By Mimi Towle
Next time you’re standing in line at the Mill Valley Peet’s, the statuesque thirtysomething brunette behind you could be Jennifer Azzi, the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame’s most recent inductee. She moved into town not long ago and has already picked out her favorite Marin haunts: Cafe del Sol, Piazza D’Angelo, Canvas and the aforementioned Peet’s.
A quick Google search retrieves pages and pages dedicated to Azzi (rhymes with hazy). Click through the links to find her own fan club—articles lauding her days as a point guard for the Detroit Shock team; her gold medal win at the 1994 Goodwill Games as well as the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta; and an NCAA Basketball Championship title earned while she was at Stanford. Post basketball, Azzi tapped into her experiences as an elite athlete to become a wellness and training coach. Her own website, jenniferazzi.com, reveals the evolution of her career as a motivational speaker, which has her traveling all over the country. In fact, tracking her down for an interview was a challenge.
We caught up her with at Mill Valley’s Book Depot just before she flew to Montreal, to talk about why she has chosen Marin as home.
You could live anywhere. Why Marin? Quality of life is everything to me and Marin has it all. And it’s very health-oriented; it’s great to be at a dinner party and discuss hiking trails. I love being out on the trails and am thankful that the residents have protected the land.
What makes you happy in Marin? Everything! I especially enjoy the people. I appreciate the attitude toward the environment and our natural resources. I am in the process of getting a hybrid vehicle. I am inspired and more conscientious living here.
What bothers you here? Not much. Lack of gratitude is all that would bother me.
What is your personal idea of luxury? Getting a massage once a week; otherwise, my desire is to always be thankful for what I have. I try to keep it simple and enjoy great food, stimulating conversation … and I have a weakness for a nice California pinot noir (which I had way before the movie Sideways!).
What person has influenced you the most? My parents have influenced me so much. I learned a lot of my values from them. Both of my parents were instrumental in my decision to go to Stanford. They greatly value education.
What has been the most fulfilling moment in your work? Seeing young girls have the opportunity and the motivation to excel, to dream big, and to feel that they can accomplish anything makes me proud. Throughout my athletic career, part of the “work” was speaking to kids about working hard and following their dreams. It gives me great joy to hear a young person tell me that I somehow inspired him or her to try a little harder and study just a little bit more.
What’s your desert island favorite book or album? I might go crazy on a desert island! I don’t have a favorite book, and am all over the map with my taste in music. I like biographies and nonfiction.
What’s your favorite place to unwind? Without a doubt, my favorite place to unwind is my house, sitting out on the deck.
Do you have a favorite Marin view? I am still new here, so I know there are many spectacular views to be seen. On a recent hike, I absolutely loved the view from the top of the Miwok Trail looking at San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.
What do you like about yourself? I’m positive about life. Sometimes my attitude gets in the way, but I see good in most everything.
How do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered for loving.