It wasn’t only about basketball for Emily Westerberg. Family and friends were right up there. She made that clear in 2007 when she passed on an opportunity to play in the WNBA.
And individual honors? She’s had armloads. But they’re not about her, she’s quick to note. It’s a team game; a team thing.
So the response of the former Central Valley High School standout to being selected for induction into the Arizona State University Athletics Hall of Fame 10 years after leading the Sun Devils women’s basketball team to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight shouldn’t be surprising.
“I was blown away by the honor of it all,” she said from her home in Atlanta, where she lives with her husband of 10 years, Grayling Love, and four children. “I feel undeserving. I feel that what we did at ASU we did as a team.
“When I was told (about the Hall of Fame), I teared up. I’m so grateful for the honor, but what I did was because of my teammates. They made it possible for me” to be successful.
What she did was become ASU’s first three-time All-Pac-10 selection in women’s basketball, earning All-America honorable mention from the Associated Press in 2007, when she was also a finalist for Kodak All-America honors.
Westerberg helped lead ASU to three appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including their first trip to the Elite Eight.
The Sun Devils went 31-5 her senior season, setting several school records, including for most wins, and finished the year ranked a school-best eighth. Westerberg finished her career ranked in ASU’s top 10 in five categories and also was a three-time Pac-10 All-Academic selection.
After that magical 2007 season, she was selected in the third round of WNBA draft by the Phoenix Mercury. She passed. “It would be awesome to play in the WNBA,” she told The Spokesman-Review at the time,” but it’s more important to build relationships than move on with my career.”
She returned to Spokane, where she had led CV to two State 4A championships and a second-place finish and was the Washington 4A Player of the Year in 2002 and 2003, got married, did some individual coaching – “that was fun” – and focused on the next stage of her life.
After seven years in Spokane, the family moved to Seattle and Emily played some pretty competitive adult-level basketball with former CV, Spokane Stars and ASU teammate Reagan Pariseau. But as her family grew, Westerberg said she didn’t want to have to worry about “blown ACLs and sprained ankles” and hung up her sneakers. Tough to chase kids around hobbled.
Her new “team” consists of husband Grayling, a former ASU football player, three biological children - Lucy, 8; Trey 7; and Eli, 4 - and a 5-week-old foster child. Armed with a degree in elementary education, she volunteers in her children’s classrooms.
That keeps her busy. But the competitive juices?
“I love to compete with my husband in the gym and on the treadmill now,” she said.
She is one of eight who will be inducted into the ASU shrine on Oct. 13 during the weekend of the Sun Devils’ football game against Washington.
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