January 31, 2013

Hard work and perseverance have paid off for Owunna

The Right Fit
While some high school seniors may not choose to commit to a school right away, senior forward Katarina Owunna knew immediately that CUA was the right fit for her.

"I came down for a visit and committed the same day," Owunna says on the decision to attend CUA.

CUA women's basketball's all-time winningest coach Matt Donohue has nothing but glowing reviews for the 2012 All-Landmark Conference Second Team post player.

"She came into CUA as an incredibly gifted and intelligent athlete, but her growth and development has been unbelievable. To watch her become one of the top post players in our conference is truly a testament to her work ethic and desire to improve."

Growth, Development, and Leadership
Owunna realizes the improvement that she has made on the floor as well.  From her freshman year to now, she has doubled her average in scoring and almost doubled her productivity on the glass. A lot of this is a credit to her work off the floor in off-season conditioning.

"My freshman year, I was barely able to run up and down the floor for three minutes at a time," Owunna admits. "My conditioning and maturity level has increased greatly, which has allowed me to become a better player."

Along with Donohue, Owunna's peers also give her high praise for Owunna's work on and off the floor.

"Kat is a powerful post player," says Jenny McGann, a fellow senior and one of the 13th ranked Cardinals' captains. "It's great to know that when she's out there I can rely on her to get rebounds and to make the tough plays inside."

Owunna is not only just a strong post player but has become one of the leaders of the team as well. Freshman center Josie Migash credits Owunna with making her a better player already, through just three months of competition during practice.

"Kat makes me work hard and brings the best play out of me," Migash explains. "These are unique characteristics to find in a senior teammate and I appreciate her for making me a better player."

"Princess"
Owunna owns one title that not many student-athletes can claim: "Princess."

Owunna's father is the chief of a tribe in Nigeria. Ever since she was in high school, Owunna has traveled with her family to visit her father every year at Christmas. Owunna doesn't focus on the title however, instead she talks about what's she's learned from the trips.

"Going back to Nigeria every year is quite unique for me. To witness the different cultures and traditions that exist there is something that I love to see and experience."

Coach Donohue echoes that sentiment, saying, "These life experiences have kept Kat grounded and kept her working at an extremely high level on the court and in the classroom."

Owunna acknowledges that it can be difficult to come back from Nigeria and get back on the basketball court, but she knows that her teammates will support her.

She credits that to the chemistry the team shares and genuine friendship the Cardinals have. "I can honestly say that we truly care about one another and that we will be friends off the court for a very long time."

McGann admires Owunna for what she does after coming back from Nigeria each season. "I admire Kat for handling that situation well. She knows when she comes back that she has to earn her spot again, and she does it every time."

Lasting Memories
When looking back on her time at CUA, Owunna points to two specific memories that will leave lasting impressions on her. The number-one highlight on her list is winning the 2012 Landmark Conference championship.

"Winning the conference championship is something I will always remember and cherish," Owunna says.  She knows that she'll always remember being a part of that first championship team at CUA.

Owunna's second memory is the Cardinals' trip to Puerto Rico this past December. "It was a great experience for me because it was the first time that I was able to participate in a Christmas break trip with the team."  While playing two games there, Owunna was able to experience a rainforest for the first time, while making lasting memories with her teammates.

Student
-Athlete
Owunna has certainly made a name for herself on the court and in the classroom, and she's a great example of why "student" comes before "athlete."

As an accounting major, Owunna has excelled in that area all the way to a 3.9 cumulative GPA. She believes that basketball has forced her to concentrate more on her academics because of the time constraints.

McGann can attest to Owunna's focus on academics. "In any class I've had with Kat, she actively participates and always puts in the time and work. That obviously shows in her GPA, which is the best on the team."

Lady Card Legacy
Owunna will remember her time at CUA with fond memories but wants nothing more than to leave with another Landmark title and NCAA appearance. Coach Donohue believes Owunna will have a lasting impression on CUA.

"We'll be able to look up at that banner on the wall for years to come and instantaneously think of her and her contributions, but more importantly than that, she's left a legacy and helped create a culture."

In the summer of 2012, Owunna worked at Ernst and Young in her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa. Ernst & Young is one of the largest professional service firms in the world and one of the "Big Four" accounting firms. Ernst & Young is a global organization of member firms in more than 140 countries and was ranked by Forbes magazine as the eighth-largest private company in the United States in 2011.

Owunna will graduate in the spring of 2013 will a bachelor's degree in accounting. She will be taking the GRE's in the spring and plans on applying to graduate schools in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

Story written by Vicky Berry, CUA Office of Athletic Communications

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