By Ellie Lieberman
There’s no other way to put it besides the fact that Mikayla Cowling is a Bay Area staple. Her college career at Cal was filled with highlights, from being named to the PAC-12 All-Freshman Team in 2015 and to being named All-Pac-12 Honorable Mentions and All-Defensive Honorable Mention in 2016 and 2017, Cowling left Berkeley having impacted the area forever. After getting drafted by the Connecticut Sun in 2018, Cowling first headed overseas to develop.
Last season, with Charnay in France, Cowling averaged 7.3 points and 1.6 steals per 24 minutes of play, and also has played elsewhere in France and Greece. Cowling played with the Atlanta Dream during their 2021 training camp as well and reflected on the opportunity with UPB, as well as the differences between overseas and WNBA play.
“Coming out of college I was more of a defensive minded player,” Cowling said. “Overseas they look for Americans who can score. They want us to be the top scorers in the league.” Back playing with the Dream, Cowling described all the players as bigger and faster and able to score from all levels, so she was able to be celebrated for her unique defensive talents as well.
Though Cowling described herself as shocked by the transition from college to the WNBA initially, she honed her abilities as scorer while still being heralded as a lockdown defender through the years. She describes herself as going through a “transformation of thought” to succeed on-the-court. And that acceptance of all her gifts has extended off-the-court as well, where Cowling has developed a clothing line called The One Day Collection.
“It’s about embracing your whole self,” Cowling said of the One Day Collection. “It’s about not being one thing and constantly being ok with changing yourself.”
These values of being open-minded and fluid are those that were fostered in Cowling because of her upbringing in Berkeley.
“I’ve considered Berkeley my home away from home. It’s just about coming together from a community that wants change. From The Bay, we just exist as who we are,” Cowling said. “We don’t want to change our identity to anyone else’s comfort zone.”
Cowling’s embrace of her identity will not only lead to continued success in her basketball career but also fascinating ventures in the Bay Area off the court as well. Behind her will always be her proud “second family” at UPB.