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February 13, 1992 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-02-13

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The Michigan Daily- Thursday, February 13;1992-Page 9
Committed to the Court
Nikki Beaudry adds leadership to Wolverine hoops

by Adam Miller
Daily Basketball Writer
A curious scene unfolded at the
postgame press conference after the
Michigan women's basketball
team's 74-72 loss to Pitt, Dec. 17.
Forward-center Trish Andrew,
forward Char Durand and forward
Nikki Beaudry, the trio that coach
Bud VanDeWege recently labeled
"the backbone" of the team, were
taking turns answering questions
about the Wolverines' last-second
defeat.
However, Andrew and Durand
had answered all of the questions.
Beaudry had sat silently for nearly
10 minutes while her teammates
tried to explain what happened in the
Soss. Finally, the players were asked
if anything could be learned from the
defeat, or if the game was a total
washout.
After a couple seconds of hesita-
tion, both Andrew and Durand de-
ferred to Beaudry.
"We have to stop defeating our-
selves," she briefly replied. When
she finished, the players. left the
" conference room.
It was fitting that Beaudry was
the one asked to step in and finish
off a difficult situation for the
Wolverines. It's a role the six-footer
from Grand Blanc has shined in all
year. Though a junior, she had
started only 12 games before this
season, and began this year on the
bench. However, an early-season in-
jury to forward Michelle Hall,
Michigan's main post-up player,
thrust Beaudry into the' starting role.
She hasn't disappointed VanDe-
Wege.
"We really intended to have
Nikki play on the perimeter this
year," VanDeWege said, "but we re-
ally needed her to play post, and she
has stepped in and done a very, very
solid job."
Let's see ... starter in every game
Osince Hall's injury ... third on the
team in scoring with 10.5 points per
game ... 67.9% at the foul line ...
her 118 total rebounds is second
only to Andrew (189) ... Yes, those
are solid stats.
Naturally, it takes determination
and confidence to step into this kind
of situation. Beaudry qualifies for
both, possessing what her mother,
Carolyn Beaudry, described as a
'very strong desire to succeed." But
this kind of will-power is nothing
too new to Beaudry. It goes back to
the fifth grade, when she got cut
from her elementary school team.
"It made me angry," Beaudry ex-

plained. "I can remember, in school,
being this little fifth-grader, trying to
fight back the tears. I was angry be-
cause (the coach) had told me that I
was not going to be good enough,
and I vowed then that no would ever
tell me that I was not going to be
good enough. So I became deter-
mined. I wanted to prove to them
that they were wrong in cutting me,"
"She got so motivated that she
went and joined a boys' parks-and-
rec team," Carolyn Beaudry recalled.
As she matured, Beaudry's quest
for success was not limited to bas-
ketball. She was a four-year honor.
roll student at Flint Powers High
School, a National Honor Society
member and multi-sport athlete. She
also lettered in volleyball, and was
an All-Big Nine outside-hitter in her
senior season.
Beaudry said she enjoyed her up-
perclass years in high school basket-
ball, but she is one of the few who
will tell you that her rookie year in
high school was one of her most
pleasant.
"My main years were my fresh-
man year and my senior year,"
Beaudry said. "Freshman year, I was
on JV and I had just a great time
with the team. They were all older
than me, so they were kind of like
my big sisters. They kind of put me
under their wing, called me 'little
freshman puppy.' My senior year
was probably the best year of bas-
ketball I've ever had in my life."
As a junior, Beaudry won many
second-team honors, but the awards
came pouring in her senior season.
Detroit Free Press Dream Team.
First Team All-Big Nine. First Team
All-State. Flint Powers also bene-
fited from her strong play, winning
its conference and advancing all the
way to the state finals before bowing
out with a 26-2 record.
"Nikki was the key to why we
made it to the final game" Kathy
McGee, Flint Powers coach said.
"She rebounded, assisted, scored.
She keyed our defense ... she has
excellent leadership ability. She
gives her best and that pushes other
people."
Beaudry was recruited by numer-
ous schools in both basketball and
volleyball - including Michigan
State, Ohio State and Notre Dame -
but VanDeWege made the best sell.
"This is one of the greatest re-
cruiting stories I have," VanDeWege
said. "We went into her home visit
aggressively, saying that if she were
interested, we would agree on the

