Aug. 24, 2007
Recently, Eastern Washington University volleyball setter Amanda Yausie sat down for a question-and-answer session, as the team made final preparations for the beginning of the 2007 season. The sophomore is coming off an outstanding freshman season, when she finished fourth among Big Sky Conference players in assists per game with 9.68.
Yausie and the Eagles will take on Saint Mary's, Arizona and Utah State this weekend, as the four teams will take part in the Sheraton Four Points Wildcat Classic. Eastern plays SMC at 12:30 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 24) and the host Wildcats at 7 that night. The team's tournament play wraps up at 4 p.m. on Saturday versus Utah State. Live video (free) for Friday's matches and stats for all matches this weekend are available at livestats.arizonaathletics.com/arizona/volleyball/game/
Are you excited about the season starting?
"Yes, I am very excited. There have been a lot of new changes, obviously, but I think it's all for the better and we have a great looking future for this team. We're really young, but I am very excited for this season."
Can you talk about the chemistry of the team?
"All of the girls got together Aug. 1 and so far our team chemistry is a lot better than last year. Everyone's young and really willing to trust others, trust their teammates. We just haven't had any problems."
Trust in what ways?
"We get along outside the court very well. People are constantly getting together in groups and going for ice cream and hanging out at houses and, often in the past, that hasn't happened. It's always been a couple girls, three or four girls; now, it's half our team. It's all of us always wanting to be together and getting along all the time."
What is it like to play for (interim head coach) Irene (Matlock)?
"One big lesson that Irene has been trying to teach us is that we're not out there to play for ourselves; we're out there to do the things for each other. We're playing for the `we,' for the team.
"She's a very intense woman, which is great for practice, but outside of practice, she is a very calm person, has a great sense of humor and is very fun to be around. And when we're playing volleyball, she is intense, she is very competitive and she wants us to strive to do better all the time, so I guess it was kind of the same as (former head coach) Wade (Benson) was. But she can communicate with us differently and I think it's in a better way. She talks to players during practice. It was kind of hard to get used to at first; she's got this very loud, very booming voice, but she told us over and over, `I'm going to yell, but I'm not going to be mad.' At first we're like, `there's no way you're not mad,' because she can yell, but eventually we learned that she does yell, but it is in a very constructive manner, and she is just trying to get us to do things that we need to do. I think we have adjusted to her very well, and things feel very natural in practice now already. I mean, there are so many new players that they really did not know what it was like before, which is good - they didn't really have any adjusting to do."
If you had to describe the team as a whole in one word, what would it be?
What's the team looking to get out of this tournament this weekend?
"It'll be the first time we're getting on the court (for a match), so hopefully it will take away any nerves that some people might have and get a feel for playing on the Eastern team. A lot of the newcomers have no idea what it's going to be like. The few players that are returning, we need to get used to playing together as a team, playing with the new players that we have never played with before. We want to try and come together as a team and play very comfortably, smoothly. We're very excited to get there, because we have been practicing for the last two weeks, 6-7 hours a day. We want to stop doing that and go play. Everyone is very excited to actually go and play. It's obviously different playing each other, which is what we're doing every day, and we're really ready to come together and compete against another team. That's what is really exciting."
What were the biggest adjustments coming from a small town in Saskatchewan and coming here?
"The biggest adjustment probably would be the volleyball (aspect). When you get to college, it's somewhat of a job - you're expected to be at practice; there's no excuse to not go versus at home when you're playing club, if you miss a practice, not a big deal. But everything was an adjustment: being in a brand new town, living in the dorms with a roommate who I play volleyball with (Hayley Hills) and the volleyball, practicing every day, managing your school, your homework, your travel, the volleyball. We miss so much school. Often we miss three days of school out of the week - we did that 2-3 weeks in a row (last year) and that was a big adjustment and it can get tough, but I think I handled it fairly well."
What was it like playing for Canada's junior national team?
"I did that for two summers and really liked it. It definitely prepared me to come here. I left for the summer and I'd be gone all summer, living in dorms, eating in cafeterias, be away from my family and playing volleyball 2-3 times a day, which was great preparation for me to come here, especially in preseason when we're practicing so much. My first summer, I was the setter and the next year, I played libero. I liked it a lot. I got a lot out of it, and it was a great experience."
How did you first get into volleyball?
"When I was little, I always loved volleyball and I kind of knew that I would always play volleyball. I was actually really big into hockey; I played hockey in my town with the boys' team. I played right up until it got physical, when I was 12, then my parents wouldn't let me play anymore because they didn't want me to get hurt, so that was when they took me to the city to play volleyball. I had to travel to Saskatoon to play club there, about a 45-minute drive, and I started that in grade 6. From there, I played with the provincial team one summer when I was 15, the junior national team when I was 16 and 17, and I played with the county games team in 2005."
What most attracted you to volleyball as opposed to going from hockey to basketball or tennis or a different sport?
"It was probably a big influence that volleyball was one of the biggest sports in my school for girls, and I looked up to those girls who played and was always attracted to the sport."
Any other thoughts?
"I'm having a great time so far this year, and I think all the changes that have happened have definitely been for the better. I don't think that we're missing anything and I am incredibly excited to start the season. I can't wait for everyone to get together on the same side of the court and compete against somebody else. Then we can really figure out what we need to do from now on, but it is kind of hard to tell when we're just practicing all the time."