Julia Strand sets scoring mark at Chapman

Monday, March 21, 2022

Photo by Larry Newman courtesy Chapman University Women's Basketball

Julia Strand (Shorecrest ’18) set the Chapman University women’s basketball single-season record by averaging 22.7 points this season. The senior also gobbled up 11.2 rebounds per game, the first female player in school history to achieve a ‘double-double’. Her 22.7 points per game ranked her fifth on this year’s NCAA Division-3 scoring list.

She was named to the first team All-SCIAC (the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) as well as making the NCAA’s All Region-10 team (encompassing schools from Washington, Oregon, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Colorado, and California).

But what makes her story so remarkable is the three (3!) knee surgeries she worked through and overcame along the way.

Strand was a match-up nightmare for most teams. A lanky six-footer, she frequently was matched up against taller (and slower) players. Her lightning-fast first step to the hoop created many driving layups, and when defenders would back off, she possessed a silky-smooth jumper. Pick your poison. She ran the court as gracefully as a gazelle, her long legs inhaling ground as she was frequently the first one down the court, able to score on a layup.

More importantly, she was an ideal leader. When the team broke huddles, it was her arm to be raised first to bring her team together. On the occasions when she wasn’t in the game, she was the first to cheer on a teammate who’d just made a good play. When the Panthers were eliminated in the conference semifinals, all the young players came to her in tears, thanking her for her kindness and all she had done for them.

After being the leading scorer for the Scots' only State Championship team as a sophomore in 2016, Strand tore her ACL in the second game of her junior year, missing the remainder of the season. Through hard work and determination (a theme that would be repeated all too often), she was able to return to action her senior year, first for Coach Mindy Dalziel’s soccer Scots in the fall, and then that winter Strand led the Scots’ basketball team back to the State Tournament in the Tacoma Dome.

Her freshman season at Chapman saw her start 8 games and average 10.5 ppg, and she was scoring 15.1 a game when she tore her ACL once again, midway through her sophomore season.

Quitting was an option.

But after much soul-searching, she decided to inflict upon herself the many lonely and painful hours, days, and weeks of rehab required for her to play again in the 2020-2021 season…..a season that never happened due to COVID.

As preparations began in the gym for this season, that same left knee was barking at her pretty badly. After x-rays and an MRI showed the cause of the pain, she underwent her third knee operation in November, mere days before the start of the season.

Once, again, quitting was an option. But then again, it wasn’t, really.

“After my injury my sophomore year and our season being canceled last year, it’s made me realize just how much I love playing and how much I want to be out there my last year,” Strand said at the time. 

Photo courtesy Chapman University
Women's Basketball
Strand missed the first eight games this season. When she was able to return, the game plan was to ease her back, to limit her playing time to 5-7 minutes. In her first game back, she played 20 minutes and scored 18 points coming off the bench. She played one more game as a substitute before Coach Carol Jue was able to unleash the beast who wound up etching her name into the Chapman record books.

She earned the respect of teammates and opponents alike.

Her teammates named her captain before the season began, not knowing for sure if she’d even be able to play.

In one game, she scored 12 first quarter points against a fellow first-team all-SCIAC foe, causing that player to grudgingly observe as they ran down the court together, “I can’t guard you for (bleep).”

After the season was over and she had time to reflect on her four years at Chapman, Strand shared her thoughts.

“When I stepped into the Chapman gym for the first time, I was excited to continue playing basketball and I was excited to make new friends at the beginning of a new chapter in life. I would have never guessed what would happen next. I never had an expectation that I was going to get awards, or score the most points, or any of that. I just wanted to simply have fun with my teammates.
"I would have never in a million years thought that my college basketball career would be like this. A second ACL surgery, a year canceled due to a global pandemic, then another knee surgery days before the first game of my senior year, and then all of this? It’s crazy to think about.
“This game has given me more heartache and more joy than anything else in life. It’s hard to believe that through all of the tears and anguish that I’ve experienced playing this sport, that I got this far.

"And even through everything I’ve been through while playing… I still wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve learned some of life’s most valuable lessons through the process, and have met some of the best people on the planet.

"You can’t replicate or describe the feeling of being out there on the court. It’s something that will forever hold a very special piece of my heart.”
Julia will graduate from Chapman in May with a degree in Business Administration. Whoever hires her straight out of college will get a tireless worker, a team player, and a real winner.

Chapman is located in the city of Orange, smack dab in the heart of Orange County, California.

--Sports desk


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