There's a nice feature in the Chronicle today about Stanford center Jayne Appel, who is the first kid I used to babysit to become a contender for Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. For many years, she swam on a team I coached, excelling in backstroke and winning a Coach's award for her hard work and positive attitude. I think it's clear that Appel's success on the basketball court is a direct result of rhyming cheers, intense games of Marco Polo, and of course, washing Coach Sean's car.
Perhaps Appel's most significant accomplishment is, in my solipsistic world view, making me root for Stanford for the first time in my life. Even after decades of parental anti-Palo-Alto brainwashing, I still have no problem pulling for the Stanford women in hoops, a clear sign that Jayne is a special kid. She's only going to get better once she starts earning the respect of the officials. I suggest she begin holding her nose and quacking like a penguin and perhaps doing more cannonballs.
So when you're filling out your brackets for the Women's NCAA Tournament in a few weeks, don't overlook the Lady Cardinal, particularly if any of the tournament games are held in 4-7 feet of water.