February 22, 1999
BERKELEY - Midterm exam question #1 - Junior Paige Bowie is: a) Outstanding student, b) Dynamic softball player, c) Sharp-shooting basketball ace.
Answer: All of the above.
Not just a phenomenal forward for the California basketball team, Bowie shines in the classroom and on the softball field. A basketball co-captain, she leads the team in scoring for the second-consecutive season at about 12 ppg and has made a name for herself as one of the best three-point shooters in the Pac-10 Conference. Simply, she can do it all.
"I think from the beginning you could see that Paige had a pure shooting touch that you don't see every day," said Cal head basketball coach Marianne Stanley.
"She is somebody who can just light it up on any given night. If we need to score a basket, Paige is one of those players who everybody has confidence in, and that gives the team an important boost."
Being placed in such a critical leadership role is one that Bowie relishes. On any given night, the Fresno, Calif., native is capable of pouring in 20 points or even a career-high 30 as she did against Northwestern in December. While Bowie recognizes that not every night is going to be a record-setting performance, she expects the best from herself to help the team.
"I think sometimes Paige is her own worst critic. I've had to help her to relax and be patient and not try so hard to make something happen on offense," said Stanley. "She needs to set herself up, get open, and allow us to get her the ball instead of taking the whole burden on her own shoulders. She's learning that, and that is helping her to be a little more consistent throughout the season."
Bowie agrees that she can be her toughest critic but adds her supportive father into the equation.
"My dad was a huge motivator for me, more so in softball because that was his forte," said Bowie. "As for basketball, he knew I enjoyed the sport so he pushed me to always do better, offering his advice and always being out there working with me."
Regardless of Bowie's individual performance in basketball or softball, the most important measuring stick for Bowie is her teams' successes.
"If we win, everything else is secondary," said Bowie. "I would like to have a good game and be a huge factor in our win, but that's not what's most important."
But like the answer to the opening question suggests, basketball isn't the only sport in which Bowie thrives at Cal.
When the basketball season is over, Bowie will join the softball team as the starting left fielder. As a redshirt freshman last year, Bowie earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention and second team Academic All-Pac-10 honors after finishing fourth on the team with a .290 batting average.
"There has never been a conflict between the two. I'm all for it, and I want to see her succeed in both sports," said Stanley. "It takes a unique individual to balance all of the things that she does, and I have a lot of respect for that."
A slap hitter who can also hit for power, Bowie's extreme competitiveness has extended into everything she endeavors, whether it's chalking up a 20 RBI season at the plate or setting a school-record eight three-pointers on the floor, there isn't a limit to her talents in sight.
"Paige has adapted well to her role. I'd certainly like to see her scoring average go up," said Stanley. "Next year will be another step in our overall improvement as a team, well-seasoned and well-experienced all the way around, and having depth at every position. That can only help Paige because the better the rest of the players around her are the more she can contribute because defenses won't be able to key on her."
When that day comes, look out.
Next season, Bowie's leadership will be even more important as the only senior on the Cal basketball team. But Bowie is prepared to keep her role in perspective as the team will be stacked with a veteran sophomore and junior class.
"I think there will be pressure to lead the team. It will be my senior year, and I'll want us to do well," said Bowie. "I look forward to it. I think it will be a fun experience. I don't think the burden however will fall solely on me because we will have players that will have been here for awhile and will have experience."
Bowie epitomizes the meaning of a student-athlete. She plays two sports well and carries one of the highest GPAs on the Cal basketball and softball teams. After three years of coaching Bowie, Stanley recognizes what drives Bowie to achieve her goals.
"She is one of the most competitive people I've ever been around. The combination of being industrious and conscientious gives me confidence that I can count on her."
BY PATRICK J. MERRILL