Kari Gallup's voice was tinged with an excited tremble as she unlaced her basketball shoes while sitting on the court at Franklin Covey's corporate athletic facility Tuesday.
The 1998 Utah Starzz had just finished their first workout of the season, and Gallup, a rookie from BYU, was still a bit awestruck that she'd been a part of a pro experience."It's fun. I like it," Gallup said, "but I'm still a little scared and intimidated. It's a different level of intensity. I haven't had to play at that level, not yet.
"I love it," she added.
The Y. grad won the NCAA 3-point-shooting championship at the Final Four as a last-minute replacement contestant and is still on a high.
"I was just shocked," Gallup says about receiving a phone call inviting her back to the Starzz training camp that started this week after she'd participated in their free-agent tryout camp May 2 and 3.
"I went to BYU, and our program hasn't been up there for a while," she explained, adding that she figured WNBA camps were places for players from Top 25 schools. "But it's cool."
Meanwhile, Tuesday's camp provided Wendy Palmer with an opposite experience.
She was the Starzz's top scorer and rebounder and was a WNBA second-team all-star last summer, and now the newcomers are asking her the queions that she had wondered about in 1997, the first year of the league.
Having dropped weight while playing a hard schedule in Hungary and Brazil over the winter, Palmer is in superb shape. She led the Starzz's big players in Tuesday's running drills, moving almost effortlessly. Only guard Tammi Reiss ran easier. Losing weight has made a difference to the knee Palmer injured last year, she says.
"She was leading the front of the line," said coach Denise Taylor about Palmer. "We talked to her about being that leader this year. She was 23 years old last year, but now she has a year under her belt, and she wants that role. The way to lead is by example, and she set that tone today."
Taylor says the biggest difference between last year's first day of camp and this one is that "the players seem more relaxed. The players that returned helped the new players become familiar with the drills."
The coach added that she saw "enthusiasm and high energy" Tuesday.
"Today is deceptive," said draftee Olympia Scott, the WNBA's No. 11 pick overall. Scott noted that there was only one work-out Tuesday, with the players attending the Jazz game later that night. On Wednesday, they begin two-a-day practices that may last through the end of camp May 22, Sundays excluded.
Tracey Connor agreed Tuesday's single workout wasn't bad. "So today, I'm still going to say medical school is harder," she said.
She figures she'll change that statement by sometime Wednesday afternoon. Planning to become an orthopedic surgeon, Connor took a leave of absence from Wake Forest med school to try out for the Starzz.
For 6-foot-4 Australian rookie Samantha Tomlinson, Tuesday's work-out was a pleasant surprise. She's the tallest Starzz player until the arrival of 7-2 Malgorzata Dydek, whose visa problems may be resolved by Wednesday night.
Tomlinson had surgery - an ultrasound, dye exam and biopsy - for a kidney problem only a week earlier. The biopsy gave her a clean bill of health, and she's controlling the stones with pills now.
Tomlinson played at Troy State in Alabama, which occasionally met Taylor's Northeastern Illinois team. That's how she was invited to the Starzz free-agent tryouts.
She's hoping to stick with the Starzz this summer so she can bring her mother to Utah from Australia. Tomlinson hasn't seen her mom, or her home in Australia, in four years.