I had the exceptional opportunity to interview Breanna Stewart, the 2012 Gatorade High School Girls’ Athlete of the Year along with Michael Cahill from Bleacher Report. This exceptional young lady makes me want to strive for better things and higher competition. The text from the interview is below; She is an extraordinary smart and well rounded human being, and we all expect big things from her next year as she joins Geno Auriemma’s UCONN Huskies. Enjoy!
Congratulations on the win, did you expect to win? Did you think this was going to be your night?
Stewart: Uh no i wasn’t coming into this at all thinking about the award. Just coming into this trip I was just thinking about how great Gatorade has set us up, and the opportunities they’ve given us this week. And i was just going to enjoy the moment, and whatever else happens happens.
What was it like to be surprised(with the Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year Award) by WNBA MVP Tamika Catchings at school? I know you are a very humble person, so, how do you take all this praise and adulation upon you and still stay grounded and still stay you?
Stewart: That was really… I was not ready for that at all. That was a really big surprise, and for it to be Tamika Catchings made it even bigger, just because of the player that she is. And i just keep myself humble, because I don’t overthink it. I dont overthink anything. Yeah, I’ve had the opportunity and the to receive all these awards.and play on some top UDS teams and stuff like that, but i dont let it get to my head becuase ultimately my goals are bigger than that and I want to keep growing as a person and a player.
How do you go about that growth process? How do you go to that next level and achieve those goals?
Stewart:You just got to raise the bar, I mean, obviously you can always improve as a player. There always something you can get better at, whether its finetuning or just working on something specifically. Always have the opportunity to help make something better.
Your basketball accomplishments are plentiful, but your 4.08 GPA is even more impressive to me, how do you even do that by taking AP classes. How are you able to balance basketball and academic expectations and eveything else you are trying to do?
Stewart: Obviously academics come first. When they say student-athlete, it says student first for a big reason, because if you don’t have good grades then you can’t play basketball. I just i take pride in my academics, and it’s kind of just competing like basketball. You want to compete. and you want to get a good grade, and you want to do better than your other classmates. But you obviously want to succeed in whatever your doing.
When did you know that playing basketball was something that you were really better than the rest and that you really wanted to pursue?
Stewart: Um, I think it all started once I got onto a national AAU team. That created a lot of opportunities for me through USA basketball and stuff like that. And it just helped me realize that my goals are reachable, and that if I really work at it and push to achieve these things that I will achieve them.
How has your relationship with Coach Auriemma developed and what most are you excited about in your upcoming time at UCONN?
Stewart: I think Coach Auriemma and i have apretty good relationship. Obviously we havent been together for that long, but I think were gonna have a great time these next 4 years and I really think hes going to help me become a better person and player at Connecticut as well his coaching staff as well.
How will you look back on this 5,10 years from now. What kind of perspective do you have on this night and this award?
Stewart: I mean obviously I’m gonna have great respect for Gatorade. Evrything they put together is great and I will never forget it. Being able to receive the Athlete of the Year award is something that I’ll always remember, and hopefully be able to explain to younger kids that are trying to reach their dreams that it is possible through a lot of hard work and dedication. And hopefully help try and motivate them.
Were you able to chat with Lisa Leslie at all, and what were you able to take away from her words?
She sat next to me at dinner, and she’s given me a lot of advice on going to the next level, and stuff like that. Talking about how you can always improve, and you don’t want to become one dimensional. People are going to try to force you to do things that you’re not as good at. So that means you need to work harder at that. You want to become the type of player where they have to double team you to be able to stop you?
Your game is pretty skilled, but if you are your own worst critic. Where are your weaknesses?
Stewart: I think my defense was better than my offense at one point, but now they are starting to even out. I need to continue to be aggressive on both ends of the court. And just do what I do as a player, and don’t overthink any of it.
What player in the WNBA do you watch and look up to and think man I’d love to carry myself forward like that?
Stewart: I mean players in the WNBA. Obviously, Lisa Leslie is a great role model and someone to look up to like that. And I would say Candace Parker she seems to have great success in what she’s doing so far and I hope to one day have success like she’s had.