Women's Tennis Q&A: Evgeniya Levashova

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Evgeniya Levashova, a freshman on the Pepperdine's women's tennis team, compares her previous experience on the junior circuit to playing at Pepperdine. She also compares life back in Russia to her life now:

Evgeniya  Levashova

Q: You played very well on the junior circuit. How was that experience for you playing against such good competitors?

A: It was really tough from the beginning. Playing in a lot of good tournaments meant playing a lot of girls who were just as skilled as I was. I had to work very hard and be ready to play in whatever conditions.

Q: How do you compare the girls you played against in the junior circuit to the ones now?

A: It's kind of a different level. When we play top teams it is similar to playing the top girls in the circuit.

Q: Do you prefer singles or doubles?

A: I do both but I prefer singles.

Q: What was your favorite experience in the junior circuit?

A: Just playing matches and of course winning. The Junior European Championship and Masters were great experiences and lots of fun.

Q: What made you choose playing collegiate tennis instead of professional? And what made you choose Pepperdine?

A: Basically, I realized that it is important to have a good education. By going to college I will be better off for life after tennis. As for Pepperdine, when I was young I really liked Los Angeles, it was always my dream to come here. So I really like the location and the coaches played a big part and what they have been able to do with this program.

Q: Have you ever had any big injuries and what did they teach you?

A: Yeah, I have. I had an ACL injury. I feel like it was good for me overall since I realized you have to be prepared for everything. Also before my injury I didn't want to go to college at all, I didn't think about the future, I just wanted to play and go pro. But my injury showed me that I need something to protect myself and that having an education will do that.

Q: How is it playing for Per and Lauren and how did you get in contact with them?

A: I really like them. I knew Lauren was great. As for Per a lot of my friends and coaches said he was a really great coach and person. I had originally got into contact with Mario who was an assistant coach then I met with him. But then I started really talking to Per and now Lauren came and I think they are awesome.

Q: How do they help you with your game?

A: Per is a really good coach. He not only focuses on the movements but the mental aspects. He makes sure we pay attention to the little things, which I think is very helpful. He's taught me what to do between points and after points and how to recover. I also see them helping me outside of tennis with life in general.

Q: How do you like the team overall?

A: I knew Luisa and Ashley before. I knew Luisa since we use played a lot of tournaments together so we knew each other. I heard about Ashley and how she was awesome. When I got here I was nervous meeting everyone but once I did it turned out they liked me and I liked them and we have become a big family. They are all always there for me whether it's about tennis or life. It's really awesome to have a team like this.

Q: How do you compare your life now to back in Russia?

 A: The weather for starters is definitely different. Russia gets cold in the winter where here it just stays the same temperature. The culture and people are also different. But it's not a big difference otherwise. In Russia we play a lot more indoor since it gets cold, but in America they practice here whenever they want.

Q: How are you feeling as we get closer to the postseason?

A: I am really excited. I think we are all good players and we can win these tournaments as long as we all come together and fight to the end. It may not be easy but I think we can do it.

Men's Volleyball Update: Weston Barnes

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With his final two regular-season home matches coming up later this week, senior libero Weston Barnes of the men's volleyball team penned this letter to his younger self:

Weston  Barnes

Dear 18-year-old Wes:

Two and a half years from now, you will be on the court in a ridiculously bright orange jersey. You'll look to the sideline and see Marv Dunphy. You can't tell by the stoic look on his face, but you will have just taken down the #1-ranked team in the country. None of this makes sense to you now, so let me explain.

Right now, you are one week from the start of your four-year college journey. Well actually, you're gonna need five years.

Tomorrow, you're going to get a phone call from your new volleyball coach at George Mason University. He's going to tell you that the captain of your team was hit by a train last night and died.

This will change the dynamic of your team, your college experience and the way you view life. You will see your teammates work themselves into the ground all season long to honor him. Learn from their work ethic.

