Dec. 17, 2001
Berkeley - It's not as if Michelle Wald needs another project. But that doesn't stop her from looking.
Of course, she can also be very selective. For instance, as a student at Sunnyvale's Homestead High School, she realized that her fall sports calendar was conspicuously empty. Volleyball wouldn't do. "You had to wear spandex," she said.
But a lesser-known sport-with uniform attire unbeknownst to her-caught Wald's attention.
"It turned out that in field hockey you had to wear skirts, but I didn't know that at the time," she said.
Despite the uniform, Wald enjoyed the sport nearly as much as she liked basketball and found that she was quite good at it. A couple of drawbacks to field hockey, however, tempered her love of the game.
"I'm probably better at field hockey, but I like playing basketball more," she said. "With basketball there's a lot more action and more fans."
A quick recap finds that high school for Wald consisted of basketball, where she earned first team all-league honors four times, field hockey, where she was named team MVP, studying, which led to class valedictorian honors and it meant taking on leadership roles, such as class president.
Indeed, high school was a busy time for Wald, who now plays basketball and field hockey for Cal while majoring in business administration. Playing two sports at the collegiate level can be tricky, especially when trying to schedule classes around two sets of practices.
"Doing a lot of things keeps me on track," said the 5-foot-9 Wald. "If I have too much free time, I'm not very efficient with it and I don't get my work done. It's harder now in college to do so many things because school is harder. I'm not really looking for anything else right now."
Maybe not, but years ago she committed to another project of which she now finds herself in the middle. Her interest in art has led to an annual tradition of creating hand-painted holiday cards for her friends and family. "Christmas is kind of a hectic time," she admitted.
As a freshman walk-on, Wald played in three games for Cal's basketball team at shooting guard and last year contributed in 10 contests at the point, which is the position she's playing this season. Although primarily a defensive player in high school and during her first two years at Cal, Wald said she's been working on shooting this year and in the process, came across a shot she never knew she had.
Growing up in the South Bay, Wald knew that she wanted to stay in the Bay Area for college. She narrowed her collegiate possibilities to Cal and Stanford. Cal recruited her for her field hockey ability, but when the Golden Bears told her they'd give her the opportunity to walk-on the basketball team. That sealed the deal and she moved to Berkeley.
Wald missed the official walk-on tryouts, though, because the field hockey season overlaps much of the basketball pre-season. A special one-week tryout session was held and Wald made the team. Since then, she's turned into a leader on the court and is looking to use her three years of experience as a basis for helping the younger players improve.
"I'm trying to work hard and make everyone else work harder at practice," she said. "As a point guard I'm trying to make sure that everyone knows the plays we're running because some people have trouble with that."
The Bears started the season strong, winning five of their first six games. Beginning its second season under head coach Caren Horstmeyer, Wald said the team chemistry is solid, despite having several freshmen on the team.
"We're not treating this season as a rebuilding year, which most people think it should be because we've got so many freshmen," she said. "We've also got a lot of hard workers that were here last year and who really want to win."