Rosalyn Gold-Onwude: Role Playing

The Bootleg spoke with G Rosalyn Gold-Onwude about her memories of that glorious Final Four weekend of last April, her special summer, the possibility of a redshirt year, and her thoughts on the upcoming season.

Rosalyn Gold-Onwude entered her first two seasons at Stanford recovering from serious knee injuries. Last season, finally recovered from the second ACL injury that cost her all of the 2006-07 season, she began the year as Stanford's starting point guard. As the season progressed and JJ Hones reclaimed the point guard position, Gold-Onwude had to shift her focus and find other ways to contribute. She did so beautifully, ultimately finding a role in the three-guard offense that Stanford utilized to great effect throughout the NCAAs. This season she may be asked to shift focus yet again. There is a Wiggins-sized hole at guard. Will Gold-Onwude be the one to grab the shovel?

What did Gold-Onwude do over the summer?

"I interned at Nike up in Oregon, had a great experience there as an events and marketing intern. That was most of my summer. I recently got the chance to go home to New York, went to New Orleans, came back here and that was it. It was probably one of the best summers of my life."

What made this summer so special?

"Just that working experience."

Is that the sort of job she would like to have one day?

"Perhaps, yeah. I definitely enjoyed it. I'd love to see a future with Nike."

What did she enjoy most about the work?

"I was given real opportunities. I could be passionate because it was about sports. It involved very innovative, creative design. It's also a very focused culture there. It moves fast. You can move around a lot within the company. And it's exciting. I had a lot of fun. I met cool people. They flew me out to New York. One of the events I worked was Major League Baseball All-Star Weekend."

What did she do at the All-Star Weekend?

"I handled all the events for our executive retailers, like the CEO and President of Foot Locker. I also helped with the visual merchandizing of our VIP hospitality lounge and did some grassroots marketing at Fanfest. I also got to enjoy some parts of the weekend so it was fun. And I was home in New York. I got to see my mom, my boyfriend, and my family."

What was Gold-Onwude able to do to prepare for basketball season?

"They have amazing facilities there. I was able to work out. I woke up at 4:30, drove in to play ball around 5:00 or so. Then I would practice until about 8:00. I'd do a track workout, lift, and then a court workout. There was an intern there who was so kind to come in the mornings and rebound for me. Then I would go to work and after work they had intern pick-up. So it was a great experience, great facilities. They have everything state of the art."

Sounds ideal. So she hits the first practices fit and ready to go? Not quite…

"What actually was tough was that I got in a car accident while I was out there. I just got cleared recently. I got rear-ended on a highway and it was really kind of upsetting because I put a lot of work in for almost two months and then I wasn't able to do anything for a month and a half. I've kind of been coming back in as though nothing happened but I hadn't been working on my game or my body. But I'm working hard now and I'm cleared for some contact, ready to go and regardless of this break, I feel excited! This is the first time I've had back-to-back seasons since my junior year of high school. That's a big deal for me!"

Now to the question of the hour: is Gold-Onwude officially a junior or a senior?

"Academically I'm very aware how I'm a senior. I'm deciding what's out there for me. Basketball-wise Tara (VanDerveer) is calling me a junior, I feel like a junior, and that's something we'll be discussing later on, but something that I'll know early so I can appropriately prepare. It's a logistics thing too. Maybe I can work out a Masters year like Clare Bodensteiner did and get a Co-Term (Co-Terminal Masters program). That would be excellent."

Thinking back to last season, could Gold-Onwude describe her best memories from the Final Four weekend?

"It was different moments for me that really stood out. It wasn't necessarily one thing like a shot. Against UConn I thought the one play where we swung the ball around and passed so well. You see that clip over and over. It gives me goose bumps to watch that. I think running out for the Tennessee game at the beginning, just the intense emotion, seeing the crowd-mostly orange. Just vivid memories like that. And just to have a capacity crowd like that, 30,000, 20,000, or whatever it was. We usually play in front of a full crowd but 8000 or 6000. It was different. It was very special."

Was she more nervous than normal? Did she feel the weight of the occasion?

"I think we were aware of the occasion. I was aware of it more against UConn than against Tennessee. That was that whole spectacle of the game and the whole thing. But the Tennessee game, despite how it looked and that we ended up losing, I was ready to go. We were ready. We were so close. I think I'm someone that doesn't take four years to look back and know that something is special. So I think in the moment I was very aware of how amazing it was and that I wanted to take advantage of it. It was just whatever I could do. If Tara wanted me out there for like two minutes to go hard at something, I would do that."

With help from assistant coach Bobbie Kelsey, Gold-Onwude retooled her game and her approach midway through last season, emerging as a more intense and focused player as well as taking on the role of a gritty defensive stopper. How would she describe that transformation?

"I think last season I was in really good shape, probably the best shape I've been at Stanford. I was around 145 pounds then. Though this year I've put on about 10 pounds on purpose. I think I was getting thrown around a bit. But I didn't work that summer coming off the ACL. I spent the whole summer just working out, getting in shape. I came in so ready to go but that wasn't necessarily translating over to basketball. There were things I was rusty in like court awareness, timing, things I feel I have a better sense of now. Actually now it's kind of flip-flopped. I'm a little bit behind in the strength and conditioning but that comes as the season goes along."

"Redefining the role was probably one of the harder moments to have since something started high and got low. I saw a major role change and I could feel it happening even as I was still playing a lot. I think I had great support from my teammates. Bobbie (Kelsey) helped me out a lot. I just worked hard, you know? And that's what made the season particularly rewarding. I worked my way back into the line-up and found a role in one of the biggest seasons Stanford has had."

What does Gold-Onwude see for herself this coming season?

"I see myself again just being a leader vocally for the team, a leader physically on the court. Candice (Wiggins) left a great example. A lot of times when I'm doing drills I think about how Candice would do it, how hard and intense she would be going in practice. Our best player was the most intense in practice. I just try to lead by example. I think the other veteran guards are stepping up in that way: JJ (Hones), Mel (Murphy), and Jill (Harmon). Even our posts, you know, are stepping up to lead. There's Kayla (Pedersen) and Jayne (Appel). I don't think anybody is going to step up and score forty points a game and if they do, great, but I think it's going to be individuals finding bigger roles on the team. And you can tell by how a lot of these women came back. They're ready to go. Kayla looks like a beast. JJ is in immaculate shape. Mel looks amazing coming off an ACL. People really worked hard. I think everybody is aware of the opportunities this year."

What does Gold-Onwude think is critical for a successful year?

"Keeping that idea that we had last year, that focus on being tough. That's going to take us the farthest. I think that has to be a theme for this year too."

Rosalyn Gold-Onwude seems to have a knack for making big shots (See the 2007 Tennessee game for just one example) and for bouncing back when the sledding gets bumpy. With Candice Wiggins gone and all those juicy minutes ripe for the taking at guard, Gold-Onwude would be a prime candidate for a large chunk of that time and for greater offensive responsibilities. If Gold-Onwude can transform herself to fill yet another role than the Cardinal will be one giant step closer to grabbing their opportunities for a second straight year.

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