Miranda Ayim, not a typical athlete

Miranda Ayim epitomizes the ideal of the "scholar-athlete." Photo by Seth Rubinroit

Special to The Malibu Times

This profile on Pepperdine University women’s basketball player Miranda Ayim is one in a series on individuals in the community who are involved with the world of sports.

It is rare for a collegiate athlete to have such a great impact on a university that her coach tears up when describing her. However, senior Pepperdine University women’s basketball player Miranda Ayim is not a typical athlete.

“It is almost indescribable what Miranda brings to this team,” coach Julie Rousseau said. “Miranda is not just a great player; she is a great person. She is a consummate team player, leader, student-athlete, and woman of faith. She is a true blessing for us. It brings me to tears to think of her not being here.”

On the court, Ayim, a center, has improved every season. As a freshman, Ayim was a role player for Pepperdine, averaging 6.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Now, in her final collegiate season, Ayim is the Waves’ unquestioned star, averaging a team-leading 14.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. She is a two-time All-West Coast Conference first-team selection. Ayim, who is from Ontario, Canada, has also played for the Canadian Junior National Team.

“Miranda has a very high basketball IQ,” Rousseau said. “She does not make a lot of mistakes. She is extremely versatile, and her defensive effort has picked up ever year.”

Off the court, Ayim has excelled in the classroom. She is a public relations major with a 3.70 grade point average, and the recipient of the 2008-2009 Pepperdine University women’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. She also has been nominated for the Lowe’s Senior Class Award, which recognizes excellence in the classroom, community, character and competition. She earned a selection on the WCC Commissioner’s Honor Roll three times, and has been named to the WCC All-Academic team twice.

Describe the way you play basketball.

I like to run. Our team likes to run and get fast breaks, so it works out perfectly. I like playing with the people on our team because they are smart and know how to make others look good.

What was the transition like coming to Malibu after growing up in Canada?

I have been here for about four years, so it is not as new, but there are some cultural differences. Some people say I have a little bit of an accent, but others do not notice it. It is not too different.

Why did you choose Pepperdine?

They recruited me, sent me letters and talked to me on the phone. The coaches came to see me, and I visited Pepperdine, and I made my decision. I love being able to go school and see the ocean everyday.

What is it like playing for Julie Rousseau?

She is a good coach. She is very supportive. She looks at us like her kids, so she takes care of us and creates a family atmosphere.

How do you balance academics and playing basketball?

It is all about time management. You need to know your schedule, and see when you can fit an hour of studying. Sometimes, the hardest thing is finding Internet [connections] so you can turn your papers in to professors on time when you are on the road.

How does the team look this year?

I think we are going to do well. I am really optimistic. We are on a winning streak, and we are getting ready for conference. Gonzaga is tough, and LMU is always our rival.

What basketball players do you look up to?

Julius Erving. He was so smooth when he played. It was beautiful to watch him play.

What do you like to do other than playing basketball?

I like hanging out with my friends. I play piano, even though I do not have a piano here, just a keyboard. I also like when my family visits or I go back at Christmas or over the summer.

What are your goals for the future?

I am keeping those options open [for professional basketball]. I am also thinking about going to graduate school. I am a PR major, and I have a concentration in psychology. It depends on the job market.