Roper signs with WNBA Monarchs
By Misty Volaski
Christen Roper, who starred for
Nordhoff's girls' basketball team during the late 1990s and later
for the University of Hawaii, is taking the next step. Though
she's still finishing up her classwork and finals, she's relocated
to Northern California this week, where she's trying out with
the WNBA's Sacramento Monarchs.
"It's very exciting just to be able to get this chance,"
Roper said after practice Monday. "It's just a good experience
all the way around."
Standing 6 feet, 5 inches, Roper played center in high school
and in college, where she set several records on the defensive
end. Her 110 blocks in her senior season helped her to set University
of Hawaii school records for blocks per game, blocks in a season,
and blocks for a career. She also holds the career Western Athletic
Conference record for blocked shots.
She "very much" considers herself primarily a defensive
player but says training camp with the Monarchs has provided
a wonderful opportunity to expand her skills.
She said she's working hard to develop more of an offensive game
at a brand new position. "It's still something I'm learning,
still something I need a lot of improvement in," said Roper.
In Sacramento, she's been working out against different defenders
and practicing game situations in scrimmages.
She said it's all very team-oriented
so far and that she's got a simple focus. "You just concentrate
on what you need to improve on."
Now she's being asked to play power forward and the pressure
is on her to handle the ball more and provide more of a perimeter
"Up here I've been playing a lot of four spot, which is
new to me. But I'm doing the best I can at it," she said.
In the past, coaches specifically told her not to dribble, to
let smaller players handle the ball. "Now I have to excuse
all that out of my head and do whatever they tell me," she
said. "You just do it, you don't really think."
Everybody in camp has signed a contract but Roper said it isn't
like the NBA, where salaries are guaranteed. "I'm not guaranteed
anything," she said. "I can get cut anytime coach feels
like it." The roster will be trimmed to 11 players by Sunday
but Roper said she isn't feeling any pressure. There are plenty
of alternatives, should she not make the squad.
She talked about trying to get on with another team and playing
overseas. "I'm ready to keep playing, that's for sure,"
she said. "There's girls on the team right now that are
30, 35 years old. They've told me, 'You've got 10 more years
of basketball in you.' It's about your desire."
She says she could come back and play in the Ojai Recreation
League with her sister, as she's done for the past four years,
at any time. For now, she's going to pursue her dream.
She says one thing that helps is the support she's received from
people in Ojai and Hawaii and from her teammates in Sacramento.
"Everybody up here is really awesome," Roper said.
"It doesn't matter if you're drafted, an invitee, or been
here for a while. Everybody's just really nice."
The Ojai Valley News
to the news
DAD BOB ROPER places another flower lei around Christen's neck
at the University of Hawaii's Senior Night.