As a Big Ten student-athlete, what were some of the life lessons you learned throughout your collegiate career?
"Definitely time management... I have learned not to procrastinate on anything. It has helped me to stay organized and get things done on time. It's also helped my teamwork skills, which will be important in any job - leaders are needed in every field. Leadership is important in any job, especially the Air Force, which is the career I want to pursue. The leadership I have learned on the court is going to directly translate to my job in the future."
Talk about the demands of balancing schoolwork with being a Big Ten student-athlete...
"As the case is for a lot of student-athletes, learning time management helped me as I went through college. I knew I had to balance my time and make sure that I was dedicated to both school and athletics. The university, coaches and other student-athletes all help each other out and make sure we are on time and getting our things done. That support has really helped me and made my academic experience easier."
Back in high school, you weren't sure if you were even going to be playing volleyball, correct?
"Originally, I didn't know if I was going to play volleyball in college. I'm pretty short, so I didn't know if it was going to be possible. I wanted to go to Illinois for academic reasons because my grades have always been important to me throughout school. Illinois is a very good school for academics and it's a Big Ten school too, which means I would have wanted to go there regardless of whether of was going to be playing volleyball. It was exciting for me to have the opportunity to go there for both."
What has been the highlight of your Big Ten volleyball career so far?
"Without a doubt the highlight of my career was when we beat Southern California during my sophomore season. They were top-ranked, had just won a national championship and were undefeated for 52 matches coming in. We were not expected to do very well at all. We were playing at home with the largest home crowd I've ever played in front of watching, and we beat them in five games. It was the most amazing match; I can't even put it into words."
Coach Hardin also has a military background, how has that helped you in your ROTC experience?
"It's been a great deal of help. He was in the Air Force before he started coaching and when I came to him with the idea that I wanted to join the Air Force, he was very excited and supportive. Because of that, he's been very supportive of me throughout my career. He's made sure that ROTC is always involved and that things weren't too conflicting. It's great having someone there who has been there before. It's great to hear some of his stories and to have that support not only from him, but from the rest of our team."
What advice would you give to aspiring female student-athletes?
"I would advise them to know their priorities and what they want out of a college, whether it's academics, the school itself, or if you want to be close to home. Plan accordingly to where you want to go. Make sure you find a team and a school that you really like and fit with. It's not all about athletics, so make sure the academics are there and that you fit into both. Finding a fit with academics as well as the coaches and team is important and if you can do that you'll have a great experience."
What does it mean for you to represent Illinois in the Big Ten's 25th Anniversary of Women's Championships campaign?
"I was honored when our sports information director called me to tell me about it and I didn't really believe him. Out of all the female student-athletes, I was picked for the University of Illinois? I just think it's amazing and I'm happy to represent the university. I have had a great experience there so I am happy to give back. It's a great honor not just from the university side, but to be representing all the current Illinois student-athletes and women's athletics in general as well. I'm very happy to be a part of it."