The women’s basketball team (4-1, 0-0 Ivy) traveled to California to win the Pacific’s Turkey Tip-Off Tournament over the weekend. After taking down Hampton University 73-66, Brown advanced to the finals to beat the hosting University of California at Berkeley 74-57. Co-captain forward Erika Steeves ’19 registered her first double-doubles of the season in the tournament, scoring a total of 26 points and collecting 33 rebounds over the weekend.
For her back-to-back double-doubles and achieving a personal-best 19 rebounds in one game, Steeves was named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.
Herald: Congratulations on winning the Pacific’s Turkey Tip-Off Tournament! How did the victory feel?
Steeves: Thank you! It was amazing. We knew it was two really big games, and so it was a momentum shift for us.
When did you first start playing basketball?
When I was seven or eight years old. My brother was a basketball player and so was my dad. I started playing with both of them. My dad was my coach for a while. I’m from Canada, so I went to prep school for basketball and soccer and academics. My brother went with me too — he’s 15 months older — so he left to play at Harvard for four years, and I ended up here.
When did you first really get into basketball?
I was a big sports person in general growing up, and when I went to prep school, we had to play two sports. I did soccer, basketball, and I ran track. I was a sophomore, I got a big concussion playing soccer, and I decided to stop, and I think that’s the time I went more towards basketball.
Has your family played a large role in developing your relationship with basketball?
It definitely helps that my brother is 6’7” and I’m 6’2”. So when people look at us, they’re like, ‘Volleyball or basketball family?’ And we had a basketball hoop growing up in our backyard, and so every time I came home from school, I’d be like, ‘Oh, let’s go shoot hoops!’ And it was never a serious workout, it was always just a fun thing. So I think it’s really when I got to prep school, that I really noticed the seriousness of it. Before that, it was always, ‘Aw, let’s go hang out with my brother and play basketball!’ They never pushed me into it. I easily could have been playing volleyball or soccer, but we’re a basketball family.
Was it always a goal to participate in college athletics?
It became a goal when I got to prep school, and I saw everyone around me striving towards that, and it was really motivating to me to see my brother go play at Harvard. He unfortunately tore his ACL and was out for three years, so when I was trying to get recruited, he was talking to me about it, and he was like, ‘If you get the chance to play at an Ivy League school, you can’t pass it up.’ I’m from Canada, I didn’t know anything about recruiting, I didn’t play (Amateur Athletic Union). I played for Team Québec back home, and I initially had no idea how to even go about talking to coaches. So my senior year, I reached out to a few coaches, I sent a few highlights, and they were like, ‘We’re really interested, but we’re filled, we have everybody,’ because I was a little late. I was kind of bummed. I got a few Division III offers, did a few different visits, which were awesome, but eventually I decided I wanted to play Division I basketball and I took a post-grad year at Phillips Exeter. I had a great year, had a great summer of playing AAU, got a few offers, and then was so happy I committed to Brown.
Why did you choose Brown?
When I first came here I loved it. It was beautiful out, and when the coach reached out to me, that’s the first thing that I remembered. I was like, ‘It was so pretty.’ I didn’t commit for that, obviously. I had a five-school tour planned out, four Ivies and one Patriot League school, and Brown was the first one I visited. I spent the day here and went out to lunch with the coaches, met a few of the girls, and then I committed that day. I called all the other schools and I was like, ‘Uh, I’m sorry, I’m committed. Awkward. I was supposed to come to you tomorrow, but I’m not.’ I think it was just a feel for the place, the coaching staff, the team, and it’s kind of like the cheesy, ‘When you get here, you just know.’
What’s the best part about being a member of the basketball team?
I think that as a culture, we’ve really changed. My freshman year I came in, it was a lot about playing time, and I think there was a lot of tension on the team, but as a culture, throughout my three years here and with the new coach, it’s just become actually a family. And I never really thought that that would be real. Because everybody says it, ‘It’s your second family,’ but I actually just spent American Thanksgiving in San Francisco with my team, my coaches, and it was really like a family Thanksgiving. One of my teammates, (Shayna Mehta ’19), her family opened up their home to us, and it was really fun. It was such a great atmosphere.
How is the team feeling as tournament and out of league play starts shifting towards Ivy League play?
I think we’re all excited. We also feel like every game that we play in the preseason is really getting us ready for the Ivy League, which ultimately is the biggest part of our season. But these games are also really important. For example, this past tournament, we had some freshmen step up, a sophomore come off the bench and hit two huge threes. We just know we have a lot of girls that can participate, help us out, and we are more of a veteran team now, so I think that going into Ivy play, we’re definitely really excited to rely on our veterans and rely on our leadership and honor seniority and know that it’ll help us out when we get to the big, fourth-quarter-tie-game kind of thing.
Do you have any aspirations post-college to play professionally or for Team Canada?
I definitely want to eventually play for Team Canada — it’s one of my goals. I think I might also want to play pro, but overseas. My first language is French, so I feel like if I were to play, you know, France or West of Switzerland or something like that, where they do speak French, that would be really cool. And I’m studying international-relations/econ, and I think it would be interesting to play overseas and either get a job on the side or continue my studies there because I could mix both of my worlds up there.
The Bears will take the courts at Providence College on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 12:00 p.m.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.