Sophomore Katie Dierdorf has had visions of Maize and Blue as far back as she can remember. Her father, Dan, played football at Michigan and earned All-America honors in 1970 before going on to a Hall of Fame career in the NFL with the St. Louis Cardinals. Dierdorf's dream of suiting up for the Wolverines became a reality in 2004, as she chose to attend her dad's alma mater and play basketball for a coaching staff that she grew up watching back home in Missouri.
Dierdorf, who was named Missouri's Miss Basketball after averaging 25 points and 10 rebounds as a senior at Visitation Academy (St. Louis, Mo.), had her freshman campaign cut short after suffering an injury to her left hip nine games into last season. She finished her first year at U-M averaging 4.3 points and 2.1 boards.
Dierdorf unfortunately experienced a similar injury to her right hip early in 2006, which has forced her to sit out the remainder of her sophomore season. She was putting up solid numbers prior to her injury, averaging 7.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 22 games.
An eight-game starter in 2005-06, Dierdorf scored in double digits in six of the last eight games she played in and was ranked eighth in the Big Ten Conference in field goal percentage at .504 (70-of-139). She had a career performance in Michigan's non-conference finale at St. Bonaventure (Dec. 23), recording career highs of 19 points and seven rebounds to lead the Wolverines to a 68-60 victory.
Dierdorf took some time after practice to talk about such things as her fondest memories of U-M athletics, Michigan's new Academic Center and her role on the team while recovering from her recent season-ending injury.
On her childhood memories of Michigan "I have a lot of memories of Michigan. Probably the one that sticks out in my mind the most was when the football team won the Rose Bowl in 1998. I was at that game with my family, and I remember seeing Bo Schembechler and a bunch of my dads friends. I got to see first-hand the Michigan tradition. Of course we won game and the national championship that year, so I was really excited to be at that game. It was probably the first time I realized that this school has such a great tradition of athletics."
On the athletic traits she shares with her father "My height comes from him, which is a good thing. I hear he was also pretty quick. His competitiveness has really rubbed off on me. Hes a really competitive and driven person, and I think thats part of the reason why I am where I am today. He also pushed me in a good way and taught me all the other things that I carry over into basketball now."
On why she chose to attend Michigan "When I was little, I always wanted to come to Michigan. When I got to high school, things became a little more realistic. There were other schools in the picture that I was looking at, but mainly a lot of it came down to the coaching staff. Im from Missouri, so I was familiar with Coach Burnett and the other coaches at Southwest Missouri State. When that coaching staff ended up coming to Michigan, it became the perfect fit for me. Its amazing how it all worked out."
On the first time she wore her Maize and Blue jersey "It was pretty amazing. I remember the first time I walked into practice with my practice gear on; it was a big deal. But then our first exhibition game was a whole different experience. Running out and hearing Hail to the Victors and looking down at my jersey was something Ill never forget. Every time I hear the fight song, I kind of stop and think how lucky I am. Every since I was five years old I would say that I wanted to go to Michigan and play basketball, and its actually happening now."
On her favorite class she has taken in college "I took a biology class last year on infectious diseases. It sounds kind of strange but it was a really interesting class. It wasnt as much about biology, but more about the history of epidemics and things like that."
On Michigans new Academic Center "I love it. I spend so much time there. I live with Janelle (Cooper), Kelly (Helvey) and Krista (Clement), and our house is directly across the street from the Academic Center. I spend more time there than I do at home. Its amazing. Its hard sometimes to get stuff done at your own house. They have computer labs over there where you can print all your work out. Its a really great thing to have and its helping everyone out a lot."
On her role now that she is out with a season-ending injury "Unfortunately I went through the same thing last year, but earlier in the season. I think its a lot different this year being a sophomore. Last year I was kind of afraid to say anything because I was a freshman and I couldnt get very much experience playing. But now I can encourage the freshman, answer their questions and let them know what they are doing right and wrong. Its a good opportunity to be a more vocal leader instead of leading by example through your play. Im just going to try to be there for them and hopefully they will finish out the season well and keep their confidence up."
Contact: Marc Ressler (734) 763-4423