It's hard to say: I'm becoming a California girl

Courtesy of Stanford Athletics

The recent trip to LA was about more than hoops; it reminded Chiney Ogwumike how much California has become a part of her and her sister's lives.

One of the best things about college is being immersed in a new environment. You are independent. You realize very quickly you and only you are accountable for your success or failure.

Nevertheless, when you go, you take a piece of home with you: your values, hopes, dreams and ambitions. With all of this considered, it is extremely hard for me to say -- especially coming from Texas -- I am becoming a California girl!

I grew up very sheltered, largely by my own choosing. Before you start jumping to conclusions, I did go to high school dances. I was allowed to go to the movies, visit my friends, etc. But I didn't really feel a dire need to do all of that.

The reason I chose to stay within myself was because I believed high school was a make-it or break-it period in life. It was the time when you laid the foundation for the future.

If I wasn't in school, I was in practice. If I wasn't in practice, I was in student council. If wasn't at either of those, 99 percent of the time I was at home doing homework, catching up on my shows or getting some rest. Nothing really exciting there. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Courtesy Stanford Athletics

Joslyn Tinkle had a big game for Stanford against USC and is now just four points from 1,000 in her career.

Now as I am writing this, I can understand why my parents would worry. What is going to happen when my child goes to California, with all the freedom to do whatever she wants?

For those who do not know, Stanford University is technically in Stanford, Calif., but is often recognized as being a part of Palo Alto. Palo Alto is a cute, tech-y town that captures the essence and innovation of the Silicon Valley. To the north is the awesomely crazy city of San Francisco. In less than an hour’s drive, you could be in San Jose, Oakland or even Santa Cruz.

I love the Bay Area. To crush the anticipation, no, I did not go buck-wild. I occasionally will go watch the Golden State Warriors play, have dinner on Pier 39 or visit my extended family in Fremont. But other than that, I am on campus, trying to stay on top of my academics or occupied with games and practices.

Again, I would not have it any other way. Because again, I feel like this is a make-it or break it period in my life. I am laying the foundation for my future each day I go to class or practice. Stanford has become my new home.

Our recent trip to Los Angeles put that all into perspective. I have always loved this trip because the city of LA has a natural energy that I believe translates to our team and our opponents.

This week we had different people step up in different games. Joslyn Tinkle is most definitely “Showtime.” She had a great game versus USC and is now just four points away from 1,000! Mikaela Ruef is also a huge role player for us, as evidenced by her double-double versus UCLA. Both teams gave us a great fight, one that taught us how to play hard for the entire 40 minutes.

But this year, our LA trip had a newfound significance. I returned with memories from this past summer of walking down the streets of Marina del Rey with my big sis, grabbing our favorite Thai food along the Promenade, and most important, proudly attending my first Sparks game.

California is becoming a part of us. Anytime you are working toward a goal, everything you do is make-it or break it, one step closer to achievement. Even though we may be in different places, we still look at each other as those notorious little girls from Cypress, Texas, with big dreams.