At Centercourt



Join the Club


Past articles:
  • L.A. wins draft lottery post-sesason report card

  • WNBA '07 post-sesason report card

  • WNBA '07 awards

  • WNBA '07 mid-sesason report card

  • The 2007 Young All-American Team

  • WNBA 2007 draft preview

  • Phoenix wins 2007 draft lottery

  • 2006 WNBA season wrap-up

  • New Wave of Talent in WNBA

  • The 2006 Young All-America Team

  • 2005-06 College Awards

  • Academic All-America Teams

  • Candace Parker's Comeback

  • 2005 WNBA Season wrap-up

  • 2004-05 College Awards

  • Stanford walk-on Markisha Coleman

  • 2004 WNBA Awards

  • 'BEEF' up your shooting!

  • Gball's Players of the Year

  • UConn's two freshmen

  • Gball's 2003-04 All-Americans

  • Leslie repeats as Player of the Year

  • 2002-03 NCAA Awards

  • Sophia Young

  • WBCA All Stars

  • NWBL Draft

  • The Burge Twins

  • 2002 WNBA Successes

  • Title IX's 35th Anniversary

  • The 2002 High School State Champs

  • The 2002 Gball Awards

  • Being Recruited

  • Protecting Your Knees

  • Candace Parker dunks!

  • Michigan Playoff Results

  • WNBA Teen Advisory Board

  • St. Ann's girls' team

  • Leslie Gball's Player of the Year

  • Hitting the last-second shot

  • Scholarships,
    Part I

  • Scholarships,
    Part II

  • Improving Agility

  • From Port Wing to Madison: Jolene Anderson shines for Wisconsin
    By Megan Sims Kelley

    Jolene Anderson's accomplishments read more like a novel than a list. When scanning the record of all-time leaders in the UW-Madison women's basketball program her name jumps off the page: Scoring: Anderson. Rebounding: Anderson. Assists: Anderson. Steals: Anderson. The list goes on and on, and she will likely add several more records by the end of this season.
    Jolene Anderson
    Anderson is an All-American candidate who has been the Badgers' leading scorer since her freshman year. Over the summer she won her fourth-straight gold medal at the World Basketball Championships and was named a 2007 Kodak/WBCA District IV All-American.

    For Anderson, basketball and family are inextricably linked. Her mom and aunt were on the same team in high school. Both of them, and her father, coached Anderson in grade school. Jolene teamed with her older sister for three years of high school basketball. Her younger sister, Janice, is now a starter in junior high school.

    As the middle child, Jolene sometimes had a tenuous relationship with her older sister, Jennifer. "She was always perfect," confides Anderson. "She got straight A's while I had to work for every A I got. She was my enemy, but I still loved her the same."

    Anderson's mother, Julie, has been an important role model not only because she played collegiate basketball, but because she was one of Jolene's first coaches. "She's my strongest influence," Jolene shared. "I talk to her every day. She's been there for me through the good times and bad."

    Selected memorabilia are displayed throughout the Anderson household, but the majority of Jolene's honors are kept in seven, 4-inch binders that are protected in a fireproof safe. "We have pictures, articles; whatever we can get our hands on, really," Julie Anderson said.

    The Anderson girls grew up 350 miles from Madison, on what once was the family's dairy farm in Port Wing, Wisconsin. Jolene's basketball career began by shooting lay-ups and free throws with her sisters against a hoop on the family barn.

    "Whether it was winter or snow, I just went out there to shoot in order to get better," Anderson said. Her talent was apparent when she continuously beat boys during middle school games, but nobody assumed she would go very far.

    "Being from such a small town, people thought she wouldn't be offered a scholarship to play at a Big Ten school. But we always thought that if she's good enough they'll find her no matter where she's at," her mother said.

    The Anderson family always stressed the importance of teamwork. Whether it was taking care of their farm or helping one another with homework, the sisters were always there for each other.

    Jolene's passion for basketball was often a bonding tool for the entire family. Her father recalls a time when "Jolene needed to practice her free throws so then my wife and I went out to shoot free throws, and soon our whole family was out there shooting free throws."

    So, it is no surprise that Anderson's number-one priority on the court is to help her team succeed.

    "I don't set many individual goals; they just happen when they come. As long as the team wins, I'm happy with that," Anderson said.

    "Looking at the scoreboard and having everyone in the scoring column is just great for our program, great for your basketball team. That's my main focus going into a game, trying to get everyone to score a bucket," Anderson said.

    Such humility is surprising from an athlete who has so many accolades. Anderson regularly credits her two sisters and parents for her success.

    "My parents always said that you're not better than anybody else in the world," Anderson said. "Even if you're more gifted than other people, it doesn't make you better than them."

