Erica Ogwumike Follows In Sisters’ Footsteps With USA Basketball Camp Invite
When Erica Ogwumike arrived in Colorado Springs, Colorado, last week for the 2019 U.S. Pan American Games Women’s Basketball Team Trials, she was making her first appearance with USA Basketball.But, she couldn’t help feeling like she was in familiar territory.
Ogwumike has heard stories for years from her older sisters, Nneka and Chiney, about different events at the United States Olympic Training Center, where most USA Basketball trials and training camps take place. Her sisters have combined to win eight gold medals on various USA Basketball teams.
While Ogwumike fell short of making the final roster for the team that will compete at the Pan American Games this summer in Lima Peru, she did take home a valuable first experience in competing for a spot on a national team.
“It’s definitely something that I feel honored to be able to do,” Ogwumike said of her invitation to the trials. “I’ve kind of followed the same path as my sisters, but over the years I’ve kind of found my way to create my own identity.
“It’s never been a thing where you try to fit into their shoes because, one, their shoes are rather large, but we’re also four completely different girls in our family. So, I definitely use them as inspiration but also as resources and guidance, because they’ve experienced every single thing that I could possibly want to experience when it comes to basketball, and also just life."
Erica Ogwumike will be a senior at Rice University next season, where she was teammates this past season with a fourth Ogwumike sister, Olivia. Erica is coming off a junior year in which she was named Conference USA Player of the Year, averaging 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
It was those kinds of numbers that earned her an invitation to trials to compete with 34 other elite college players for a spot on the U.S. Pan American Games roster.
Ogwumike said the first thing she did when she learned she had earned an invitation was talk to her sisters about what to expect and how to approach the challenge. She said they told her to enjoy the experience, be a team player and demonstrate that she is willing to do whatever it takes to win.
The older Ogwumike sisters attended Stanford University and became WNBA first-round draft picks.“They kind of were talking to me more about the intangibles in basketball and the mental aspects, and I think those are the types of things that will help me succeed and just have fun,” Ogwumike said.
Basketball isn’t the only area in which Erica Ogwumike is following in her sisters’ footsteps. Like all of her siblings, she is also a standout student, who has her sights set on eventually going to medical school and becoming a doctor.
“I definitely see myself around children,” Ogwumike said. “I feel like there are many different specialties in pediatrics. I think you figure it out more once you go to medical school. They say no one really knows when they start what they are going to do. I’m keeping an open mind. It’s always been my interest, which is really weird because people don’t couple that with basketball all the time, but basketball has been an awesome platform to allow me to do things like science and medicine, which I am super interested in as well.”
Ogwumike credits her parents, Peter and Ify Ogwumike, for raising four young women with so much to offer the world and the sport they love.
“They’ve just always made us have balance,” Ogwumike said. “It’s never just one thing. It’s never just basketball. They always want us to be the most versatile individuals that we can be because why limit yourself when you have a lot of interests or a lot of capabilities or skills? So I think all of us have just utilized that and it has allowed us to be successful in a lot of different tiers in life.”