Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Michelle Smith Oral History Interview, February 18, 2020

Oregon State University
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00:00:14 - Growing Up Outside Columbus, OH and First Basketball Experiences

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Partial Transcript: So do you want to go ahead and tell me a little bit about where you were born, what your childhood was like, your family, and other stuff like that?

Segment Synopsis: In this segment, Michelle discusses growing up in a traditional nuclear family, with one older brother just outside of Columbus, Ohio. She shares some about her childhood and high school, as well as her first exposures with basketball.

Keywords: Columbus; Ohio; basketball; brother; family; farming community; freshman year; high school; horses; media; newspapers; scholarship; sister; small community; varsity

00:01:55 - AAU Basketball and Introduction to Oregon State/Corvallis

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Partial Transcript: Do you want me to just keep going with the chronological story here?

Segment Synopsis: Michelle shares some information about her AAU team, many of whom went on to receive Division I basketball scholarships, and how dominant they were. She also goes into detail about her visit at Oregon State with a fellow teammate, and how she fell in love with Corvallis and its small town feel that reminded her of home.

Keywords: AAU; Columbus; Corvallis; McDonalds; Nike; Ohio State; Oregon State; basketball; dorms; downtown; graduated; recruiting; scholarship; senior year; small town; verbal; visits

00:03:34 - AAU Teammate at Oregon State

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Partial Transcript: So, did your AAU teammate end up coming here with you?

Segment Synopsis: Michelle tells us about coming to Oregon State with her AAU teammate. She says that they were excited, but when her teammate decided to leave due to being homesick, it wasn't the end of the world. For Michelle, it was an adventure and she wanted to stay and make the most of it.

Keywords: AAU; Central Michigan University; MAC Conference; Oregon State; adventure; home; homesick; independent; leaving; sad; teammate

00:04:27 - Ready for Adventure and Thoughts on Homesickness

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Partial Transcript: Did you ever feel homesick, or was it always exciting?

Segment Synopsis: Michelle shares her thoughts on homesickness, and how she rarely yearned for home. She embraced coming to Corvallis and Oregon State as an adventure, and as a self described "adrenaline junkie," she was up to the task of making the most of this experience. She discloses that the most homesick she ever felt was in difficult moments of this process, but that even then, it was mostly a desire for something easier or more comfortable.

Keywords: adrenaline junkie; ball handling; better; difficult; dirt bikes; dribbling; escape; farm; four wheelers; freshman; grow; guard; high school; home; homesick; horse; learning; mountains; ocean; parents; post; team

00:05:50 - Interests Outside of Basketball while Growing Up

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Partial Transcript: Were there any other interests you thought about, or was it always sort of basketball? Like did you kind of know? You talked about it a little bit.

Segment Synopsis: Michelle shares some of her other interests growing up, other than basketball. She was a very serious volleyball player, playing club for several years and receiving many Division I offers for this sport as well. She also was a talented track athlete, especially in the 400m, but found this sport to be difficult and not too enjoyable. Basketball coaches always offered her the most support, which is why she ended up pursuing a basketball scholarship at Oregon State.

Keywords: 400m; adventure; affirmation; all state; basketball; club; coaches; decathlete; grueling; hard; hindsight; horse; interests; love; mile; rewarding; running; state; track; volleyball; volleyball scholarships; words of affirmation

00:07:48 - Academic Interests, Major, and Initial Job Opportunities with Animals

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Partial Transcript: And in terms of school, what were some interests there? What did you decide to major in? And some other stuff like that.

Segment Synopsis: Michelle shares her background growing up in a family that bred dogs, and how this influenced her future academic pursuits. She decided to major in psychology, after feeling that she had a reputation for giving good advice and talking well to people, with a minor in zoology to fuel her passion for training animals, in which she had experiences with both dogs and large marine mammals at the Dolphin Research Center in Florida. Oregon State offered awesome opportunities for these areas of study. After getting married, she turned down an offer to move to Florida and take a highly coveted job at Disney's new Animal Kingdom in order to focus on her new family. She sees this as a blessing.

Keywords: Animal Kingdom; Disney; Dolphin Research Center; Florida; Hatfield Marine Science Center; Keiko; NCAA; Oregon State; advice; basketball; breeder; coach; counseling; cousins; dog training; dogs; high school; horses; husband; interests; internships; interview; junior; kids; major; marine mammal trainer; married; move; no; official visit; program; psychology; qualified; school; science; senior; small school; summer; teacher; team; theater; zoology

00:12:53 - Small High School Atmosphere and its Impact

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Partial Transcript: And you mentioned you went to a smaller school, how do you think that sort of shaped you as well? Because I went to a smaller school too, and a lot of times I feel super lucky that I did.

Segment Synopsis: Michelle went to a smaller high school, and in this segment, she touches on the impact and the benefits that going to such a school had on her, both on and off the court. She says that teenagers often feel like they get lost in the crowd, but at a small school, everybody knew everybody and she felt constant support from her community, especially with her basketball journey.

