Q and A: December Scholar Athlete Tatjana Sparavalo
Senior gears up for conference play tonight against Northern Colorado at 7:05 p.m., and Idaho State on Saturday at 2:05 p.m., at Reese Court.
Senior Tatjana Sparavalo has helped make a name for the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team. During her freshman season, Sparavalo and the Eagles won only four games. Over the next two years, they transformed themselves into a championship team, laying claim to the school’s first-ever BSC regular season title in 2010.
Sparavalo was named Scholar Athlete of the Month for December along with sophomore free safety Jeff Minnerly from the football team. After just three years in Cheney, she graduated cum laude with a degree in business administration. She is currently working on her master’s in business at EWU.
A native of Novi Sad, Serbia, Sparavalo often struggled with home sickness. But, with the help of EWU’s former men’s basketball player Milan Stanojevic, who was also a native of Serbia, the transition to American was a smooth one. She says that she has a new family in her teammates.
As Eastern's invaluable "sixth man," Sparavalo averages 20.2 minutes off the bench for EWU, who is currently 4-3 in Big Sky action. She has scored in double figures in 14 of Eastern's 19 games, including the last seven in a row. She is currently Eastern's second-leading scorer with 12.5 points per game, and has recorded a team-leading four double-doubles this season. She tied her career high scoring mark with 24 points in Eastern's narrow 75-68 loss at Northern Colorado, and has twice set a career high in rebounds this year with 11 against Cal State Fullerton (Nov. 12) and Portland State (Jan. 8).
Q: What do you plan to do with your degree?
A: “I’m not really sure yet. I might try to find a job somewhere in California because I like the weather there. If not, I might go home.”
Q: Why did you choose to come to Eastern?
A: “I really liked Coach Schuller because she was very caring. And, I thought it was a good program. Another reason I came was because Milan Stanojevic, another basketball player from Serbia, signed with Eastern. I thought it would be an easier adjustment for me if I had someone to relate to from back home.”
Q: Not associated with anything in athletics, what is the best part about being an Eastern student?
A: “I really like the relationships the students have with their professors. Professors are very caring and understanding, especially for student-athletes.”
Q: Who is your favorite professor and why?
A: “There have been many professors who have influenced my student career. But, if I had to pick two, I would definitely pick Jack Gambill and Tom Trulove. Gambill is an accounting professor. I had him in my first business class and I really liked him. Tom Trulove is an economics professor and is also the mayor of Cheney. He is very understanding and he is a huge women’s basketball supporter.”
Q: What has been your favorite class and why?
A: “I don’t think I really had a favorite class. But, I do really like the ethics and leadership class that I am taking right now. It is very demanding, but very interesting because of how different it is than regular classes. It’s based on presentations instead of lectures.”
Q: What is a tip that you would give another student-athlete to be successful in school and in their sport?
A: “Definitely time management. If you can manage your time you can manage anything.”
Q: Who is your favorite teammate and why?
A: “Probably Kyla Evans and Julie Piper. I can’t pick only one. Kyla, Julie and I are all best friends. We have been through thick and thin together.”
Q: What has been your most memorable moment at Eastern?
A: “It was last year when we won the championship. The last game against Portland State was the end of an amazing journey. We only won four games our freshman year and I feel like we really turned this program around. “
Q: What is your most prized possession?
A: “That would be the picture of my family that I have in my room. It just reminds me that they are always there for me, even though they’re on the other side of the world.”
Q: Who was your first celebrity crush?
A: “George Clooney! When I saw him in E.R., I fell in love with him, and I am still in love with him today.”
Q: Do you have a hidden talent?
A: “I used to swim and play volleyball, but I found my true talent in basketball.”