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Former Cerritos High Student Lauren Kamiyama Inducted Into Chapman University Hall of Fame

Former Cerritos High alum Lauren Kamiyama (second from left) is pictured with Maggie Wilder Werner (far left), Jillian Felger-Mabee and Buffy Klovstad as the new inductees of Chapman University’s Hall of Fame. Photos by Loren Kopek.

 

By Loren Kopff• @LorenKopff on Twitter

When Lauren Kamiyama set foot on Chapman University after graduating from Cerritos High in 2004, still dealing with double torn ACL’s, she never envisioned being inducted into the university’s Hall of Fame nearly two decades later. While she sees it as a huge accomplishment, Kamiyama admitted she doesn’t know anyone close to her who has been inducted into their college’s Hall of Fame.

She does now, herself, and she knows it’s a big deal as last Friday night, Kamiyama was one of four athletes inducted into Chapman’s 39th Night of Champions and Athletics Hall of Fame. The former basketball star, who graduated in 2009, joins Buddy Klovstad (baseball, 2006), Maggie Wilder Werner (softball, 2007) and Jillian Felger-Mabee (volleyball, 2009). She went as far as saying she’s humbled because her teammates should all be honored alongside her.

“I’m speechless,” said Kamiyama. “As you know me, I don’t like being in the spotlight. So, tonight was a tough time. But I’m incredibly honored and humbled. When I was a player here, Coach Carol used to always tell me, ‘You’re a future Hall of Famer, you’re a future Hall of Famer’. I don’t know if I necessarily believed her. But yeah, tonight was kind of surreal.”

“What a great honor for someone that made everybody better on her team,” said Chapman head coach Carol Jue. “I think everybody is going to look and say, ‘wait a second, she’s going in for basketball?’ She was the big woman on campus at her height while she was at Chapman.

“I’m taller than her and every time people ask my occupation, they’re like, ‘but you’re short’,” she continued. “I [would] say it doesn’t matter. It’s not about the height, it’s about the heart and the skill and the smart.”

Kamiyama and her teams went to the NCAA Division III Tournament every season she was there. As a freshman, she played in 22 of 27 games, averaging close to 16 minutes per game and scoring 108 points. The next season, she tore her ACL again and missed the entire 2005-2006 campaign. But she came back strong the next season, started all 29 games and was second in scoring with 357 points. As a senior, Kamiyama was selected to the All-West Region team as she set a school record with 86 steals in a season.

But it wasn’t about the scoring that made Kamiyama a Hall of Famer. Despite falling seven points short of 1,000, Kamiyama still leads the program in career assists, with 424 in 106 games played, and in steals, with 242. She is also second all-time in three-point shots attempted (554) and third in three-pointers made (174).

Among the plethora of accomplishments, the one that will stand out came on Feb. 28, 2007 when Chapman was facing the University of La Verne in the playoffs. The Panthers were trailing big late in the game, but Kamiyama single-handily carried the team on her back in the final minutes and helped her team to an amazing 108-97 overtime win. She scored 34 points, was 17 of 18 at the free throw line and had four assists.

“That’s the moment that sticks out for me the most,” she said. “For whatever reason, I think it was the grit and grind; the persistence we had to show to overcome in that game and we needed everybody. Four of our starters fouled out and I was the only starter left in the game and we had to rely on people that maybe we didn’t have to rely on in other games. I think it just culminated our team that year; that we needed all of us.”

Despite blowing out both knees in her senior season at Cerritos, Jue saw a lot of potential while she was at Cerritos and was hoping her knees would hold up. She had a lot of conversations with Lauren’s mother, Sue Kamiyama before her passing, hoping she would choose Chapman University because there was a chance she wouldn’t come to the school. Kamiyama also had interest in San Diego State University. But following the passing of her mother, Kamiyama looked to Jue to be that second mother.

“She definitely was,” recalled Kamiyama. “When I got here, my mom passed away in October; it was two months into the school year and it was a tough time for me. But I think being on the basketball team definitely helped me deal with the passing of my mom and Carol was right there to step in as a mother figure to me then and is now.”

“I knew she could be really good, but man, for all the records she has at Chapman, it’s amazing,” said Jue. “You knew she was special, but how special? There was no way you could predict it.”

When talking about the records she set at Chapman, Kamiyama said that they are meant to be broken and while it’s a great accomplishment to still be the all-time leader in assists and steals over 10 years after the graduated, she added that it doesn’t think its defines her career at the institution.

“The time I had with my teammates…our team across my five years was very successful,” said Kamiyama. “We had 20 wins every single season. I think that gets overlooked, but I think the time I had with my teammates; the journey, the grit and grind with 10 people, sometimes less than 10 at practice, is by far more important than the records I set.”

 

Lauren Kamiyama, who recovered through three torn ACL’s, the last when she was a sophomore at Chapman University, is pictured with her chiropractor Carlos Prieto (left) and her father, Ed Kamiyama last Friday night as Lauren was inducted into Chapman’s Hall of Fame.

With everything Kamiyama went through her last year at Cerritos and throughout her time at Chapman where she majored in liberal studies before getting her teaching credential, she has a message for those future athletes who either look up to her or want to. The current girls basketball head coach and athletic director at North Torrance High says with hard work and if you’re truly determined on reaching a goal, you can. Kamiyama would return to Chapman to get masters in teaching in 2014 and another one in coaching and athletic administration from Concordia University in 2019.

“Ironically, two of my players have torn their ACL’s and both have recovered and I kind of helped them through the process because as you know, it’s not easy,” said Kamiyama. “Just the long rehab…sometimes there are setbacks, sometimes you want to go 100 miles per hour and your doctor said your physical therapists are telling you, you can only go 50. I just think the experiences I went through during that time, I’m able to help the kids I deal with every day.”

“Any guard that came through who had the chance to play with her and watch her play saw someone that…the legacy of it I think was hard work and determination,” said Jue. “When you hear about it later, like little girls of 10 and 12 years old said [they] would come to the games and say they wanted to be just like her. I used to have a retired Orange High School teacher who would bring his grandson to watch her. Not the men’s team, but the women’s team because of Lauren. That’s how impactful she was.”

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