Everyday Champion - Kirsten Tilleman

Dec. 3, 2009

Kirsten Tilleman is in her second year with the Oregon State women’s basketball team and has grown exponentially as both a basketball player and a student-athlete since coming to Corvallis prior to the 2008-09 season.

She hails from Bozeman, Mont., and was already an excellent student, averaging a 4.0 GPA throughout her tenure at Bozeman High School. She’s very interested in being ecologically responsible and has dedicated some of her studies to doing so. She is majoring in natural resources.

Read further to learn about the 6-foot-1 forward from Montana.

Q: What interested you most about OSU when going through the recruiting process?
Kirsten Tilleman: “Really for me, it was more of the whole package deal because I am not only just about the athletics; I do give everything I have to that, but I am also looking to grow as a person, too. I really liked the programs that Oregon State had to offer, the area that it is in. My major is Natural Resources so this is the prime area for that. Coach Wagner is also a people-centered coach who not only focuses about how we perform on the court, but who we are as people and how we perform in the classroom. All of those things made it the reason why I wanted to be a part of all of that.”

Q: What is so interesting to you about natural resources?
Kirsten Tilleman: “I grew up in Montana and I came to really appreciate the natural world around me. I wanted to do something with that. I am not exactly sure what kind of job I want; if it places me on the science side or more on the social side. I am really enjoying my classes right now and I figure things will fall into place that way.”

Q: How do you compare Bozeman to Corvallis?
Kirsten Tilleman: “They both are very similar by being college towns; the community really supports the college by seeing stuff everywhere representing the school. When you even go to the store you might see someone you know or someone who recognizes you from the team.”

Q: Could you ever see yourself living in a big city?
Kirsten Tilleman: “I could see myself maybe living in a big city in the beginning of my career to get that experience, but the only city I could see myself living in is Seattle. I could also see myself trying the whole European thing, because of the different experience.”

Q: Tell me a little bit about the recycling program you have started working on?
Kirsten Tilleman: “I have talked to (Oregon State Athletic Director) Bob De Carolis about recycling more in Gill Coliseum and getting something more permanent there. While the renovations are going on, I am hoping during the Christmas time we can get something going on in each one of the four corners in Gill to improve the recycling.”

Q: Once this happens, how will it make you feel?
Kirsten Tilleman:  It will be something to celebrate because I feel like athletics is definitely a community within a college, but I do not know if many people see us as environmentally cautious people. I think that even something as simple as making the recycling here at Gill will make a very big impact. I believe we are the leading university with recycling and sustainability, so I would like to show that the athletics supports that, too.”

Q: Being an athlete, is it more important to you to make an impact in the community and campus?
Kirsten Tilleman: I certainly do. I actually like to do things when people don’t know that I am an athlete until after I do it. Yes, I do play on the women’s basketball team, but I also want people to see me as a regular individual who does things just for the sake of the people.”

Q: Being here for a year and a half, along with women’s basketball, how have you seen yourself grow?
Kirsten Tilleman: “Over the time that I have been here, I find myself being independent and I feel like I have grown a lot since last year. Comparing to last year, I was just learning the ropes, to now this year, I am coming into the year more established and making an impact in community and not only on the court.”

Q: How do you find yourself being a leader this year?
Kirsten Tilleman: “Even though I am only a sophomore, I feel like the stuff you learn and how you grow in one year of college in athletics is incredible. My basketball coach in high school said that one year in college is equal to four years in high school. I agree with that completely, and even say it’s more of a change because of the situations you are put in.”

Q: How has Coach Wagner influenced you as a player and your development?
Kirsten Tilleman: “Coach Wagner really demands a lot from you, and she will only push you when she knows you are able to be pushed. She really believes in making you grow not only as a player but also as an individual. She is there to really challenge you. Every day in practice she puts all of us in difficult situations that are going to be much more difficult than during a game so we are prepared for that which makes us excel in those areas.”

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