Three, two, one: the buzzer counts down seconds before the girls’ varsity basketball team sweeps the win against Marin Catholic in the MCAL championship game. When the buzzer hits zero, MVP senior Zoe Stachowski runs to her teammates as the team celebrates their monumental win, a victory that wouldn’t have been possible without Stachowski’s contributions.
Whether playing stellar defense or dribbling down the court, Stachowski has been an all-star player on the girls’ varsity basketball team, evident through her leadership role on the court and on the sidelines.
The six-foot post player led her team in both points and assists this season, averaging a total of 13.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game according to MaxPreps. Stachowski was awarded MVP both her junior and senior years on varsity, in addition to achieving first team all-league two years in a row and second team her sophomore year.
Not only does Stachowski enjoy the rush felt when winning her games, but she loves the team dynamic basketball brings to her experience. Along with these achievements, Stachowski was awarded the Don Kreps Award (an award given to an outstanding senior female athlete in honor of Redwood’s former principal) at the Senior Athletic Banquet.
“We’re all doing this one thing together in the same moment, playing this one special sport. My favorite part in the game is when everyone is making shots and cooperating well, we’re just in this flow together,” Stachowski said.
After being Stachowski’s coach for three years, Diane Peterson looks forward to what the future holds for Stachowski and believes her natural strength for the game has allowed her to grow as a player.
“Her basketball skills were very raw, but her athleticism allowed her to be extremely successful since she was difficult to guard around the basket, especially when rebounding since she could out jump most kids,” Peterson said.
Senior Julia Giusti is a longtime friend of Stachowski and has played basketball with her since freshman year. Giusti believes Stachowski not only pushes the team to play their best but is a highly motivated player.
“Zoe is a very supportive player all around. She motivates the whole team collectively to do better,” Giusti said. “Personally, she’s pushed me really hard since she’s a really strong individual team member, and it definitely made me better as a player.”
This year, the varsity girls’ team ended their season with an impressive record of 26-5. Not only was Stachowski proud of her team as a whole, but she said she would always remember the rush it gave her as the Redwood girls’ varsity team has not won the MCAL championship since 1987.
“Winning MCALs is always going to be a moment I will never forget. It felt so good to end my last season on such a high note. Last year, we were really close to winning and in the championship game we lost just by two or three points. This year, all of our work finally paid off in the end as there was no team that could beat us; we were undefeated in regular season 16-0,” Stachowski said.
Stachowski has been playing basketball ever since middle school, where she helped create the Hall Middle school girls’ basketball team. Her middle school hobby developed into something greater as she and those around her began to recognize that basketball was more than just a pastime for Stachowski.
“It’s something that she looks forward to and uses it as her stress reliever. It means a lot to her. She set high goals for herself to play in college. She’s always working towards her goals,” Giusti said.
Stachowski gained her inspiration to play at a young age when her dad would take her and her brother outside to shoot hoops for fun. Because her dad played basketball in high school, he was always the one to push her to play and ignited Stachowski’s spark to try the game competitively.
“My dad really wanted me to play basketball, so he motivated me to actually get into the sport. When I was on my first team in middle school I was just getting the hang of it so it wasn’t very competitive. We lost every game, but I had a great time playing so I wanted to continue the new hobby,” Stachowski said.
Following seventh grade, Stachowski played for the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) team. When she graduated on to Redwood, she joined the freshman team and the next three years she continued her career on varsity. Although Stachowski has tried playing other sports such as volleyball, she feels as though basketball is the right fit for her.
Basketball has continued to be the main component in Stachowski’s life. Not only does Stachowski start for Redwood varsity team, but she also plays basketball year-round. In the summer she plays on a sponsored team in Oakland and in the fall she plays on the North Bay Basketball Academy (NBBA).
“Between all of my teams, I probably get two weeks off all year round. It’s a lot, but I enjoy it so much so it doesn’t matter to me. It is also more engaging because I have some good friends on my team,” Stachowski said.
Because Stachowski has been playing on varsity since sophomore year, she has developed a special relationship with many of her longtime teammates and also watched herself enhance her skills through the years playing with older and more experienced girls.
“I looked up to the older girls and wanted to be like them but being a leader now, I’m not constantly thinking, ‘Oh I have to be a leader.’ It just happens naturally. I’m just here for my team because I love the game,” Stachowski said.
Now as a senior, Stachowski has been the leading role model not only on the court but on the sidelines.
“Being a captain this year, Zoe had to take on a vocal role. You could hear her pumping her teammates up on the court when they needed to be fired up in critical game situations,” Peterson said.
Stachowski often plays for the entire game so she makes sure not to let her guard down. No matter how tired she is, she pushes herself to her limits because she knows her teammates need her.
“Even though Zoe is very aggressive on the court, her heart is always in the game. She gives us the energy when we’re down to come back to save the game, and not get down on ourselves when we are losing, “ Giusti said.
Additionally, as a member of Peer Resource outside of the court, Zoe has developed skills enabling her to be the leader who is open to talk to everyone and to be a support system for the team.
“She’s always there for everyone on our team and always able to talk. I know everyone on the team can rely on her on the court and off,” Giusti said.