But you won't be on the court with them. Remember when I told you that you would actually need five years? Well, at the start of the season, you're going to land weird on your left leg and tear your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This is going to absolutely suck. You won't be able to understand why your first year of college has gone the complete opposite direction from which you thought, but don't worry, you'll get it back.

This injury will teach you more about yourself and what you're capable of than you ever could have imagined. SO PUT YOUR HEAD DOWN AND GRIND. Work as hard as you can to come back stronger. The doctor will say that you'll be feeling 100% again in 8-12 months, you won't be, but keep working. Your sophomore year ... well, redshirt freshman now, you will be playing libero. Fourteen months after your ACL surgery, the doctor will have to surgically remove the screws from your knee that are causing you a stress fracture. Again, put your head down and work. You'll be back on the court in four weeks and playing some of the best ball of your career so far.

The summer after your sophomore year you'll get another call from your coach at George Mason. He's going to tell you that he's leaving the program.

You're going to realize that there might be something else out there for you. An opportunity to return home to the West Coast. An opportunity to improve your relationship with your family. An opportunity to play in a new conference against the best teams in the country night after night.

Act on this opportunity, but act fast because summer is almost over and the clock is ticking. Make phone calls, send emails and meet with any coach who is willing to meet with you. Make sure you reach out to David Hunt at Pepperdine and go meet with him. He will tell you that there's a 5% chance that you could attend Pepperdine in the fall.

The uncertainty of where you will spend the next three years of your life will break you, but you'll be prepared to handle it. Take the method of relentless pursuit that you had with your ACL rehab and apply it to the process of transferring.

To this day I am not exactly sure how, but it will work out despite the 5% probability. Pepperdine admissions will open up a transfer application for you and you will have two days to complete it.

A week later you will receive your acceptance to Pepperdine. This is one of those instances where everything just seems to work out beyond your scope of control. Please take the time to properly thank those who made this happen. You will forever be in debt to Jan Ward, Fred Chao, Bob Ctvrtlik, Lynn Fair, Bob Barnes and your parents for the ways they helped you through this process.

Because of this process, you will understand what a privilege it is to go to Pepperdine. Keep the lessons you've learned close because these tools will allow you to thrive here. Enjoy the history of Firestone Fieldhouse, learn the power of interpersonal communication from Coach Dunphy, cherish your conversations with Coach Hunt, and honor the players that came before you by competing as hard as you can every time you step on the court.

The first time you wear that orange jersey, one word will enter your mind and never leave: "FUEGO!" This word embodies who you are on the court and the excitement you feel every time you wear those orange and blue colors.

Your fifth and final year will come quickly, and your teammates will call you an old man, though you will never be as old as your Austrian teammate, Alex Harthaller. The thought of graduating will absolutely terrify you. Pepperdine will become a huge part of your identity, and you will be unsure what life looks like after college. But deep down you will know that your journey through college has prepared you to succeed at the next challenge. Once a Wave, always a Wave.

In this final year, your Pepperdine team will take a road trip back to your old stomping grounds, George Mason University. Wear your blue and orange with pride, but know that you would be nowhere without the guys that had your back in those first two years. 

Oh yeah, by the way, your three years at Pepperdine won't be all sunshine and rainbows. Yes, there will be a lot of beautiful sunshine in Malibu, but when you find yourself in the lowest lows, seek out a coach by the name of Max Rooke. He will teach you how to handle life's greatest challenges. Talk about your feelings, and he will tell you not to let an external force set the limitations of what you can accomplish. Maximize your power and happiness by focusing on what you can control, and don't let the things you can't control limit you.

Much love,

Weston "Fueg Train" Barnes

Women's Soccer Q&A: Brooke Zenner

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Brooke Zenner, a sophomore for the Pepperdine's women's soccer team, reflects on her team's Spring Break trip to Costa Rica and how she felt playing soccer and learning about the culture:

Brooke  Zenner

Q: You and the soccer team went to Costa Rica for spring break. What did you do there?

