Cal Players Share Their Thoughts on Alisa Lewis
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  01/21/2004

Jan. 21, 2004

BERKELEY, Calif. - Cal's three captains - Leigh Gregory, Kristin Iwanaga and LaTasha O'Keith - shared their memories of Alisa Lewis with the media on Wednesday afternoon in the Haas Pavilion Club Room. Iwanaga and Gregory were roommates of Lewis. Head coach Caren Horstmeyer also addressed the team's plans for Friday night's game vs. USC.

Head Coach Caren Horstmeyer

This has been an extremely difficult time for all of us as a team, for the players as individuals, for the coaching staff and of course for the family. We thought we'd take the opportunity for you to have the chance to talk with the players a little bit and understand it's been a very trying time for them and our team is a very close-knit team. These young players were very close to Alisa Lewis.

We'll tell you a little bit of the plan for Friday night. As a team, our players decided it was something they really wanted to do, to get back and get back playing their games and play in honor of Alisa with the support of Alisa's family and their just incredible strength through this whole thing. The family has met with our team and just said, 'Alisa would want you to get back on the court. This is a time to be strong. Get out there, play for Alisa, play for yourselves.' I think that was incredibly strong of them, almost a way of giving permission to get back out on the floor and play. Our team talked a lot last night and decided that that was what they wanted to do - get back out there and get on the court and be out there as a team and as a group.

They have decided to, along with my assistant coaches, put together the idea that they would wear a strip here on the uniforms that would say "A.L. 31" in honor of Alisa. It will be a black patch with pink lettering and numbers. Why pink? Because pink was Alisa's favorite color. You're going to see a lot of pink tomorrow at the memorial service, and again, that was part of Alisa.

So, we decided to play the game at the normal game time. We'll leave on the road tomorrow afternoon to head down to L.A. and try and regain, I guess, some normalness in their lives. But again, it's been a very trying time - a very close team and a young woman that was extremely special to everybody, loved by everybody, and she loved everybody. So what we're going to do is open it right up to questions, rather than have the players make statements, open it up to questions for the players or myself, in terms of what you might want to ask them.

Leigh Gregory, Junior Forward

On why the team is playing Friday as scheduled

We all decided that it would be important for us to do all the things that Alisa would want us to do. Alisa was the type of person who was never lazy or just sitting at home. She was an active person, a person who worked hard, and so we all thought she would really want us to get out and start practicing again and playing and getting back to our normal routines.

On Alisa's room

When we first moved in, the only thing in her room that had been decorated was - it was all white, there were two burgundy shades over the windows. Alisa was such a creative person, such an artistic person that by the end, she had her comforter, her pillow, the paint on the walls, the carpet, every little detail match that one little simple thing, and she had turned her room into a totally different, miraculous room. She was just really creative and really had an eye for very artistic kind of things. It started with a cloth this big that she turned into a masterpiece. All of her walls are bright, bright pink, hot magenta and everything just matches.

On how you're going to feel on Friday before the game

It's going to be hard. I know she had a lot of different pre-game rituals with certain individuals. We had a pre-game ritual at our house. It's just going to be really difficult, but on the other hand, it's going to be really inspiring and very motivating to know we're playing for something bigger.

Kristin Iwanaga, Junior Guard

On what you'll remember most about Alisa

The way she played on the court. She played hard all the time. She was always in the gym working extra. I'll miss her laugh. She was always a happy person. She could always make me smile. She was always smiling. She just loved everyone. She touched every person she knew, and she loved us all and we loved her.

On health concerns for the remaining players

I was just more in shock for Alisa and I wasn't aware of our health.

LaTasha O'Keith, Senior Guard

On how the team comforted each other

We're just trying to really stay together. The other day, everyone stayed at someone's house just to be with them and just to help them get through the day or the night. It's really hard to sleep. Just to have someone there to talk to and just to talk about the good memories of Alisa, just helps you get through that day or that night. Just being together and supporting each other.

On what it was like to meet with Alisa's family

It was great. The family is very strong. Of course it's something that's hard to handle, but basically they wanted us to do what Alisa wanted us to do, and wanted us to keep going strong and to play hard like Alisa. They're just really strong people. I feel that they're getting through it the best they can.

On what Alisa was like

She was a really giving person. She'd put everyone before herself. She's just the type of person who checks up on everyone and hopes everyone's doing well, and then she'd worry about herself. She's just a giving, loving person. I'm just glad to have someone like that in my life. You don't get too many good friends like that.

On what Alisa was like off the court

She had a lot of really good ideas with putting functions together or doing things with the team off the court. 'Tash and you guys, let's do this.' She always came up with certain things to do.

On how you felt when you heard the news

I didn't believe it. I thought, Oh, you're lying. Later you're like, Oh, I guess it's true, then you're still shocked, like right now, you still think she's going to come back. Everyday that goes by, she's not here. There's nothing you can do. I really don't know what to say, [I was] just shocked when you hear something like that [that happens to] someone that's close to you that you're with everyday and you do things off the court [with], go shopping, just do whatever.