By Elizabeth Faletti, BASOC Volunteer and Editor
Everything Olympian Jennifer Azzi touches seems to turn to gold. Her success as one of today's leading sportswomen is testament to her dedication to personal fitness and commitment to her sport. Although Azzi spends her summers in Salt Lake City playing point guard for the WNBA's Utah Starzz, her heart remains here in the Bay Area where she is presently an active BASOC board member and spokesperson.
A native of Tennessee, Azzi led Stanford University to a National Championship in 1990 while capturing NCAA Final Four MVP honors. Upon graduation, Azzi traveled overseas to play professional basketball. Azzi was selected to the National Team in 1995 and played in the Atlanta Games in 1996 where she was a member of the gold medal team. Azzi became a founding member of the American Basketball League and she was also starting guard for the San Jose Lasers for the duration of the league. In 1999, Azzi played for the WNBA's Detroit Shock. She was traded to the Utah Starzz in 2000 where she has excelled and led the league in several categories.
Besides playing professionally for the WNBA, Azzi holds popular adult fitness camps in San Jose and Salt Lake City. She credits her dedication to personal fitness for her ability to remain at the top of her game. Azzi took some time out of her busy schedule to talk with me about BASOC, her Olympic experience, and why she feels the world should come home to San Francisco for the 2012 Games.
How did you get involved in BASOC?
Anne Cribbs (Co-founder of the American Basketball League and BASOC CEO) asked me to help out. Anne is only going to be involved in things that are positive and worth doing. Obviously, bringing the Olympics to San Francisco is really something worth doing! To know she is running the show is definitely what made me want to be involved because I know she's going to get the best people involved.
What is your present role with BASOC as an Olympian?
A lot of it is being a spokesperson when I'm in town. I was able to attend a lot of the meetings early on but since I've been spending a lot more time in Salt Lake City, it's been difficult for me. I know there will be a lot of time for me to contribute if we do get the Games, especially between now and then. I know my life is going to shift a lot when I finish playing so I'll have a lot more time and want to continue to be involved. I also contributed to the theme team for basketball and am a member of BASOC's Board of Directors.
From an athlete's point of view, why should the Games come to San Francisco in 2012?
More than anything is why not? Compared to any other city in the world that I've been to, I can't think of a better place. Number one, the weather in the summer is awesome for all of the outdoor events. Atlanta was so hot and humid. I think the climate here is great, the infrastructure is unbelievable. Not only would the San Francisco Bay Area be great for the Olympics, the Olympics would be even better for the community. To tie San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland together would be incredible. The public transportation and the whole "working together" feeling around the Bay Area would bring a lot of spirit and enthusiasm to our community. That's sometimes lost in large metropolitan areas.
What was your most memorable Olympic experience?
One was just making the 1996 team. For all of us on the team, just knowing that you're going to this incredible event was so special. For women's basketball, it was, and still may be, the height of competition. For most people, it's a once in a lifetime experience. The Opening Ceremonies were also incredible. That's where I felt the most emotion. When you're actually playing, you get on the court and basketball is basketball but when you're in that environment you can stop and think and look around. To have 120,000 people up on their feet for the United States and to see the entire world in a peaceful place was pretty amazing.
Thank you Jennifer for your continued support of BASOC and good luck on your upcoming season!