Susan Hubbard Sakimoto, who finished her degree in 1989, led Whitman to a conference championship in basketball, shared in a conference title in volleyball, and competed in the NCAA national championships in track & field. In earning six of her ten varsity letters in her first two years at Whitman, she earned high praise from coaches as well as professors, who described her as a "gem" and "workhorse," and as the "model student-athlete."
Sakimoto enjoyed her finest season, perhaps, as a senior co- captain in basketball, leading Whitman in both scoring (15.3 points per game), rebounding (8.4 rebounds per game), and shooting percentage (56.2 percent). She scored 27 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in a season-ending victory that clinched Whitman's 1988 conference title. She earned First-Team All- Conference basketball honors, receiving more votes from coaches than any other player. With tennis player Lynn Greer, Sakimoto shared that year's Mignon Borleske Trophy as the top female athlete at Whitman.
Sakimoto, a 6-foot-1 center and forward, finished her basketball career with 1,124 points and 787 rebounds. She led Whitman in rebounding in each of her four seasons, and she ranks third all-time in career rebounding at Whitman (she is No. 7 all-time in scoring). She shot a combined 51.3 percent from the floor in her four seasons. She earned second-team all-conference honors as a junior.
|Getting good position under the boards made Susan Hubbard Sakimoto (left) one of the top rebounders in the history of women's basketball at Whitman.|
Sakimoto made an immediate impact in track & field during her first year at Whitman, dominating one early season dual meet by winning two individual races and contributing to a pair of Whitman relay victories. Later that spring, she was part of Whitman's winning 400-meter relay team at the 1985 conference championships, where she also placed second in her strongest event, the 400-meter hurdles. One week later, running at the NAIA district meet, she set a new school record in the 400 hurdles. Later that month, she ran the 400 hurdles in the NCAA Div. III National Championships but failed to qualify for the finals.
As a sophomore and junior, Sakimoto finished second in the 400 hurdles at the conference championship meets. As a junior, she won both the 100 and 400 hurdles at the Whitman Invitational at Martin Field. She remains the Whitman record holder in the 100 hurdles with a time of 15.3 seconds. At one time, she also held a share of the school record in the 1,600-meter relay. She missed most of her senior track because of injury.
A middle blocker in volleyball, Sakimoto was part of a conference championship squad in her first season at Whitman. After earning honorable mention all-conference recognition as a sophomore, she skipped her next two volleyball seasons to concentrate on basketball. Sakimoto capped her Whitman athletic career by playing in the 1988 fall volleyball season as a fifth-year senior. She slammed 17 kills in one match to set a school record. She also set school records that fall for blocks and block assists. She averaged 2.5 blocks per game that season, ranking No. 15 nationally in the NAIA.
A graduate of Sandpoint (Idaho) High School, Sakimoto majored in geology and minored in astronomy and physics at Whitman. She later completed her master's and doctoral degrees in earth and planetary sciences at Johns Hopkins University and presently works as a research scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.Back to main news release