Feb. 22, 2013
Stockill Speaks the Language of Hoops
By John Painter, Colgate Director of Athletic Communications
Note: The following story appears in the 2013 Patriot League Basketball Tournament program.
Josie Stockill's brand of a Southern accent includes words such as "fortnightly" and "heaps."
That's Southern, all right. Southern Hemisphere.
Stockill hails from New Zealand, or just about as far south as you can go on this planet and still be able to dribble a basketball on outdoor courts.
But while her play on the floor has been a welcomed addition to the Raiders' roster - she's among the Patriot League leaders in blocked shots - Stockill has faced more than her share of trying times.
"Every international kid's different, just like every American kid is different," Colgate head coach Nicci Hays Fort said. "It's about their maturity.
"You just can't use slang terms at the beginning because the international kids don't understand them."
Hoops Talk Is Tough
Hays Fort says that as a coach, you have to think before you speak.
"With American basketball slang, you find yourself saying things that everyone in basketball circles uses," she said. "We all say things like `pick-and-pop' or even `play centerfield' on the press, but that doesn't work for international kids -at least not at first."
Things U.S.-born players take for granted can be lost on even the most gifted foreign student-athletes.
"We were talking earlier this year about a team and comparing their defense to Texas A&M," Hays Fort said. "About how this team was going to get after us and deny us really hard.
"I said, `Remember a few years ago when Texas A&M won the national championship?' Everyone was nodding their head in agreement, and then I saw Josie and she was shaking her head no. She had no idea what I was talking about."
Stockill not only hadn't heard of Texas A&M, she didn't have a clue about the Aggies' defense.
"She obviously knows Connecticut and Tennessee, and she knows Baylor because of Brittany Griner," Hays Fort said. "But she was blank on Texas A&M. It's like I was speaking a foreign language."
Stockill found her way into basketball despite the fact that most New Zealand women and girls play netball, which Stockill describes as a sport that's "similar to basketball but there's no backboard." She also was fortunate to live in Napier, a city of about 60,000 in the North Island's eastern coast.
`There's Jamie Dixon!'
It was there her path crossed with Jamie Dixon.
Before he became the successful men's coach at Pittsburgh, Dixon played professional basketball in the Napier region for the Hawke's Bay Hawks of the New Zealand National Basketball League. And his first coaching job of any kind was at Te Aute College, also just outside Napier.
All of which makes Dixon a definite A-Lister when it comes to New Zealand hoops.
"I went to camp a couple of times in Wellington because it's the capital and there is a lot more basketball," Stockill said. "The first time we were there, me and my mum talked to Jamie. People were lining up to talk to him because it was like, `There's Jamie Dixon!'"
That was in 2009, a few years before Stockill was graduating from Napier Girls High School. Yet Stockill already was making plans to play college basketball in the United States, and Dixon proved to be a wealth of information.
"I didn't know how to go about it," Stockill said of her college goals. "But Jamie actually sat down 1-on-1 with me and my mum and wrote out a plan and a time frame for us of things to do. He began putting my name out to people and that's what really started my getting interest from college teams in the states.
"He's such a busy guy, and for him to take time to do that for a little ol' New Zealander was pretty cool."
One of those people Dixon contacted was Hays Fort, who knew the Pitt coach through the friendship she had with Maggie Dixon, Jamie's sister. Maggie was head coach at Army until her untimely death at age 28 of complications from an enlarged heart.
"Jamie played professionally over there and, when he was recruiting Steven Adams (Pitt's freshman center from New Zealand), kept seeing Josie because she always was playing with the guys," Hays Fort said. "He told me she had off-the-chart grades, and I began a relationship with Josie, her family and her coaches - all through Jamie."
Stockill's first season in the Patriot League has been everything she'd hoped. The language obstacles have been minor annoyances for the freshman, who posted a 3.5 grade-point average for her first semester in addition to her on-court contributions.
"I really like Colgate, and the basketball has been another level for me," Stockill said. "Even the `Colgate Bubble,' I'm not sick of it yet.
"People say because we're isolated at Colgate and everyone's so close to each other that you get sick of the bubble. But I'm definitely not sick of the bubble."
She might say it's been heaps of fun.