    When Jolene escapes to Port Wing she likes to keep to herself. "When she comes home she doesn't like to go places where the attention is on her," her mother shared. Jolene acknowledges that going unnoticed is a little more difficult in a town that has a population of 250 people. That's because the residents pride themselves on knowing everything about the athletic accomplishments of what her father calls a "hometown girl." In this small community, like others, everybody knows everybody.

    "Strangers will stop at our local store and ask directions to our house. People will take pictures of where I grew up," Anderson said. "If someone asks for an autograph, I'm willing to give it to them. If it's going to make someone's day happier, then I'm happy with that."

    Giving credit to her coaches and teammates, Anderson said she transitioned easily from a graduating class of 32 to a university of 40,000 students. Anderson admits that she did not expect to assume a leadership role her first year on the team. But she was willing to take on anything.

    "It wasn't something that I asked for. I just had to do whatever it took for me to succeed, as well as the team."

    Anderson has worked as much on her leadership skills as on her free throws. Aware that she's not the loudest player on the team, Anderson focuses on leading by example. Because of her influence, she is willing to push herself in order to help her teammates.

    "I'm willing to work hard every day, whether I'm having a bad day or not, because if I give 100 percent then the rest of the team will do it, too. If I take a day off, if I take a minute off during a game, the whole team will think it's time to rest," Anderson said.

    With over a dozen women playing basketball for Wisconsin, "at least two people are bound to have a bad day at the same time. I have to be a leader. Hopefully, if Janese (Banks, a UW guard) catches on, then that's two of us, and eventually it will lead to all five of us on the court. So it just starts with me. I just have to be ready all the time," Anderson said.

    Banks, known as the more vocal leader on the team, said that "Jolene has taught me that sometimes you just have to lead by example. You don't have to say anything."
    Jolene Anderson

    Anderson's presence is the heart of the Badger team. "Jolene was gone this past summer at the World Basketball Championship in Russia. After she returned, I realized that a huge part of our team had been missing," freshman teammate Alyssa Karel said. "She's someone I look up to and was a big motivating factor for me to play at Madison."

    Although Anderson does not consider herself a natural-born leader, she is admired not only by her peers, but also by her younger sister, Janice.

    Her mother recalls, "When Jan used to be a cheerleader, Jolene told her she didn't want to see her cheerlead -- she wanted her to play basketball instead. And ever since then, that's what Jan's been doing."

    Anderson's athletic talents are not limited to basketball. In high school she played three years of volleyball and ran four years of track. She was initially recruited to run track at UW-Lacrosse before she signed with UW-Madison. Anderson may be extraordinary on the basketball court, but in many ways she can relate to the average college student.

    "I love 'The Hills.' It's one of my all-time favorite television shows," she said. Anderson also plays five musical instruments, collects remote control cars, and is extremely superstitious.

    "When I put on my uniform I have to start with my left side, then go to my right. My left sock, left leg, left arm have to go on first." Anderson also admits that for games "my hair has to be perfect. It has to be straight, in a bun, with gel and hair spray. If someone hits it then I get mad and have to re-fix it at halftime."

    Although this athlete is no average Jo, her outstanding success "is just something that goes on the back burner." She admits that she's a little surprised by her career.

    "I'll think about it after this year when I have time to sit back and reflect on my career from tiny Port Wing to being so successful here at Wisconsin. But right now I'm just enjoying the ride."

    Despite all her accomplishments, Anderson admits that she has considered throwing in the towel.

    "The thought has run through my mind, but I've never sat down with my parents and told them I wanted to quit." What is Anderson's motivation that keeps her lacing up her shoes time and time again?

    "I never had a backup plan of what I would do with my life if I decided to quit." But the support of her parents and sisters has been an enormous help along the way.

    Winning four US gold medals and breaking school records is all in a day's work for this senior shooting guard.

    "It's just another day. If I break a record, it's just another one. You still have to go to sleep and wake up. It's gets put in the back of my mind. It's something that 20 years from now I'll look back and say, 'wow,' but it's nothing that stands out right now."

    What's next for this future UW hall-of-famer? That would be the possibility of reaching her highest goal of playing in the WNBA. Although Anderson is expected to be a top pick draft in April, she is hesitant to discuss her future.

    "It's a tremendous honor to know that my hard work will pay off. The money would be great, but I don't care about that. It's just the game that I love to play. Until then I've got to enjoy life at Wisconsin," Anderson said.

    Leading by example, helping others succeed, being loyal to the family, and living every day to its fullest. These are the values that senior Jolene Anderson has given to her sisters and to the Wisconsin women's basketball program.

    Megan Sims Kelley is a journalism student at UW-Madison




    Back to Top
    Back to Home

    For your protection and privacy, always check with your parent or guardian before sending personal information over the Internet.

    Copyright © 2007 MomentumMedia: e-mail info@gballmag.com