This article was created by the Haas Blog’s newest member Nathan Tudhope.
Haas undergrads can be described as a lot of things. One of the few things that can unify all of us is that we are busy in our own niche. Something that only one person at Haas can lay claim to, is being on the Women’s Basketball team here at UC Berkeley. I had the unique privilege of sitting down with the first ever Women’s basketball player (of her caliber of play) to be admitted to Haas, Talia Caldwell.
Talia is originally from Los Angeles, California, and has been playing basketball her whole life.She is coming off of a summer internship at Nike, and will likely be drafted into the WNBA this month, where she will begin her professional career. All this has not stopped her from achieving success in the classroom at Haas. Talia’s story confirms a lot of the competitive connections between academics and athletics, and she openly plans to continue with her business education and career after her basketball career comes to a close.
Talia has had a standout season for the Golden Bears with 7 double doubles, helping Cal to a 33-3 Overall record, with only one conference loss. She was 4th in scoring for the bears, averaging 26 minutes per game. This is the first ever Pac-12 Championship, as well as their first final four appearance. The stats go on, but what really stood out to me was Talia’s great attitude towards Haas, playing Division one basketball, and the connection between the two.
Talia, what have you thought of Haas so far?
I am having a lot of fun. The curve makes it very competitive, so I can continue to compete even off of the court. The competitive energy is really great here. Everyone is driven and focused, so you really need to bring you’re A-game each day. Between this and basketball the competition is constant and I really thrive on it.
I was not aware during the application process. It wasn’t until the fall when I had started Haas that someone told me. Some people know it, and some people don’t but it has never been a big thing for me. I don’t like to mix the two completely. I am the same person, but when I am at Haas, I am a Business undergrad, and when I am on the court, I am a basketball player. When people recognize me for sports it’s great and I really appreciate it, but in the classroom I am a student.
So, your father is a two-time super bowl champion, were you raised competitively? How has that affected your basketball and your education?
I was so young when I first realized it that it never really affected me, much. That was what he did as a profession so it was never really a big thing for us at home. He was actually always asking me how school was going. The only reason my parents signed me up for basketball was because I liked it, and wanted to play more of it. I was lucky not to have been pressured into anything, so I really ended up doing what I loved.
I always played basketball in High School because I liked it and I was good at it. I also always knew that I would go to college. It really clicked when I started getting letters my junior year as the recruitment window opened. I thought to myself, ‘I guess I am going to play college basketball!’ I went to junior day at Cal, and I knew a few players and coaches here at Cal. I knew that I wanted to study business from a young age so I went home and took a look at Cal’s business program. They were ranked third in the Nation at that time. Nobody else on the list had a good basketball team, so the choice became a simple one!
You have had a great season both as a team and individually, how has that been, given this is your senior season?
It has been amazing. Along the way we never really saw it as a big thing, each game was individual, but when we look back, we know we have done a lot. 23-3 is a great record and when people bring it up we sometimes get surprised along with them.
How has it been taking Haas classes while playing a sport?
I have been lucky to be able to take classes in the summer, and spread out my quantitative classes. It gets really tough when we are traveling. We are gone for a few days, and then only get a day or two back before leaving again. We are always on the road, which can get really hard. We have a great support system so if we stay organized, we can get our work done.
What has been the Haas defining principle that has resonated most with you?
Mine would definitely be ‘beyond yourself.’ Sometimes we all get tunnel vision you know? People look at themselves as just athletes, or students, or employees, and we need to be more than that. A lot of times at the college level people try to be great at one thing, which can come at the expense of giving back, being a good friend, and thinking about others. In that case you are not really helping anyone, you are just moving yourself forward. Thinking about ‘beyond yourself’ is a great reminder in all areas of your life.
I am considering the WNBA. The draft is coming up, and I just sent in some paperwork for that. I will be playing basketball either here or in Europe. After that I want to pursue and MBA, and maybe go back to Nike. I did an internship at Nike last summer and I loved the environment. It is a great company, which operates in an industry that I am interested in. I could really see myself going back there.
I would like to personally thank Talia for meeting with me. Haas can be a stressful place, but you would never think it when talking with Talia. She smiles ear to ear, and really brings everything into perspective. If she can do it while traveling, playing, and preparing for the WNBA draft, then we all should be able to manage.
Her story is another great example of a Haas student doing big things outside of the classroom. She will surely make us very proud in the WNBA, however we all know that she will always be a Golden Bear. Go Bears and Go Talia! Good luck in the NCAA Final Four!