After another great week in volleyball, the Friday blog is back, and this time, we will be kicking off a multi-part series of interviews with Indiana Hoosier defensive specialist Melanie Hicks. You will find that many of the girls in this series are from the Midwest region, specifically Louisville, Kentucky. This is in part due to the fact that these are some old friends of mine, and in case you haven't guessed, they are all fairly close with each other as well. For some background on Melanie, she attended Assumption High School in Louisville, which is a national powerhouse in the high school volleyball scene. She was part of both JVA (2009) and AAU (2006) national championship squads, and she held AAU All-American honors in her 2005 and 2006 seasons. As for school, she is currently a sophomore majoring in interior design. It took me a while to get ahold of Melanie this week, but earlier today, I managed to catch her after practice for a few questions:
What made you want to play for the Indiana Hoosiers?
"I knew that I didn't want to be that far away from home, so that my mom and family could come watch me play. Also, it's about an hour and a half drive, so if I ever get homesick, I can always drive home and see my friends and family. Also, the competition of play is amazing. We play in the Big Ten, which is arguably the best conference in college volleyball right now. Like tonight, I get the chance to play the #1 team in the nation, which is not something that everybody gets to do in the regular season."
Before you made the decision to play collegiately, were you weighing any other options?
"Well, I definitely knew that this was going to be like a job, but I just thought it would be really weird to drop volleyball, which has been such a huge part of my life. You have some days where you really dread it and just wonder what it's like to be a regular student, but for me, I'd rather dread it, than to not have it all."
What are your thoughts on playing #1 Illinois tonight?
"We were talking about it as a team, considering it's their first time being ranked number one, all of the pressure is going to be on them. Whereas we can just go out there and play and have fun with it. It should be exciting."
What's your favorite part of being an NCAA student-athlete?
"The perks and all that are great, but I'd say that the relationships I have with my teammates are my favorite part. A lot of people have that with sports in high school, but I still get to have the opportunity to continue building relationships, and these girls (her teammates) are my best friends, so I think it's great that I can still do that."
What's your least favorite part of being an NCAA student-athlete?
"I really don't have a lot of free time. My schedule gets pretty hectic sometimes, and anyone is going to say that they don't want to get up at six every morning in the Spring, but hey, it's all to get better."
Does your team have any interesting habits before or after the game?
"Like most teams, we will listen to music and that stuff, but one thing that really stood out to me was that we pray before every game, and Mary [Chaudoin], our senior captain, does the prayer. We also have an ace cheer that incorporates the 'Movin' like Bernie' song/dance into it, you know, we're all just trying to have fun with it."
Is there something about IU Volleyball that most people don't know that they should?
"Everyone on our team comes in every day with that passion and drive to get better. Right now we're trying to build our program, and we're trying to start a great tradition, so we put in the extra hours. And I think it's different because it's not just one or two of us, it's all of us, and we're also really helping one another when we do that as well."
Where did you want to be at this age when you were a kid?
"When I started playing sports, I knew I wanted to play in college. But the funny thing is, I always wanted to play basketball, because I was awful at volleyball for a while in grade school. But once I started playing club and that type of stuff, I became determined to play in college, and here I am. So I guess you could say I'm living out my dream, which is pretty awesome."
Where do you want to be in ten years?
"I'd like to hope for a job, you know like a good career. It's really scary to think about being married and all that. I really just want to be happy with whatever I am doing, and if that pans out, I'm sure I'll be content. Then again, everyone always asks me if I want to become a coach, and I'd really like to still be around volleyball, but I'm not sure just yet if I'd want to coach or not."
What has been your highlight of the season thus far?
"We got to play a preseason tournament in San Diego. That was really neat for me, considering I've never been to California, and I got to touch the Pacific Ocean for the first time. It was also really cool to play the West Coast teams that we normally don't get the chance to play."
What are you looking forward to the most for the rest of the season?
"Mainly just being able to compete with the top teams in the nation now that conference play is starting. Plus we get to play Nebraska for the first time, and they're having a really good season so far, and I can't wait to encounter that atmosphere, which will be next weekend."
Melanie and the Hoosiers will be in Champagne, Illinois tonight as they take on #1 Illinois. I'd like to wish them good luck with tonight's game and the rest of season. I'd also like to give special thanks to Melanie and the Indiana Athletic Department for making this interview possible. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. Thanks for reading!