A: We were super lucky to have the opportunity to go to Costa Rica. We thought we were going to play a lot of soccer but ended up only playing two games, which were very cool experiences since we got to see how teams from another country got to play. We even got to come together with them after. We also did work with a school there called Los Gallitos. This was one of the highlights for me since we were working with children who do not really have the best home life. They go through a really detailed interview process to decide what children go there where they choose the children who need the most help. It was very eye-opening to see what they are going through and we got to hang out and play with them.

Q: What work did you do with the children?

A: We went to their school and they had an outdoor play area so half of us were outside with the older kids and the other half of us were inside with the babies and the infants. We mainly just gave them all our attention and spent the day with them.

Q: Where did you go within Costa Rica?

A: There are a lot of different provinces in Costa Rica but we flew into Guanacaste. This is the part with more beaches, which is where we stayed. We then drove to the capital of Costa Rica, San José, where we got to stay downtown, which was cool. It was really cool to see the differences in areas around Costa Rica; from the Caribbean side, the more agriculture side, then the downtown area.

Q: What else did you do for the mission part of trip while there?

A: We also put on a soccer clinic in San José. There were like a hundred children who came during their PE period or recess time. We basically just played games with them and taught them a little even though they all already knew how to play since soccer is so big down there. It was very fun to love on the kids and just give them attention and enjoy our time.

Q: How did you feel you impacted them or they impacted you?

A: It was definitely a two-way street. We always say how we went to make an impact but we came away with them impacting us. I think it was very eye opening to get out of the Pepperdine bubble and to be able to go to a different country and see that they aren't that different from us and we all love the game of soccer. I also want to be a teacher so it was really special for me to see lots of opportunities to teach abroad. Overall, I think we left an impact of love on them and showed them what Pepperdine is about, but they definitely left a bigger imprint on us.

Q: What other activities did you do while there?

A: We went zip lining while we were there, which was super fun but kind of scary since you had to rock climb in-between zip lines. Some of us were freaking out! We also got to go on a catamaran where we got to go snorkeling and just hang out on the boat. One of the excursion highlights was a waterfall nature hike that was also a zoo in the rainforest part of Costa Rica. The animals were all exotic animals that used to be illegally owned as pets. We saw cute monkeys and cheetahs and not to mention these four gorgeous waterfalls, which was really cool since when I think of Costa Rica, I think of the rain forest part.

Q: What food did you eat?

A: The food was so good! Every day we would have rice, chicken and beef, especially at a buffet where we ate so much. At this restaurant in San José we had the most delicious empanadas, rice, chicken and chips.

Q: What soccer teams did you play and what differences did you see?

A: We played against Saprissa and Liberia. The first team we played said we played a lot more by position, where they play more fluid and will move around more. But there are pretty much the same principles of trying to pass more, which was cool to see that there are similarities from two different teams around the world.

Q: What did you get out of the trip?

A: I didn't really know what to expect going in. I just kept an open mind and to be ready for whatever. It turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life because we did so much. It was fun, yes, but more importantly we got to see and learn about a different country and culture. For me the highlight was working with the kids both at soccer and at the school. It is always very eye opening when I travel. We also didn't have our phones, which was actually nice because we were able to disconnect and connect with the team.

Q: Do you have any other takeaways from this experience?

A: It was one of the best weeks of my life. My biggest takeaway is how grateful my whole team was to get such a cool opportunity and experience that not a lot of people get.

Men's Golf Q&A: Clay Feagler

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Sophomore men's golfer Clay Feagler tells us about his recent success, including his victory at the Prestige at PGA West, and what that means for himself and the team going forward:

Clay  Feagler

Q: What's your mindset going into each tournament?
My mindset in the fall was to just play well but I didn't end up having a very good season. My mindset now is to go out and actually try to win.

Q: How do you warm up at the beginning of a tournament?

A: My routine starts with eating breakfast, going to the putting green and then going to the chipping green. I don't like to warm up too much because then I'll get too tired for the first round.

Q: You've had an excellent spring season so far, what's working for you?

