Playing two seasons of basketball for Solano Community College in Fairfield was a life-changing experience for Kate Shipp-Roberts.
“As a person, my world opened up,” she said last Tuesday. “I met different girls from all different backgrounds. I don’t think I would have that experience any place else.
“I know that when I was at that age, like every high school senior, they think they have it all figured out. My life took a completely different path, and I’m so grateful for it.”
Shipp-Roberts worked on her game, day after day, during her two years (2004-06) at Solano. She worked on her ball handling, her shooting, her defense, her rebounding, her strength and conditioning.
She was a two-time first-team All-Bay Valley Conference player for the Solano women’s team as a shooting guard. Solano won BVC titles and reached the California Community College Athletic Association Northern California regional playoffs both years.
As a sophomore, Shipp-Roberts led the Falcons to a 23-10 record and a win over Sierra-Rocklin in the championship game of the Solano Showdown.
She was the team Most Valuable Player both seasons for the Falcons under head coach Matt Borchert, who is still at the Solano helm.
“There were a couple of us that came in as freshmen and we were the biggest gym rats,” she said. “We all bought in and that was contagious. We would go to the gym and we would shoot and shoot and shoot. We were in the gym all the time. We wanted to get better.”
Shipp-Roberts, 31, will be honored for her two seasons as a standout at Solano when she is inducted into the Falcons’ Athletic Hall of Fame during a dinner and awards ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 28 starting at 5 p.m. at Solano Community College.
The Class of 2017 also consists of:
* John Canova, game announcer, 1987-present.
* Welana Toki, women’s basketball, 2004 and 2005.
* Reggie Vezia II, men’s basketball, 2003 and 2004.
* Ryan Lipkin, baseball, 2007.
* Victor Ferrante, baseball, 2004 and 2006.
* Shirley Lewis, SCC booster, 1997-present.
* Jennae Lambdin, softball head coach, 1995-2000.
Special recognition will be given to the 1996 softball team.
“It’s just such an honor. It really is,” said Shipp-Roberts. “It’s something special. They were two of the best years. It wasn’t easy.
“Anyone thinking that junior college is easy is very much mistaken. I wouldn’t be where I am, career-wise, coaching-wise, if I hadn’t gone through Solano. I’m grateful.”
Shipp-Roberts said Borchert helped her get on the right path as a college player.
“Coach Borchert humbled me early and said, ‘Hey, if this is what you want to achieve, as far as a basketball scholarship, you need to do X, Y and Z,’ ” she said. “It was very humbling and I’m so grateful for that.
“Coach Borchert allowed me to play for him. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for him and Solano. You hear people say that all the time – but this really rings true.”
Solano has been like a second home for Shipp-Roberts. She began her coaching career as an assistant, spending two years at Solano (2009-10), during which time the Falcons tied for the BVC title and won it outright the following year. They went to the California Community College Athletic Association state playoffs each year.
“I played with some great, great ladies,” she said. “I definitely had to work on my ball handling. I had to work on my 3-point shot, which ended up working out later in my basketball career. I needed to find some way to be on the floor, whether it was shooting, defending, rebounding, whatever. I was going to be in the gym, making sure that I could give my team the best I could.
“It’s a place that is near and dear to my heart. It’s family.”
Shipp-Roberts is a 2004 Napa High School graduate who was twice named All-Napa County for the Indians.
After playing for Solano, she had a stellar two-year career for Azusa Pacific University in Southern California, helping the Cougars advance to the NAIA National Tournament in Jackson, Tenn., each year. As a shooting guard, she was one of the Golden State Athletic Conference leaders in 3-point field goal percentage as a senior.
She got her degree in P.E. from Azusa Pacific in 2008.
As a graduate student at the University of Alabama, she was an instructor within the P.E. department. She got her master’s degree in human performance in 2012.
Shipp-Roberts taught P.E. and coached for four years at American Canyon High. She was the head girls basketball coach for two years and the head swimming coach for one year.
She is in her second year as a P.E. teacher at St. Helena High and is also the department chairperson. She will be in her first season as the varsity girls basketball head coach this winter.
Shipp-Roberts has been around athletics her entire life. Her parents, Dave and Mary Shipp, are retired after teaching and coaching at the high school level.
More information about the Solano Hall of Fame is available by emailing Claire Gover at Claire.Gover@solano.edu or calling 864-7119.