Four years ago, Jim and Judy Zierick sat next to Pepperdine women’s basketball Head Coach Julie Rousseau at a dinner event. The Malibu residents, large supporters of Waves athletics, asked the coach what they could do to help the women’s basketball program.
“Come to the games,” Rousseau answered, according to Julie.
Since that time, the Ziericks have never missed a home game and have even traveled to several away games to support the Waves.
It was in the stands where the couple took notice of senior guard Daphanie Kennedy, who Judy describes as having “such tenacity and drive on the court.”
Kennedy and the Ziericks eventually became friends, and although the couple will miss seeing the graduating Kennedy lead the team in scoring and break steal records next year, they will be watching someone they hope will be following in the all-conference player’s footsteps.
On March 28, the Ziericks made a generous contribution to the women’s basketball program by establishing an endowed scholarship in Kennedy’s name.
“It could have been easy to just make a general scholarship for women’s basketball,” Judy said, “but naming it after her gives her an opportunity to have footprints.”
Upon hearing about the scholarship, Kennedy said her initial reaction was, “Wow.”
“It’s such a big honor,” Kennedy said. “I was shocked that they would choose me, and I am just so thankful.”
Kennedy, an integrated marketing communications major, is the first generation in her family not only to attend college, but graduate. She accomplished this feat in four years, an achievement Judy highly admires.
“I can’t imagine being a Division I athlete, traveling, practicing, classes and graduating in four years,” Judy said.
For Kennedy, graduating from Pepperdine makes her “feel good to have my little sister and cousin looking up to me.”
She said she hopes the recipients of the scholarship are dedicated to working hard on and off the court.
“I just hope they are overall good people and kind-hearted,” she said. “It should be someone who puts a lot of effort out on the court and does double time in the classroom.”
Judy, who has been around sports a long time, having worked with ESPN and the NFL Network, said she looks at what sports do to help young people learn leadership, teamwork and commitment.
“Those three things are critical to succeeding in the business world,” she said. “With sports, you can get all those experiences.”
For Judy, the scholarship is not about her and her husband.
“It’s about inspiring student-athletes,” she said. “I want to make sure there’s a legacy.”