spot to have her. We wanted her that
badly."
"We talked a lot about aca-
demics, and that was definitely one
of the main reasons (I came to
Michigan)," Beaudry said. "At the
time I was aiming for Med School,
and I thought this would be one of
the best places to get a Bachelor's of
Science."
Beaudry made her decision that
night.
"I called (an hour after Van-
DeWege left), and at first he was
real hesitant, like 'Oh, wow, did I

started getting really nervous; I had
butterflies in my stomach. I thought
he might say, 'No, we took the
scholarship offer back, we changed
our mind.' So I was about ready to
pass out, but then he just said,
'Wow!'
U..
Beaudry was not an immediate
superstar in Ann Arbor. She played
in only 15 games her rookie year,
scoring a mere 15 points and nab-
bing but 13 rebounds. In fact, she
didn't letter that year, spending most
of her time on the demo squad.

"Freshman year my role was ba-
sically on the scout team. I took
pride in giving the starters hell out
there on the court," Beaudry said.
"With everyone graduating - Joan
Rieger, Valarie Hall - I knew that
the position was wide open for me."
While Michigan struggled last
year, Beaudry came into her own.
She led the team in scoring in the
season-opening 82-67 victory over
Grambling State, and established
herself as a rebounding force in the
post, leading the team three times
and taking down 129 for the season.
Her playing time also increased
dramatically, as she saw action in 28
of Michigan's 30 games. This effort
earned her the Co-Most Improved
Player award, which she shared with
forward LaTara Jones.
While Beaudry had established
herself as a post-player, VanDeWege
asked her to switch positions after

many said they were amazed that she
hadn't been starting all along. She
seems a natural in the low-post, and
said she greatly enjoys the position.
"Making a slashing drive is prob-
ably my favorite aspect of the game.
That or the hook-shot down low.
There's nothing like shooting a
hook-shot over a girl who's 6-4,"
Beaudry said.
U..
VanDeWege has nothing but
praise for Beaudry as a player.
"Nikki may very well be the best
all-around player on ourdteam in
terms of offensive and defensive
fundamentals and doing all the little
things right," VanDeWege said.
Beaudry's teammates have simi-
lar praise for her.
"(On the court) she's physical,
yet she's also a finesse player. So
you kind of get the best of both
worlds with her. (Off the court)

'Nikki may very well be the best all-around
player on our team in terms of offensive and
defensive fundamentals and doing all the little
things right'
- Bud VanDeWege
Women's basketball coach

last season. The Wolverines had a
wealth of forwards who could play
-down low - Andrew, Hall, Rhonda
Jokisch - but needed help on the
outside.
"At the end of last year, coach
told me to work on my '3'
(perimeter game)," Beaudry said,
"And so last summer that's all I
keyed on. I busted my butt working
on my '3."'
However, Beaudry suffered a
preseason groin pull which caused
her to sit out a week of practice.
Between the position swapping and
recovery time, Beaudry was forced
to start the season on the bench.
"The day I came back," Beaudry
explained, "coach pulled me into his
office and said he wanted to move
me back to a '4' (post). At that point
in time, I knew that Michelle (Hall)
had established herself at that posi-
tion."
When Beaudry returned to her
forward duties after Hall's injury,

she's a very likable person," Andrew
said. "She has a great sense of hu-
mor, and she also knows how to
have fun."
Finally, lest you get the idea that
Beaudry is some kind of workaholic
basketball machine, listen to her de-
scribe her life during the season.
You will see that "obsessed" is not
the proper way to describe Beaudry.
"Committed" is more like it.
"(Being on the team) demands
too much for it not to be a main fo-
cus of your life. I'd have to say right
now, in the season, that (my life) is
basketball and school. My sorority
(Alpha Gamma Delta) comes down
the line, and volunteering (at Mott
and University Hospitals) comes
down the line, and then everything
social."
Actually, there probably isn't a
single word that accurately describes
Beaudry. It's more like four - too
legit to quit.
no

a,
t

Beaudry

forget something?"' Beaudry said.
"He had offered me a scholarship.
So I said, 'Does the offer still
stand?' He didn't really know where
I was coming from. But then I said,
'Because I'd like to come to Michi-
gan.' And there was a pause for like
60 seconds.
"There was nothing. And I just

Beaudry had to compete with a
mostly upperclass, highly successful
group for court time. These experi-
enced Wolverines went 20-10 in
1989-90 and advanced to the second
round of the NCAA tournament. But
that didn't stop Beaudry from play-
ing aggressively and preparing for
the future.

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