The UBC Thunderbirds women’s basketball team has had their ups and downs this season, but one player that’s been consistently on her game is forward Kara Spotton. In just her second season with the program, the Colorado State transfer leads the team in scoring (18.8), rebounds (6.1), shooting percentage (.516) and steals per game (1.7). Not to sound cheesy, but Spotton has been spot-on for a Thunderbirds team that features four rookies in the lineup and just two fifth year players. Vancouver Basketball caught up with Spotton to talk about her breakout season with the ‘Birds and what brought the Colorado native to UBC.
VB: Growing up as a star player at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Colorado, you must have had a slew of schools going after you.
KS: I got offers from Denver University, Wyoming and Colorado State University. I was looking to stay local so I committed (to Colorado State) in my junior year of high school.
VB: What was your situation like at Colorado State? Why did you leave?
KS: I got recruited by Kristen Holt. She was there for three or four years before I got there. After my first year she resigned. She had one year (left) on her contract. But (the school) decided that they needed a new coach and sort of forced her out. So coach (Ryun) Williams, who’s actually doing really well there, came over and when you get a new coach they kind of clean house. They try to bring in their recruits (and) move out the old recruits, and kind of establish themselves with the program. I tried to make it work with the new team, but I just felt that I wasn’t really a good fit anymore with the coaching staff and the new team, so I decided to red-shirt and explore other possibilities. After I played with the Canada National team with Kris (Young), she spoke really highly of Deb (Huband) and UBC overall. I was looking to maybe go to a better school academically but also still play basketball at a high level. Deb has a really good track record. They (UBC) have been to nationals a lot. I wanted to go to a program like that and I thought Vancouver is a great place to go.
VB: UBC is struggling a little bit this year. What do you attribute that to?
KS: We are a younger team. We lost a few key starters from last year. We needed to establish chemistry at the beginning of the year, and now we are flowing pretty well. I think we’re doing better at this point of the season. But it’s basically a rebuilding year for us, after losing such an established foundation on that team.
VB: But on a personal level, you’re having a pretty good year.
KS: I’m finally getting pretty good minutes. I’m trying to do the best I can with them. I’m trying to be just a big impact in each game. Its pretty fun. I’m really enjoying it. I think we’re building as a team really well. Diana (Lee) is great. She’s having a really good year.
VB: When you left Colorado State and came up to Canada to play at UBC, did you find it tough to fit in right away?
KB: I felt I fit in right away. I knew Kris (Young) and I thought I hit it off really good with her with the Canada team. Once I knew her, I felt like I got to know everybody pretty well. The team were very friendly. Deb welcomed (me) with open arms, so I didn’t really have a problem with coming in and being a part of the team. Being from the States, it’s a much different environment. The style of play was much different for me, (but) I think overall, it was a easy transition for me into the program.
VB: Now that you’re in your second year with the program. Do you feel like you’ve taken a leadership role with this team?
KS: Yeah, I try. Diana (Lee) and Adrienne (Parkin) are the fifth years, so they have a huge role on the team. On the court I do have a pretty substantial presence as a leader because I have to produce every game. If I don’t produce (people) notice, and everyone on the team knows that it’s a little bit of an off game for me, then everyone else needs to step up. So yeah, on the court I’m definitely more of a leader, scoring and bringing energy to the team.
VB: Do you feel pressure in that role?
KS:There is a little bit. I’ll be in a meeting with Deb and if I had a bad game, maybe under 10 points, its not a great game for me. So there is pressure for me to score over 20 points, because if I don’t, then we need other scorers on the team like Diana and Adrienne to produce, so there’s pressure on all of us to produce because we may not have as many scorers as we did last year.
VB: What’s your summer looking like? Will you be with the Canadian National team program again?
KS: I don’t plan on trying out. It’s kind of up in the air. If they invite me, I might go, but for right now I have an internship lined up that I’m happy about. I might just train here with the UBC team.
VB: Good luck with the rest of your season.