Forty-three years ago, Mike Strand and the University of Puget Sound Loggers beat University of Tennessee-Chattanooga 83-74 and won the NCAA Division II men’s basketball national championship. Fast forward to 2019, and freshman forward Julia Strand is carrying on her father’s legacy through the Chapman University women’s basketball team, averaging 10.5 points per game and shooting 49 percent from the field. Strand, a 6-foot forward, scored the women’s season high with 22 points against Whittier College Jan. 5.
“(Julia) really cares about being the best player she can be. She is committed to her teammates,” Mike Strand said. “I coached her in elementary and middle school. She was always one of the tallest girls and she had this uncanny ability to make plays.”
Julia Strand, a business administration major, said when she first came to Chapman it was a huge change for her both on and off the court.
“I was stepping out of my comfort zone, since I didn’t know anyone coming here. All my friends back home went to schools in Washington,” Strand said. “Basketball really helped with the transition. I started to have a routine and I made some really good friends on the team.”
Strand played at Shorecrest High School in Shoreline, Washington, as a shooting guard and small forward.
Growing up, Strand said she didn’t watch professional basketball, but instead looked up to basketball players in her own community.
“When I was really young in elementary school, we would always go to (the local basketball) games,” Strand said. “Those girls were an inspiration to me.”
Strand said she looked up to Brianne Lasconia, who also graduated from Shorecrest High School. When strand tore her ACL, she said Lasconia reached out to her.
“When I tore my ACL my junior year, (Lasciona had already) torn her ACL twice,” Strand said. “When I was younger, having her contact me made me feel OK after it happened.”
Out of 25 games played in the winter season, 16 of them conference games, Strand has started eight. She has played 594 minutes in total.
“I came off the bench and tried to help my teammates spark something. I don’t focus on scoring,” Strand said. “I focus more on defense and helping my teammates get the ball.”
In Chapman’s game against Redlands University Feb. 9, Strand scored ten points, helping the team win 60-52. After a victory, the Panthers lost in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) 75-62 Feb. 21 against Pomona-Pitzer University, with Strand scoring six points.
“We are very lucky to have her. I know she had a lot of different avenues she could have went to play basketball,” said head coach Carol Jue. “She surprised a lot of people in the league, even us. She’s working. She’s still a freshman, but she’s done some really nice things.”
Growing up, Strand’s family was one of the reasons she got into playing sports, she said. From fourth grade, Strand has been playing basketball, and she doesn’t want to stop.
“It was definitely my dad and my family (that got me into sports),” Strand said. “We were a basketball family and (my dad) got me into it. I ended up really enjoying it.”