack of energy was soon followed by a series of colds. An ensuing bout with pneumonia was a sign that something was wrong with Titchenal's immune system. By the time conference play rolled around in early January, Ursuline's star player was unable to suit up for her team, as the debilitating illness continued to take a toll on her health. It wasn't until mid-January that her doctors figured out that mononucleosis was the culprit for Titchenal's deteriorating state.
Permanently sidelined for the remainder of her season, the 6'1" sharpshooter could only rest and let her body heal itself. Instead of practicing jump shots and free throws, Titchenal was relegated to the classroom and her bed. For this straight-A student, even having mononucleosis was no excuse to slack off with her studies.
"For most of the beginning, I didn't really do much… I still had school because I was doing all these honors classes and AP classes," she describes. "It was really difficult for me to keep up, but my teachers were really nice about it."
After the mononucleosis had flared down and the doctors gave her a clean bill of health, Titchenal found herself out of shape and nowhere near the level of fitness required of a Division I athlete. "It was so hard to get back into shape," reveals the Stanford freshman. "I lost 15 pounds of muscle."
However, a dedicated Titchenal followed a strict regimen of strength workouts that would allow her to regain much of the stamina and muscle she had lost over the months when she was recovering from mononucleosis. "I feel a lot better… I'm almost to the point of where I want to be [at Stanford]," says Titchenal. "I think I'm above what I was before, strength-wise, because I've been doing the summer workouts [the Stanford coaches] gave us. My body is so much stronger."
"I'd say I'm about 95%," she declares.
In addition to improving her overall fitness, Titchenal has been diligently working on refining her individual skills for the upcoming season. The Sonoma, Calif. native's shooting touch, her signature skill, will remind Cardinal fans of current senior Sebnem Kimyacioglu, as Titchenal's ability to nail the triple will provide Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer another lethal weapon out on the perimeter. To diversify her offensive game, Titchenal spent much of the summer learning to create her offense effectively on the college stage.
"I need to start creating my own shots," remarks Titchenal. "I was mostly a set shooter in high school, but I did also do jump shots… take a dribble and I could elevate over people, but it's different at the college level because people are much more athletic."
While her battle with mononucleosis wrecked havoc on a promising senior year, the illness had no effect on Titchenal's future athletic career. The talented guard had given Stanford University a verbal commitment in the Fall of 2003 and made her matriculation final in November when she signed a Letter of Intent. While the decision to attend Stanford was "a no-brainer," Titchenal took an unconventional route in securing a scholarship from the reigning Pac-10 Champions.
Rather than join an ultra-competitive AAU squad like many of her peers who hoped to play college ball, Titchenal opted to instead become a member of Strictly Hoops, a club located near Titchenal's home. Rather than deal with the pressures that come with the win-at-all-costs mentality that many top AAU teams display, Strictly Hoops provided Titchenal a fun and enjoyable atmosphere.
"Before my senior year, before all the recruiting happened, I was not really on an AAU team that went anywhere," explains Titchenal. "I didn't go to Oregon [to the famous End of the Trail Tournament], I didn't go back East… not a lot of teams knew about me. Stanford didn't even know about me until that summer."
The lack of exposure on the recruiting trail left Titchenal an undiscovered talent among the college ranks. It wasn't until her club coach, Scott Davis, discovered that Titchenal maintained a 4.0 GPA that he encouraged his star player to consider suiting up for the Cardinal.
"He called Amy [Tucker] about me and they sent [former Cardinal assistant] Julie [Rousseau] out to watch me. I guess she liked me," laughs Titchenal. In early September, Davis, a collegiate coach at nearby Dominican College, set-up a scrimmage between his players and Titchenal, which allowed Tucker to further examine the merits of her game.
The talent of the Northern California star soon leaked out to the basketball community and other schools got on board the Titchenal Express, as the anonymity vanished and her stock rapidly rose. While the gifted shooter had scholarship offers pouring in from schools like California, Washington, Oregon State, Santa Clara, and the University of San Diego, she only officially visited Vanderbilt and Stanford. Unfortunately for the Commodores, the proximity and overall excellence that Stanford provided proved to be too big of a draw for Titchenal to resist.
"Basically, it came down to Stanford and Vanderbilt. I went back to visit Vanderbilt and I really liked it a lot, but I knew that Stanford was where I wanted to go. I dreamt about it since I was a kid," the Sonoma standout admits.
Although she thoroughly enjoyed her official visits to each respective university, Titchenal felt more at home with the Cardinal. While Vanderbilt tried to wine-and-dine their way into signing Titchenal, her time on The Farm was seemingly more down to earth and honest.
"At Stanford, it was like, ‘This is what you are going to get. You are going to be working your butt off,'" Titchenal recalls. "I really liked the team a lot. They were all positive and focused and friendly."
With a scholarship to her dream school firmly in hand, Titchenal has not forgotten those who have helped her achieve her goals. Basketball was a constant presence in the Titchenal household and she credits her father, a former collegiate player at the University of Hawaii, and her eldest brother Mike, a current guard for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, with helping her along with her game.
"My dad was my basketball model because he worked so hard and he instilled that in me. My older brother was a role model to me as well," she credits.
As a youngster who started playing organized basketball at the Boys and Girls Club, Titchenal began her blossoming career in the comforts of her own home.
"I can remember the first time I made a shot on a 10-foot hoop," she remembers. "I was four or five. We have a half-court in our backyard and I was just flinging the ball to try and have it go in."
Luckily for Stanford fans, Titchenal's shooting technique has significantly improved over the last 13 years and with her sweet shooting touch, she will be an asset to the Cardinal for many years to come.
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