Jan. 3, 2000
By Tom Kolbe
While college is a time of adjusting and creating an identity, it
appears to be easier for some students than it is for others. For some
motivation is a problem, while others do all they can to create a solid
foundations for achieving goals and creating memories.
Junior Kelley Siemon came to Notre Dame in pursuit of a degree in
sociology along with the opportunity to play basketball for one of the
nation's elite programs. While realizing her vast dreams, Siemon new she
would not be alone and would always have the support of her family to get
through both the good and bad times.
As a senior at Edina High School in Edina. Minn., Siemon earned USA
Today honorable mention All-America honors after averaging 21.0 points and
11.0 rebounds as a senior.
She quickly became a dominant presence in the Notre Dame lineup as
a rookie during the 1997-98 campaign in which she averaged 8.0 points and
5.2 rebounds while starting 30 of 32 contests. The Irish finished with a
22-10 record and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament for the
second consecutive year.
Last season, Siemon once again was a mainstay in the starting
lineup (30 starts in 31 games) as she posted averages of 5.8 points and 5.0
rebounds during a season in which the Irish finished with a 26-5 record.
Now a junior, Siemon faces a different challenge this season in an
altered role coming off the bench as a backup to senior Julie Henderson.
Currently averaging 5.5 points, she is comfortable with her new role coming
off the bench, but continues to look for new ways improve her game.
"This year has been better than last year because I was in a little bit
of a slump (last season)," Siemon says. "I am working on regaining my
confidence and focusing on doing some of the things I know I can do to make
our team better and lead us into the NCAA tournament."
The best game of the young 1999-2000 season for Siemon came against
then eighth-ranked North Carolina as she tallied a season-high 12 points
and grabbed five rebounds in a convincing 99-86 victory over the Tar Heels.
"I am probably not yet playing at the level I should," Siemon says.
"I still have some improving to do as far as the season goes and as far as
becoming the offensive threat I hope to be."
One of several experienced veterans on this year's team, Siemon is
a player who knows the road to success and the many twists and turns it can
take. A starter in all five NCAA tournament games she has participated in,
experience in the big games has led Siemon to contemplate the path of this
"As a team, we still can be better and need to make improvements
with each practice and game," Siemon remarks. "We have let up against some
easier teams and played better against the competitive ones. In order to
improve, we need to become more consistent."
Siemon has maintained her positive attitude and knows she others
depend on her and the role she plays.
"It has been somewhat different for me being out of the starting
lineup," she says. "I hope that I'm a spark for the team and give them the
boost they need when I come off the bench. I try to play hard and be
aggressive while getting the little things done. It is a different role,
but one that I'm willing to assume."
Siemon intends to remain positive and make the most of her
opportunity on the floor.
"I am still getting the same amount of playing time (as last
season)," Siemon says. "I feel comfortable with the way I have adapted to
the different role."
In maintaining her philosophy, Siemon believes she is an important
part of the puzzle of success for the Irish this year.
"It is how you help your team when you are in the game that really
matters," Siemon says. "As long as I perform well while in the game, I am
not worried about starting or coming off the bench."
While Siemon, who hails from an athletic family, has enjoyed much
success at Notre Dame, she looks to her family when she is in need of some
answers. Her father, Jeff, played football for the Minnesota Vikings,
while her other siblings - a brother and two sisters - all have
participated in athletics at one time or another.
"I have a lot of support from my family," she says. "It is always
nice to call home following a game and get some encouragement and advice
from them. Listening to my parents and training hard has made me the kind
of player I am today."
Over the past two years, Siemon has relied heavily on the support
system of her family. Her appreciation and admiration for their steadfast
guidance has grown with each passing year.
"My parents have helped me more in the past two years than I ever
remembering them helping me in high school," Siemon says. "I have had good
times as well as struggles, but they have always been there for me.
Calling home has helped me a lot."
Religion has been a key component for the entire Siemon family as
it provides an additional angle in solving some of life's greatest tests.
"My father is in the ministry now and he really helps assure me of
my faith," Siemon says. "Our family has a very solid Christian foundation
that has reminded me that the trying times are just a test of faith."
It has been her family that has provided the initiative for
Siemon's success and motivation, and the foundation by which she lives out
her daily life.
Confident in the role she plays on this team, Siemon knows and
understands what it will take for the Irish to reach their ultimate goal -
a national championship.
"Coquese Washington (assistant coach) has been telling me to make
the most of my time on the floor," Siemon says. "She continually
emphasizes the importance of making the most out of my playing time. She
stresses the importance of every game, and that each one of has to be
willing to make sacrifices and leave nothing on the floor during practices
and in games."
It is that philosophy which Siemon believes will ultimately lead
she her teammate to the goals they have set this season.