Keywords: CHS; anonymous; care; community; daughter; deciding; family; huge school; matter; power; small school; support; teachers; teenagers; varsity; volleyball

00:14:37 - Time with her Inspirational High School Athletic Director

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Partial Transcript: Before Oregon State, so like in high school or AAU, was there one person or moment that you could talk about maybe that was super inspiring for you in terms of basketball? Like a coach you had or a certain moment, anything, maybe a teammate even.

Segment Synopsis: Michelle shares that her high school athletic director was one of the most inspirational and impactful people in her basketball journey. For three years of her high school career, he had her as his assistant so that he could help guide her through the recruiting process and figure out what would truly be best for her.

Keywords: assistant; athletes; athletic director; basketball; coach; faxes; high school; junior; launch; letters; parents; phone calls; questions; recruited; senior; sophomore; study hall; supporting; team; varsity

00:17:00 - Years at OSU and Married Life

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Partial Transcript: And now a little bit more about Oregon State -- what were the years that you attended?... What was your maiden name while you played here?... How did marriage impact your college experience?... How did you and your husband meet?

Segment Synopsis: Michelle shares the years that she attended Oregon State, as well as some insight into married life as a college student. She got married the summer before her senior year to a boy she met through the men's basketball team and who also happened to be a practice player for the women's team temporarily. She went from being Michelle Estell to becoming Michelle Smith. She also shares that some of her other friends and teammates got married around the same time.

Keywords: 1999; 2003; Christmas break; Church; Lithuania; Oregon State; adult; athlete; basketball; cry; date; dorms; fall; five years; freshman; graduated; head coach; high school; husband; in the moment; loss; maiden name; married; masters; meet; practice player; responsible; support; teammate; time; trend; twins; years

00:21:04 - OSU, Then and Now

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Partial Transcript: Having stayed in Corvallis, do you notice any big differences around campus or just with Oregon State from when you went here to now?

Segment Synopsis: Michelle shares some of her views on how Oregon State and Corvallis have changed between her time as a student and now. One of the biggest differences is the new Basketball Center that was just an idea when she went here. She also talks about the constant progress and new buildings on campus.

Keywords: Basketball Center; Coach Judy Spoelstra; MU; Oregon State; black; built; campaign; campus; classrooms; coaches; drawings; farmhouse; football players; funding; history; home visit; kids; lessons; new buildings; nostalgic; orange; piano rooms; play; presentation; progressing; scooter; teammate; technology; track; varsity; wait; welcoming

00:25:33 - Corvallis, Then and Now

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Partial Transcript: And what about Corvallis in general? Any differences there?

Segment Synopsis: Michelle shares that she mostly sees Corvallis as different due to her new perspective as a parent; it seems much smaller now and she feels that she runs into many of the same people over and over again. She has met countless amazing friends in Corvallis, many of whom have used this town as a launch point and have moved to new places.

Keywords: 12; 14; Hawaii; Hoover Elementary; Indonesia; Texas; airport; close; clubs; connected; daughter; events; football; fourth grade; friends; hindsight; kids; know; launch; melting pot; parent; small; small town; son; sports; staff; work

00:27:28 - Interests Outside of Basketball while at OSU

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Partial Transcript: What about while you were here in college, sort of the social life, what were some other things outside of basketball that you liked to do here for fun?

Segment Synopsis: Michelle shares some of the other things that she got involved with at OSU outside of basketball. Not only was she the president of Poling Hall during her freshman year, where she instituted frequent karaoke nights, but she was also her senior class president. One of her other passions was going to prayer meetings or services at her local non-denominational church, where she fostered a strong community.

Keywords: Church; Poling Hall; Senior Class President; borders; close; computer science majors; dorm; freshman year; fun; gymnasts; karaoke nights; meeting; non-denominational; prayer meetings; president; school; social; spiritual family; support network; voted

00:30:12 - Life as an Oregon State Basketball Player -- Michelle's Role on the Team and Daily Life

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Partial Transcript: And now, maybe talking a little bit more about basketball while you were here. You mentioned a little bit about it, but you know position you played, some things you thought were strengths and weaknesses, sort of like what your daily life looked like too as a student athlete.

Segment Synopsis: In this segment, Michelle shares about her transition from being a high school star to becoming a valuable role player at Oregon State. She also talks about the grueling daily routine of her and her teammates, from weights to practice to film and much more.

Keywords: 3 point shooting; 3/4; God; accolades; apartments; back; big head; change; class; coaching staff; daily life; day off; exercise science; faith; film; guard; hard; hard work; high school; humbled; husband; ice bath; journey; knee; loss; media; pain; plays; post; practice; prayer meeting; pride; quickness; rebounding; recovery; rest; role; role player; screener; star; strengths; strongest; studying; teammates; training table; treatment; vision; weaknesses; weight room; weight trainer; weights; well-rounded; whirlpool

00:38:56 - Best and Worst Parts of Being a Student Athlete

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Partial Transcript: What would you say were the best parts and the worst parts of being a student athlete?

