The Wolfpacker

March 2013 - Signing Day Edition

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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S By Brian Rapp enior Night at NC State this season (Feb. 28) honored just one graduating senior. But that lone player ��� along with her coaches, teammates and the Wolfpack fans ��� will likely remember the evening as a Senior Night unlike any that preceded it. When Marissa Kastanek leaves the court for the last time in what has been a brilliant four-year career, she will exit with more awards than any previous Wolfpack player of the last decade: ACC Freshman of the Year (2010), three-time (and probably four-time) All-ACC selection, ACC All-Tournament selection (2012), and Pan-American Games team member and captain (2011). She is also No.�� 2 on NC State���s all-time list for made three-point shots (235 and counting prior to Feb.��28), is among the school���s all- As the last player recruited by Kay Yow ��� and the first by Kellie Harper, who spent her first official day as Yow���s successor in 2010 reconfirming Kastanek���s desire to come to Raleigh ��� Kastanek has been the living embodiment of that succession, and the bridge between the two eras. ���Two days after Coach Kellie was named coach here, she came out to Nebraska to visit me,��� Kastanek recalled. ���That meant a lot to me, because nobody goes to Nebraska for the fun of it. When she did that, I knew I was wanted. ���I have never regretted that decision ��� it has opened up so many doors for me. I never questioned coming here because I���m a firm believer that once you make a decision, you go with it. Sure, maybe I could have gone somewhere else and been in the top 25 every year, but I don���t say, ���What if?��� The No.��1 They also see a player who, according to Harper, has the rare ability to put setbacks behind her, learn from them and turn failures into successes. ���When she isn���t playing well, she���s able to figure things out,��� the coach said. ���A lot of players, when they���re in a funk, can���t get themselves out. Marissa constantly is looking to make a positive contribution ��� and that doesn���t necessarily mean shooting and scoring.��� As she looks back on her memories on the court, Kastanek admits there are a few notable ones ��� the ACC Tournament upset of Duke last year perhaps at the top. ���And winning the Kay Yow Award [as the ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2012, an honor which she is the favorite to duplicate again this year], I can���t put into words what that meant,��� she said. The Last Of The Line Marissa Kastanek Exits A Record-Setting Career As The Last Link To A Coaching Legend time top�� 10 in scoring (1,590 points and counting), and is among the school���s all-time top��25 in ACC three-pointers (attempted and made), three-point field goal percentage and free throw percentage. And depending on the date of her last game, the Lincoln, Neb., native and second oldest of four children of Dave and Lisa Kastanek may also own one of the most impressive records of all: most games played in a Wolfpack uniform. With two regularseason games remaining and a guaranteed first-round ACC Tournament appearance, Kastanek will have played 130 games for the Pack as of March 7, one short of the record of 131 set by Connie Rogers (1979-82) and Angie Armstrong (1980-83). A second game in the ACC Tournament would tie the mark, and any game after March 8 would make her the lone record-holder. But beyond all the honors on and off the court (including four straight appearances on the ACC All-Academic team, two Academic All-America team selections, her perfect 4.0 grade-point average with nothing but straight A���s her entire academic career, two postgraduate scholarships from the NCAA and NC State, and membership in the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honors society), Kastanek has meant much more to the Wolfpack program than all the three-point bombs, crucial free throws, endline-to-endline energy, and trophies, certificates and citations that have been showered upon her. reason I came here was to get an education and a degree, and I used basketball to help me get that.��� Harper, too, admitted in the days before Senior Night that this year���s would be different for her, though it would mark her ninth as a head coach. ���There are times I���ve sat back and thought, ���I���m not going to have Marissa next year,������ she said. ���You do go through this every year with the senior class, but this is different because I haven���t coached here without her. ���She has been the face of this program these last four years, mainly because of her effort on the court. From day one, she���s been a fan favorite. They appreciate somebody that works that hard, who looks like they just love playing ��� and who then takes the time to be available to speak to their kids. She has just been a great ambassador for NC�� State women���s basketball.��� That hustle and drive, which she admits has ���always been a part of me,��� and a competitive nature that typified the very core of the Wolfpack program���s character, has drawn fans of all ages to her games. Those who still revere Yow���s memory see in Kastanek the qualities that Yow prized, and that Harper personified in her own AllAmerican career at Tennessee: non-stop effort, unselfishness, sacrifice and perseverance in the face of disappointment ��� qualities that Yow herself embodied in her battle with cancer. And then there are the fans ��� the many kids, and parents, crowding around at summer camps or after contests. Whether following a win or a loss, Kastanek will wait until every last autograph is signed or picture is taken. ���Growing up, I looked up to the girls on Nebraska���s team,��� Kastanek said. ���I never expected to be one of them. It���s just so amazing that I can have that kind of an impact on a young girl���s life.��� There are hopes for a professional career in the coming months. ���In the right situation, she brings so many positives to a team, I hope she gets the opportunity with the WNBA, or overseas,��� Harper said. But both player and coach agree that, in the end, Kastanek will find her niche making that life impact coaching at some level. ���You have to go above and beyond to really make a difference in someone���s life, and Marissa has already shown she will do that,��� Harper said. ���She is just a special, special kid ��� a winner.��� As for how NC State���s version of the Energizer Bunny would like to be remembered ��� ���Just as that hard-working kid who had time for other people,��� is Marissa Kastanek���s preference. ��� Kastanek has earned honors for her achievements both on the court and in the classroom. photo by larry blankenship 64��� ������ the wolfpacker 64-65.Marissa Kastanek.indd 64 2/26/13 1:10 PM

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