Some people get to have all the fun.
During her tenure at UCSB, forward Kristen Mann got to enjoy four Big West Championships and subsequent trips to March Madness – including a visit to the Sweet 16 – and back-to-back AP All-American honors.
“As her teammate [I was] able to experience going to the Sweet 16 when we beat Houston in the Thunderdome,” Assistant Coach April McDivitt said. “Just the look in her eyes, it was a really neat moment that I won’t forget for a really long time.”
During her senior year, Mann was dealt the role of the team’s lone captain and stepped to the helm with five freshmen to look after. The new job didn’t seem to throw off Mann, an intense competitor.
“It was important for [me] to be a good role model and show the [younger players] what being on this team is all about,” Mann said. “The atmosphere that the coaches created for us was definitely a family atmosphere, and that made it a lot easier.”
With the clock ticking in this season’s Big West Championship game against rival Idaho, things were beginning to look grim when the Vandals held an 11-point advantage late in the game. Mann ignited the Gauchos with a 19-0 run that gave the team back the lead, which they would never relinquish, and gave Mann a career-high scoring mark of 33.
“When all the pressure was on, she was a big-time player and made big-time plays,” McDivitt said.
In her sophomore year, Mann helped the Gauchos nearly upset the heavily favored, fourth-seeded Louisiana State University, only to fall in triple overtime,
“It felt freaking awesome to go in there and have [LSU] take us for granted and then take it to them,” Mann said. “And not too many people can say they were a part of that team [that went to the Sweet 16]; we made history.”
But even with all of her on-the-court accomplishments and honors, Mann proved above all to be a classy human being. Throughout her time at UCSB, she did her best to be a respectable role model for her teammates and the numerous children attending each home game.
“I don’t know how to really put it into words, but I think Kristen is just a person a lot of people like to be around,” McDivitt said.