2016 Pac-12 Women's Tournament: Mikayla Cowling's parents, Fatheads cheer on Cal's 1st-round hero
SEATTLE – Had Cal guard Mikayla Cowling looked behind her bench after hitting the biggest shot of the game, she would have seen a giant cutout of her face being proudly waved in the air by her parents.
It was impossible to miss.
Cowling was the hero of the day for Cal after nailing the game-winning and shot-clock-beating jumper with 16.8 seconds left in overtime in the Golden Bears’ 66-63 win over Utah in the first round of the 2016 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament. Her parents, Larry and Kathy Cowling, are a fixture at Cal games near and far, Fathead in tow.
“It’s so exciting to watch her play,” said Larry, who was a 1981 NCAA hurdling champion at Cal. “It’s a tremendous honor just to be here representing the Golden Bears so we’re so proud of her and what she’s done.”
The Cowlings have made it to all of Mikayla’s games her first two years at Cal except for one weekend. The Fatheads are a part of the Cal road experience, with various cutouts of Golden Bears’ faces passed around before each game.
“We have really, really good team parents. The parents of our players go through everything with us, and the Cowlings are a gift from God,” head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “I hope they’re celebrating, but I know it’s going to be about the team win, not just that Mikayla made big shots.”
Cowling finished the game with 12 points, four assists and three rebounds, sending the game to overtime by finishing a lob off a beautiful inbounds pass from her high school teammate Gabby Green and giving Cal the lead early in OT off a nifty reverse layup. She was calm and composed during crunch time for the Golden Bears, something that could at least partly be explained by the soothing presence Larry and Kathy bring.
“They’re amazing. I love them to death,” Cowling said of her parents. “Having them at every game and seeing them in the stands ... just to look at them and get that calm feeling is everything.”
Mikayla’s time at Cal is going by quickly to Larry, noting that his sophomore daughter’s Berkeley experience is nearly halfway over. With their older three daughters having wrapped up their collegiate careers (Stephanie in track and field at Cal, Dominique in volleyball at UC Riverside and Alex in basketball at LMU), Larry and Kathy want to make sure they’re there for every last moment for the baby of the bunch. While Larry would love to see her play in the WNBA or overseas, first thing’s first – get that piece of paper, Mikayla.
“The biggest thing for Mikayla is continue what she’s doing – she’s doing great in the classroom – and making sure she graduates on time with her classmates,” Larry said.
Thanks to his daughter’s heroics, the Cal season isn’t over yet, and Larry has plenty of hope for this team in Seattle and the future.
“It’s still a very young team, and I think they’re going to continue to get better and better,” he said of Mikayla’s Golden Bears. “They have a strong work ethic. They’re doing a fantastic job, they really are.”