Aug. 4, 2004
BERKELEY, Calif. - Sunny Smallwood officially began her duties as Associate Head Coach of the Cal women's basketball team on Monday, Aug. 2. CalBears.com caught up with the long-time Pac-10 veteran to find out her early thoughts on joining the Cal family. How tough was it for you to leave Washington after 11 years? "I think the hardest thing whenever you get settled is the people. Washington is an amazing place. It was hard. But the greatest thing about coming to Cal is that I'm going to have that same connection with people here. As much as that was the hardest thing to leave, it's the greatest thing to come here to." What intrigued you about coming to work at Cal? "The opportunity to be an associate head coach attracted me, along with the opportunity to help (head coach) Caren (Horstmeyer) take this program to the next level. I've always thought they were very much on track even before I thought about being a Bear. Caren has done a great job, and I believe in her mission as to what she's doing. That was the huge attraction - what I could do and also where we're heading." What are your preliminary thoughts on Cal's chances during the 2004-05 season? "The only thing I know for sure is that Cal has been making steady, progressive improvements, which is great for Cal and the conference. I'm expecting great things because I'm seeing what they're doing with recruiting, how hard the staff works and how committed they are to being the best." What strengths do you believe you bring to the Cal program? "Strengths are going to be relationships, whether it be with my team, whether it be recruiting, whether it be within the athletic department or the whole campus. I came as the recruiting coordinator but also because of the coaching part of it. I've been in the game a long time, and I feel like I have a lot to offer. My experience is going to be important here." What are some of your responsibilities? "I know for sure that I'm responsible for recruiting. I know that I'll be responsible for assisting Caren in almost everything, which I'm excited about, in terms of a leadership standpoint. I'll also be working very closely with the defense. From there, we're still reorganizing a bit." What are your early impressions of Cal's selling points to recruits? "No. 1 is the education. You can't beat the education at Cal. In as much as there is life after basketball, education is No. 1. It's also a place where you can prepare a student-athlete to become a professional if that's what they want. The opportunities are there, and the program will provide that. There are also great facilities - amazing facilities from the gym itself to the locker rooms. It's an awesome campus. It's great that it's right in the city, and everything is within walking distance. It's a diverse community. It has it all." How tough will it be for you to face Washington this season? "I'll have to mentally prepare for that. It'll be hard because I recruited all of those kids. The best part is that when you recruit them right, you stay friends forever. That's what I'm anticipating. Hopefully, that'll make it a little easier. Also facing Washington comes with all of the fans, and the fans make it a point to be very close to you. The whole experience isn't going to be easy." What do you enjoy doing in your free time? "In my free time, I love to work out. I like to bike, swim, rollerblade, golf and hike. Those are my favorite things. Working out would be No. 1. I love to have an active life. I also love to spend time with my family." Is Sunny your given name? "Sunny is my real name. It's my given name. My mom's best friend was nicknamed Sunny, and they named me after her."