Westmont athlete named to NAIA’s First Team
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the third year in a row, Westmont’s Stefanie Berberabe has been named both a First Team NAIA Women’s Basketball All-American and a Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-American.
“I am grateful that Stef was recognized as a first-team All-American both by the NAIA and the WBCA,” said Westmont’s head coach Kirsten Moore. “It is so well-deserved. She has been such an incredible player this year that contributed in so many ways.
“Her impact was multifaceted on the court. Not just scoring, but assisting, rebounding and steals. Most importantly are things that don’t show up on the stat sheet — the heart with which she played the game and the heart with which she loved her teammates. She has represented our program at the highest level of excellence as a basketball player, but also in her character and the way she carries herself.”
Known throughout the NAIA for her ball-handling ability, Berberabe’s 4.0 assist-to-turnover ratio led the NAIA among all starting players. She ranked eighth in the NAIA this year in steals per game at 3.1 and ninth in assists per game at 5.8.
“Even though our season ended sooner than we would want, there is no doubt that she is deserving of being a first team All-American,” expressed Moore. “Despite the number of season-ending injuries our team faced, I am super proud of the way Stef continued to battle and continued to lead, and I am grateful she is being honored in her last year in that way.”
Berberabe figures prominently in the Westmont record books, placing in the top 10 in 16 statistical categories. She is Westmont’s all-time leading scorer with 1,752 career points, and ranks third in career points per game at 13.1. Somewhat surprisingly, unless one has watched her play, the 5-4 guard ranks fifth in career offensive rebounds with 260 and ninth in total rebounds.
Not surprisingly, Berberabe is second in both career assists (601) and in career steals (325). She has played in more games (134) than any other Warrior and for more minutes (3,896).
“Stef changes the game defensively,” explained Moore. “She has a level of grit, hustle and toughness that creates a lot of steals, but there are a lot of plays she makes where she doesn’t end up getting credited with the steal. She deflects it to a teammate or chases someone down from behind and pops the ball out. She makes so much happen on the defensive end of the floor that is uncomfortable for offensive players.”
As much as she is both admired and feared on the court for her basketball abilities, it is Berberabe’s character that sets her apart.
“One of the things that made Stef truly unique as a leader in this program is that there was such a purity of heart about her,” said Moore. “What she was doing was for the good of her teammates and the whole team. It wasn’t self-seeking, but It was always others focused.
“The ways that she served and gave of her energy and talents and efforts were always in striving toward our bigger team goals — not so she could receive personal accolades. There was not once that she asked me to see a stat sheet. It was just about doing everything she could to help our team be our best and help us maximize who we could be on the court.
“You see that selfless character in her assists — the one statistic you can look at. We needed and relied on her to score, but even when she was scoring, it was because she was trying to help our team do what it needed to do to come out on top, not because she was worried about her stats.
“On a team that is as close as ours, you can’t fake motivation. The purity of heart and that selfless love she has for others put her in a position to be such an impactful leader.”
Ron Smith is the sports information director at Westmont College.