Block-Happy Greer a Force in the Middle
by Ryan Reiswig
When you hear of a child learning golf at the remarkably young age of two, it reminds you of great golfers like Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie.
You'd expect them to play through high school and become fantastic college and maybe even pro players. However, when an athlete is as talented as Oregon State's El Sara Greer is in other sports, those golf clubs may be left collecting cobwebs in the garage.
"I started golfing when I was two," says Greer, a native of Waterloo, Iowa. "I had the little set and everything when I was small, the little Fisher Price one. I played all through elementary and middle school and into the ninth grade."
The Beavers are certainly very happy Greer's golf career ended after lettering in the sport her freshman year of high school.
Greer, a senior forward on Oregon State's women's basketball team, is climbing OSU's record books in just her second season with the team after transferring from Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. With ten more blocked shots Greer will become OSU's all-time single-season leader in blocks, in addition to averaging nearly a double-double for the season.
While attending Waterloo High School in Waterloo, Iowa, Greer was a multi-sport star. Along with basketball, Greer lettered in golf, track and field, and volleyball. While she enjoyed track and field the most, she thought about her future when deciding which sport to play at the collegiate level.
"I could've played any sport actually," explains Greer. "I chose basketball because you could go the furthest with it. You don't have too much going on after college with track and field and volleyball."
Upon graduating from high school, Greer enrolled at Kirkwood CC where she honed her basketball skills, ultimately preparing for a career at the Division-I level. During her two years at Kirkwood, her team lost only six games and won two national championships. When deciding about where to "take her talents" (à la LeBron James), Greer was attracted to Oregon State for a specific reason.
"It's in the Pac-10, big time play," says Greer on her choice to attend OSU. "You wouldn't want to settle for anything, you want to play at the highest level you can."
Moving 2,000 miles west to the Corvallis, Ore., campus was not an easy thing to do. However, Greer's family has been behind her every step of the way.
"I know that they're always there supporting me in whatever I do, and I love that they fully support me and are 100 percent behind me," says Greer. "That gives me motivation everyday to play my best."
The motivation is working. On top of approaching the single-season record for blocks in a season, Greer is also threatening the record for all-time blocks in a career at OSU, currently eighth on the list. For somebody as Dikembe Mutombo-like in blocking shots as Greer is, you'd think she practiced at it and made it the focal point of her game. Not Greer.
"I'm just tall, I guess," says Greer. "I really don't know. I've never really practiced doing it or anything. I only played volleyball my last two years of high school so it's not like I got it from volleyball or anything."
Even with Greer's personal success this season, the Beavers aren't experiencing team-wide success in the win-column. With two-thirds of the team being underclassmen, there's bound to be a learning curve.
"We can't finish out games," explains Greer. "If you look at our stats, we've been losing games by under ten points. We need to play the full 40 and not play 35 or 30 minutes."
Having a seasoned player who has won championships before, and knows what it takes to win on the collegiate level, OSU is lucky Greer is there to lead the Beavers the remainder of the season. Playing on a team not experiencing the desired level of success is something new to Greer, but she knows how to keep her teammates focused and playing hard.
"You should play with all your heart every single minute because you never know when it'll be your last game," Greer says. "Basketball is a contact sport, you can go down the wrong way, and it could be the end of your season. You don't want to have any regrets left on the floor. Play with all your heart, it doesn't matter if you're playing forty or two minutes [per game]. Come out and play your hardest."