Segment Synopsis: Michelle shares some of the best parts of her life as a student athlete, including fun trips, getting to be a leader, accommodating professors, and never feeling discriminated against. Although she admits that the challenges of being a student athlete are difficult, she says it is all worth it as she believes it prepares you better than anything else for the future.

Keywords: France; Hawaii; PAC-10; SAC; accomodating; advocate; best parts; daily; discrimination; female; leaders; opportunities; professors; progressive; small school; squeezing; trips; voice; women

00:42:20 - Influential Teammates and Coach Judy Spoelstra

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Partial Transcript: How about some teammates you had while you were here, or coaches, like Judy, just a little bit more about them. I know you talked about Mandy, too. Just some people who were influential while you were here in basketball.

Segment Synopsis: Michelle reminisces about old teammates, their impact on her, and their relationships now. She also shares about how close she and Coach Judy Spoelstra were and continue to be.

Keywords: Coach Judy Spoelstra; Final Four; San Diego; alumni; amazing people; coaches; contact; keep up; kids; maiden name; moms; name change; seniors; walk-ons; women

00:47:06 - Travel Accommodations

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Partial Transcript: What were your travel plans like for basketball at the time, like plane, did you ever do charter flights? Was it always commercial? Did you ever bus to certain places?

Segment Synopsis: Michelle shares that the team primarily flew commercially to get to games. She recalls that they occasionally bussed to Seattle and to Pullman from there. She also remembers the bumpy flights to Pullman, during which the team would ask her to pray for them.

Keywords: Pullman; Seattle; WNIT; bus; charter flights; commercial flights; flying; pray; scared; successful

00:48:34 - Biggest Takeaways from Competing

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Partial Transcript: What would you say were some of your biggest takeaways from competing?

Segment Synopsis: Michelle shares her biggest takeaways from competing as a student athlete. She says that many of her lessons came in the form of what she wants her kids to be like when they compete and grow up.

Keywords: athlete; blind spots; championship; coachable; confident; criticism; gritty; hard work; journey; kids; learning; personal; team

00:50:07 - OSU Women's Basketball, Then and Now

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Partial Transcript: Are there any differences you notice with the basketball program now, like I know you went to the Alumni Night game. I know you mentioned some improvements with recovery time and the Basketball Center. Are there some other differences that you have noticed from when you played here?

Segment Synopsis: This segment features Michelle sharing a few more differences that she has noticed in OSU Women's Basketball since her time as a player within the program.

Keywords: Coach Rueck; atmosphere; coaching staff; kids; lights; positive; rose-colored glasses; wife

00:51:26 - Reasons for Staying in Corvallis after Graduation

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Partial Transcript: What made you want to stay in Corvallis after college?

Segment Synopsis: Michelle gives insight into why she decided to remain in Corvallis after college, highlighting that relationships, including her recent marriage to her husband, were the primary reason that they chose to stay.

Keywords: Corvallis; leave; life; love; married; opportunities; relationships; spiritual family

00:52:34 - Faith Life

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Partial Transcript: I know you have mentioned your faith is super important to you -- do you have any other stories from your church or how your faith life impacted your time here?

Segment Synopsis: Michelle shares how impactful her faith has been on her life, including a story involving her senior weekend games. Faith is very important to Michelle, so this segment is a great look into one of her biggest passions.

Keywords: God; WSU; Washington; atmosphere; brother; church; dad; encouragement; games; home game; journey; light; mom; role; senior; senior year; small town; special; spoke; stories; valuable; wheel

00:55:48 - Current Involvement with Oregon State

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Partial Transcript: How are you still involved with Oregon State?

Segment Synopsis: Michelle shares some of the current roles that she plays at Oregon State. She is a lifelong member of Varsity OSU due to her former presidency of the board, and she also serves as a teacher of some fitness classes at Dixon to name a few of her roles.

Keywords: Athletic Advisory Committee; Dixon; Oregon State; PAC instructor; Scott Spiegelberg; TV; Varsity OSU; active; board member; calendar; faculty/staff fitness; faith; involved; lifelong; media; meetings; mentoring; practice players; president; professional world; role; schedules; sports; student athletes; transitioning

00:59:43 - Thoughts on the Future

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Partial Transcript: Thoughts on the future, if you see yourself staying here. I know you mentioned maybe going back to dog training and stuff like that in the future, so maybe just where you see yourself.

Segment Synopsis: Michelle shares some of her thoughts on the future. She says the God and her family come first, and whatever is best for her in those relationships is where she needs to be.

Keywords: College of Public Health; God; Masters; attention; book; family; gifts; grant; influence; kids; marriage; ministry; parent; physical fitness; professional; time; writing

01:01:32 - Final Thank Yous and Shout Outs

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Partial Transcript: Anything else you want to say? Anything that I maybe didn't ask or left out?

Segment Synopsis: Michelle shares a few final thank yous and shout outs to people who helped to shape her OSU journey.

Keywords: President Ray; influence; support; teammates; women's basketball