In her four years at the University of Maryland, Kristi solidified her reputation as the nation’s most dynamic scoring point guard whose confidence enabled her to rise to the occasion in big games to hit big shots. As a freshman she cut her teeth with a young and explosively talented Maryland team that muscled their way through the ACC and into the NCAA tournament. In the waning seconds of the championship game against Duke she had the temerity to take and hit a three point shot sending the game into overtime. Led by a starting line-up of two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior, Maryland went on to become the 2006 NCAA National Champions bringing home the first title in school history.

At Maryland Kristi was surrounded by the best recruited talent in women’s college basketball and during her time there she helped establish the school as one of the most dominant and prolific programs in the country. In her junior year Kristi received the Nancy Lieberman Award, an honor bestowed upon the nation’s most outstanding point guard, and in her senior season she was named ACC Player of the Year. On top of many other national and conference accolades Kristi left Maryland as the career leader in assists, three pointers, and the school’s third-leading career scorer. Her jersey hangs in the rafters of the Comcast Center, not far from the 2006 National Championship banner. These monikers are emblematic of Kristi’s competitive drive and seemingly define a successful collegiate career, yet her debut season in the WNBA would prove to hold unexpected challenges.

When the Chicago Sky selected Kristi third overall in the 2009 WNBA draft she saw limited minutes her rookie season. From the sidelines Kristi learned several invaluable lessons paramount to her development as a professional athlete: the importance of focusing only on what you can control, of always giving 100% effort no matter the stage, the minutes, or the opponent, and to never lose faith in your ability. The limitation placed on her in-game contribution forced her focus inward.

With each successive season and year of play Kristi has consistently improved and matured – honing and developing the mental toughness required to become a more present and heady point guard. Following her season in Chicago she played in Israel with Rannana Hertzeliya and then spent two months playing for Sopronin Hungary rounding out her first overseas professional tour. Upon returning to the states in the summer of 2010 Kristi was traded by Chicago to the LA Sparks, one of the premier programs within the WNBA. Playing the next two seasons with a veteran Sparks squad she continued to learn and grow under the tutelage of some of the game’s most experienced and decorated players. In 2011 she headed to Turkey taking on more responsibility as the point guard for Samsun and competing in one of the top leagues overseas.

Back to Los Angeles in the summer of 2012 Kristi had her breakout season with the Sparks. Moving into the starting lineup she led the team in scoring, averaging 17.5 points and 4.9 assists per game and finished the summer voted 2nd Team All WNBA and the 2012 WNBA Most Improved player. Most recently Kristi joined two former Maryland teammates and played for Dynamo Moscow in the 2012-2013 season. Going up against the some of the toughest competition in the world Kristi led Dynamo to capture the 2013 Euro Cup Championship and was named Euro Cup Finals MVP.

At this point in her career Kristi has seen both ends of the spectrum when it comes to confidence. There is the brash confidence of youth, which is actually just a blind belief in the inevitability of success precisely because your ability has always met with a positive outcome. And then there is the confidence that comes after you have doubted yourself, after you have been tested, after you have tasted failure. The confidence Kristi plays with today makes her an even more dangerous competitor because it is earned and contains the sum of her successes and failures. Now she has nothing to lose by taking big shots, not because she knows they will always go in but because despite the outcome there will always be something to learn – and that’s a challenge a true competitor lives for.

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