SHOOTING STARS: Skimming sophomore women’s basketball center Sydney Stipanovich’s resume, it’s difficult to believe she’s only been at Penn for less than two years. Since joining the Quakers in 2013, Stipanovich has already racked up honors including 2013-2014 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and Ivy League Rookie of the Year—making her the first player in Ivy League history to win two Player of the Year awards in the same season. Last season, the St. Louis, Mo., native became the first freshman in league history to win four Ivy League Player of the Week awards, and she set the University record for blocks in a season (99) and in a game (9).
BIG HIGH 5: Stipanovich kicked off 2015 with what she says was one of her most memorable career moments thus far—helping Penn win its first Big 5 championship. The team defeated Temple, 52-50, with Stipanovich finishing just shy of a triple-double with 13 points, nine rebounds, and eight blocks. “Last year we won two of the four Big 5 games, and getting that third one this year after craving that first place for a year was pretty special,” she says.
LEVEL UP: After making the transition from high school basketball to the collegiate level, Stipanovich says she found efficient time management to be one of her biggest struggles—a feat she mastered with the help of the team. “Not only that, but it’s a faster pace game [with] stronger players, and is overall a lot more difficult,” Stipanovich says. “My teammates and coaches made it an easier transition, and the year turned out great. Winning [the Ivy League Championship] against Princeton was something I’ll never forget—I get chills just talking about it.”
FAMILY AFFAIR: Basketball is in Stipanovich’s blood, and she says it’s something she’s been passionate about from a very young age. “My dad played basketball in high school, my uncle [Steve Stipanovich] played in the NBA for the Indiana Pacers, and my whole family has just always had it on in the house, whether college basketball or the NBA. I drove my dad crazy taking me to look at schools and when I came to Penn, I just fell in love with it right away. The coaches and the players were amazing, and I really couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play for such a great academic school.”
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: Despite her swath of awards and broken records, Stipanovich says the most rewarding part of playing with the Quakers is the team itself. “It’s like a second family—we’re all away from our families at home but because of how close we are as a team, it makes me less homesick for sure. I know that these friendships that I have now are ones that I’ll keep for a lifetime.”