Almost seven weeks ago I was packing up my car getting ready to move 2,000 miles away from home. Everyone kept asking me how I was doing, how I was feeling and I could never quite come up with a word to describe it. I was so excited to finally start a new chapter of my life, so afraid to leave life as I knew it behind, but so ready to finally make this dream of mine come true. When I was nine years old I received my very first UCLA hat and decided that’s where I was going to go to school—it has stuck with me ever since. The first time I was ever on campus was the summer after my freshman year of high school. I came to camp and knew this was the place for me. I instantly felt like I had a connection with the coaching staff and I really knew how special this place was. When the opportunity to be a walk-on at UCLA was presented to me, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. I knew what UCLA had to offer me was so special, unique and unlike anywhere else that no amount of money could ever turn me (or my parents) away. I am so lucky to have parents who believe in the power of a dream as much as I do. These past six weeks I have been surrounded by people with such abundant knowledge about the game of basketball who also they care about me deeply and want me to be a great basketball player but an even better person. That’s what makes this program so unique and special to me. I have been working side by side with the most talented group of basketball players I have ever been with in my entire life. But as talented as they are, they are even better people, teammates and friends. I have never worked harder, laughed louder, or loved life more than I have in these past six weeks. This place, these people and everything about this program I get to be a part of are awesome. And I feel like awesome isn’t even a strong enough word to describe how truly incredible it is to be here. Being able to stand along side to learn and get pushed by the very best basketball players and coaches in the country is truly a blessing. We have been faced with some adversity but have responded so well. Not even thirteen million gallons of water could stop our team from getting work done this summer. I am so proud to be a part of this team and I cannot wait to see what the next few months have in store for us. Moving 2,000 miles away from home to come here was the best decision I have ever made in my life.
My first summer at UCLA was definitely an experience that I will never forget. I was able to become acclimated to a completely new system while taking classes, practicing and working out every day, while still involving myself in the social life of a Bruin! I've had so much fun over the quick 12 weeks since I have been on campus! It surely wasn't easy, but I feel that I have grown in many areas on and off the court. There were plenty of memories made this summer, but I would say my favorite was the team photo shoot! The shoot was incredible because of the detail that went into it and the energy that everyone brought to the set. The team danced all throughout the shoot, and hyped each other up, which made the environment that much more fun and at ease for all of us. I loved seeing how my teammates portrayed their loves and hobbies outside of basketball in the photos. It's cool seeing how so many people with very diverse backgrounds come together as one. The photo shoot made me appreciate my team even more because I respected how everyone was able to exemplify the idea that not all women's basketball players are rough and boyish. I see us being the prototype of women's basketball because we can keep our femininity but kick butt on the court! This isn't seen too often, but the photo shoot brought it out of all of us. I am so appreciative of this experience and when the pictures are released, I cannot wait for the world to see how special UCLA Women's Basketball is!
Hello all Bruin fans!
I hope you are all having a great summer! I am Paulina—the Swede on the team. I can with confidence say that we just finished up a whole summer with a lot of hard work, growth and commitments. It has been a great summer and I know we all have learned a lot. Our coaches are every day giving us the opportunity to get better both as a basketball player and as a person, and we have embraced it well.
Of course we spent a lot of our time sweating on the court, lifting in the weight room or running in the stadiums. But today I would actually like to share another perspective from our team. I love our team; we are a very diverse team with a bunch of different fun personalities. This summer, we have done some really cool stuff outside of practice too.
Right when summer school session C started, Madeline Brooks on the team started her new life as Madeline Poteet. We all got to be a part of her beautiful Bruin wedding that was at Janss Steps with a wonderful view right on campus. We, as well as the men’s baseball team, were there (Madeline's fiancé, now husband, is on the baseball team) and a lot of other Bruin guests, included Josephine and Joe Bruin. It was a night to remember. We all danced barefoot around and with the married couple, and we also clearly won the dance battle against the men’s baseball team. Even Coach Cori showed off her moves with us on the dance floor and we had a great night together.
A couple of weeks later we had the honor to do an amazing photo shoot that was two days with different themes this year. I would like to thank our donors so much for this opportunity; this is something very unique that most teams don’t get to do. We are all really thankful for this and it is one of my absolute favorite happenings of the year. We had two different days of shooting where the first day’s theme was retro. We all were wearing really cool Adidas outfits and the pictures were very athletic and fashion inspired. The second day was the focus on the team picture. The photographer knew exactly how he wanted us and we took really cool shots. I am excited to see the result of it. We also got to take funny pictures with UCLA props, personality pictures and pictures with a professional outfit. We get to work with such a professional people and it feels like we are real models. We get a chance to shine, even outside of the court.
We also went to a soccer game where some of us decided to dress up with random clothes. It is a tradition here at school with some students. When you look at the outfits, the goal is to get people to wonder “what’s going on with that outfit?” and to be crazy cheering for our women’s soccer team. Some of us also got to be a part of the Olympian Rafer Johnson 80th birthday party. He is an amazing man and we got to meet all his friends and learn more about his life.
As you can see, it has been a great summer even outside of practice…something I believe is really important to a team too. Enjoy the pictures; you will see the result of the good pictures from the photo shoot soon! I hope we get to see you all when the season starts!
Until then, take care!
// Paulina Hersler #24