BY ROWAN SCHABERG | TABLA Camper-Intern
Mikayla Pivec is a senior at Oregon State University. She was a guest speaker and played in the exhibition game during Team Awesome Basketball Leadership Academy (TABLA)’s first year and joined us as a Junior Counselor last summer! At Oregon State (OSU), Mikayla has racked up many accomplishments, including an OSU rebounding record her senior year, All Pac-12 two years in a row, semi-finialist for the Naismith Defensive Trophy, AP All-American Honorable Mention, and many more. She also won a silver medal with Team USA in 2019 at the Pan American Games. In addition to basketball accomplishments, Mikayla has also been recognized for many academic achievements, including 2019 Academic All-America Second Team, 2018 All Pac-12 Academic First Team, and CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team in 2020. She is pursuing her Master’s degree in Biochemistry and Biophysics at Oregon State and plans on going to medical school to become a psychiatrist or pediatrician after her basketball career. On April 17th, Mikayla was drafted as the 25th pick overall by the Atlanta Dream in the 2020 WNBA Draft. She will be playing in the WNBA and then hopes to play overseas in the WNBA off-season.
Did you always know that you wanted to play basketball in college? What was the recruiting process like for you and why did you choose Oregon State University?
I didn’t always know that I wanted to play basketball in college. Growing up, I played a number of sports including softball, basketball, soccer, and cross country and track and field. I wasn’t sure that I would have the opportunity to play sports at the next level when I was growing up, but I knew that I loved basketball the most. After one game during my Sophomore year at Lynnwood High School, a coach from Seattle University offered me a scholarship to play basketball. That’s the moment when I knew I wanted to play basketball in college. The recruiting process was a long because it is a big decision and I wanted to make the best decision for me at that time. After talking with a number of college coaches, my decision came down to three schools: University of Washington, Stanford, and Oregon State. I chose Oregon State because I believed that would be the place where I could grow the most as a person and as a player. The people were extremely important to me because if I didn’t enjoy the people I was around most of the time, I wouldn’t have the best experience possible. The relationships I made with the coaches and with the people that would become my eventual teammates made the difference.
What kind of leader would you describe yourself as? How had that changed throughout your basketball career?
My leadership style is someone who leads by example and works to inspire her teammates to improve and be the best they can be. As I have grown older, my leadership style has shifted to be more vocal with my teammates. I now recognize the importance of vocally sharing with my teammates what I have learned through my experiences and giving energy to them through encouragement. Talking with them helps them know I care and makes our team better.
What was your biggest adjustment, basketball or non-basketball related, from high school to college?
The biggest adjustment for me off the court from high school to college was being away from my family for a significant period of time. My family and I are extremely close and my sister is my best friend.
On the court, the biggest adjustment for me was learning to believe in myself more consistently through discouragement and continue to have confidence even after a loss or a tough individual performance.
What are some ways that you have given back to your community?
Locally in my community I have given back and contributed by being a volunteer at a local homeless shelter called The Room At The Inn, by interacting and playing games with local youth, and by creating opportunities for student athletes at Oregon State to get involved in the community through a club a teammate and I created called Beavs C.A.R.E. A few events our club organized included a Game Night for kids similar to Chuck E Cheese where student athletes ran various carnival games to win “Beaver Bucks” to then spend at a prize booth as well as a scone making night for local homeless shelters.
What is one of your favorite TABLA memories?
One of my favorite TABLA memories was raising money via the 50/50 raffle ticket fundraiser. Our team was passionate and willing to go outside of their comfort zone to make the most of that opportunity.
What is something fun you’ve been doing in quarantine?
While in quarantine, I’ve been able to read a number of books that were sitting on my shelf, play board games with my sister, work out, and go on bike rides on a local greenbelt while keeping my social distance from others.
Congratulations to Mikayla for getting drafted! We are so proud to have you in our TABLA community!