Katie Lou Samuelson Finds a Comfort Zone with Sparks – Orange County Register

Perhaps all she needed was to click together on the heels of her Puma sneakers and say: There is no place like home, there is no place like home, there is…

Chicago. click.

Dallas. click.

Seattle. click.

In the fourth season of Katie Lou Samuelson’s WNBA career, she landed in Los Angeles, where she proved that if a sneaker is right, in terms of comfort and design, performance numbers should be followed.

Kevin Kiernan, who was her coach at Mater de High, said she made a name for herself perhaps the best high school player in Orange County history.

“Sparks.”

A few weeks into her tenure here, Samuelson thought of the yellow brick round trip that took her home, adding another class to her local legacy and doing so with the one professional team on the planet making it possible to finish training and then drive to meet her family for dinner.

“It feels right,” she said.

kiss her She has established herself among the greats at UConnThe most successful women’s college basketball show ever, Samuelson was a prep sensation in Southern California, so she could have had her own show on HGTV.

As a high school freshman, Katie Lowe—the youngest of three basketball-playing sisters—was the All-National Player of the Year, sweeping the picks for Gatorade, USA Today, McDonald’s, the WBCA and Naismith. Regardless of the multiple defenders thrown at her per possession, she set records for Mater Dei scoring 29.2 points per game and shooting 62% of the field.

Brea Olinda coach Jeff Sinek called her”The next day, Diana Taurasi‘ Kiernan said at the time that it was Best attacking player he’s seen in 30 years. Three times, Orange County’s record named her Player of the Year; In all, the newspaper featured her in over 100 articles before leaving for UConn.

Rooted in Los Angeles

Sparks’ marketing slogan this season is “It’s Showtime.” Samuelson, who turns 25 this week, got the memo: Twice in nine games she hit her highs in one game (17, 19). She’s averaging her career best of 26.6 minutes per game entering the next five games in the Sparks’ nine days, when they face all three of Samuelson’s previous teams, starting Sunday in Dallas.

But last season’s title, “Rooted in Los Angeles,” in reference to the team’s 25th anniversary and the WNBA, would have also worked with Samuelson, whose place and connections within the SoCal basketball community are deep.

As a child, her father, John, would use once a year his co-worker’s season tickets to bring his daughters to Lakers games, where they would try to predict how many points Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher might score.

Years later, it was Fisher, in his role as Sparks’ general manager, who brought Samuelson home, predicting that her 6-foot-3 frame, versatility and shooting flair would complement superstars Liz Kambage and Nika Ogomec. He traded Samuelson Husky’s teammate Gabe Williams to Seattle in exchange for a first-round pick and Samuelson.

Less than a month into Samuelson’s stint at Sparks, Fischer was coach and GM, the team he had put together for a slow start at 5-7.

Training under Fisher, Samuelson said, was, “just kind of disbelief in the situation he was younger than he was.” But really, it was normal – the same way you remember a movie session with Bryant.

Samuelson met Bryant when she was in college and asked him for advice. His daughter Gianna was a fan of Huskies and Samuelson.

“It was fantastic,” Samuelson said. “I had to watch them train a few times and she was definitely bitchy, just like her dad.

“It was really cool. Just like that, like normal? It’s the weirdest thing ever because you’re sitting there watching a movie with Kobe Bryant and yet it’s like a normal conversation.”

Meticulously, they studied the film together after losing Connecticut in Final Four.

“He looked at everything,” she remembers. “Oh, what happened there?”

“what are you talking about?” I asked him.

He said, “In time out.”

“What or what?”

“Look! Look what they say.”

Samuelson recalls, “And he reads the lips of the opponent’s coach!”

Katie Law had seen a lot of game movies, but it never occurred to her to pay attention to what was going on during breaks in the action until Bryant taught her to appreciate those moments as well.

Long before that, the Samuelsons had moments with DeLisha Milton-Jones, and they occasionally trained with Sparks star co-coach Jason Wright.

“I could see the Samuelson sisters coming and all I heard him say: ‘Wait’ until you see the baby!” said Milton Jones, who was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame this month. “Baby girl, hey Good! “

What impressed Carly the most—who also had some short stints with Sparks and who, like Samuelson’s older sister Bonnie, was a standout at Stanford—was Milton Jones’ “high-gloss” nail polish. For Katie Lowe, her key was on/off the field: “One of the cutest people ever. But when you watch her play, she’s just a beast.”

Being a role model, as Milton Jones understood, is about more than just basketball.

“It’s all something they look at, take screenshots of and apply to their lives,” said Milton Jones, now head coach at Old Dominion. “I’m glad I could have been a positive inspiration to them, through nail polish colors or being the fierce competitor.”

Katie Lou understands that, too.

ok to be ok

On May 20, 2020, Katie Lowe Wrote an article on ESPN.com Share her experiences in dealing with depression and anxiety.

Writing about the mental turmoil she went through, including the emotional injuries she sustained while at UConn, feelings that lingered when she became a professional, she wrote, “In college, I thought, ‘Okay, on my next trip, I’m going to be in Better emotionally. Then I started my professional career, it was like, “I feel like this because I don’t play that much, which is why.” Then you play a little bit more, but that doesn’t help either. I’ve been constantly looking for a reason for that, but I’ve learned that sometimes there isn’t specific reason.”

4 was made overall in 2019 by Chicago Sky but played just seven minutes per game as a rookie before being traded to Dallas, who would have earned 5 points per game off the bench before being dealt again, to Seattle for a pick First draft in 2021.

She encouraged others, especially young children in sports, to share their feelings with a professional or someone they trusted, because “When I started talking about things that I didn’t think made sense, it made sense to them. And I felt that weight was lifted off me.”

Carly didn’t know her younger sister had written the article until shortly before it was published, and Katie Lu said she was stressing about sharing until it was posted. But the overwhelming positive reaction made her believe she had done the right thing.

Kiernan knows it.

“As a teacher, coach and AD the last two or three years have been difficult for children – and adults and teachers,” Kiernan said. “When the kids aren’t in school and they’re alone and isolated, it has a long-term impact on the kids, and we see it. So it was a really timely message and that was really important for the kids to know that they can talk about these things, that a lot of other people feel that way. also “.

home game

Katie Law’s recent contributions to court also have something to write about back home.

She and Carly led their club at Perfumerias Avenida to consecutive La Liga titles over the last two WNBA seasons.

And now, in Los Angeles, Katie Lou — who was engaged this year to Devin Canady of the Orlando Magic and also holds a master’s degree in sports coaching and management from Concordia University in Irvine — will still be starting her way, said Fred Williams, interim head coach.