A: Confidence has really helped. After my win at the Prestige, my confidence was really boosted. I haven't changed my stroke or anything but just knowing that I am capable of not only competing but winning has really helped.

Q: What did you change from the fall to the spring season?

A: Golf-wise I didn't change anything, but I really adjusted my mental approach. I not only want to play well but to win. Having people beside me who have the shared belief in my abilities as I do has really helped with my success.

Q: What did it mean to win your first college tournament?

A: One of my biggest of accomplishments ever, especially in college. It didn't sink in until I got home because I was still in shock. It really meant a lot, though, because that's what I'm here for, I'm here to compete and to win both individually and as a team.

Q: What was most memorable about that win?

A: The birdie on 17 by far. I had 60 feet and I made it. It felt so good to make a clutch putt to win the tournament. God was definitely shining down on me in that moment and it felt amazing.

Q: The most recent event, the Southern Highlands Collegiate, is one of the best tournaments in the country each year, so how did it feel to do so well at that one?    

A: It's always nice to do well at a great event. I tied for 20th last year and followed up this year with a tie for third. Based off my recent success this season, the extra confidence is definitely what helped me.

Q: What are you hoping to accomplish during the rest of the season?

A: The team goal would be to get to match play at NCAAs. That has always been a dream of mine, to compete as a team and win a national championship. Personally, I just want to keep on the path that I'm currently on and see how I can progress. My main focus is on the team and doing whatever I can to contribute to the whole team's success.

Baseball Q&A: Wil Jensen

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Wil Jensen, a sophomore right-handed pitcher on the Pepperdine's baseball team, tells us about how he is feeling about his tremendous start to the season (3-0, 0.62 ERA in 29.0 innings) and where he hopes to go from here:

Wil  Jensen

Q: Your season has been off to a good start. How are you feeling about playing at this level?

A: Honestly, I am excited but I know how baseball is the most humbling game. You can never let yourself get a big head because then you won't be able to maintain consistent success. I am just trying to stay focused on what I have been doing, keep it the same, keep working on throwing strikes and hitting my spots and I think it has been working out.

Q: How have you been pitching so well? Do you have any secrets or rituals?

A: Our pitching coach is huge into the mental side of baseball and I think he is a genius. He has us do a lot of visualization and picturing yourself having success. Last year I remember doubting myself at different times, not necessarily when I was on the mound, but before the game. But this year if I think a bad thought I will instantly dismiss it and convince myself I can do it and I feel like it has been working. I also started throwing a different pitch, a slider, where it looks like a fastball but at the last second it drops, so that has helped a ton. Throwing strikes also helps because it builds confidence, versus when you walk somebody and give them a free base, that's demoralizing since there is almost always a direct correlation between walks and runs scored. Basically just limiting the walks and any freebies, and by stopping that will lead to success in my opinion.

Q: What do you expect from yourself from this point on?

A: I think that goes along with the mental side of it. I need to just continue to do what I am doing and not let the game speed up. Hopefully it will keep lining up and I'll keep having success.

Q: How does it feel to be Pepperdine's ace?

A: It's awesome. I got to watch two guys last year that were ahead of me and to see how they approached it every time they were about to pitch. That was a great learning experience because now I will take bits and pieces from them and apply it to myself on the mound. It is exciting because my hope for whenever I am pitching is that we have confidence that we can win any game. To have people be able to rely on me is a nice feeling.

Q: How do you feel you have grown from last year to this year?

A: Strength-wise I've had a huge increase since I came in last year at like 150. So from then I have gained a lot of strength, weight and a little bit of velocity. I have come from 88 mph last year to a consistent 90-91. Also mentally, I just don't doubt myself like I used to.

Q: What are your goals this season for the team and for yourself?

A: For the team I think I speak for all the guys in that we want to go to the College World Series in Omaha, which I think we can. This year I think our team is stacked and we can be really good as long as we just focus on staying consistent with pitching and hitting. If we do that I think we would be able to beat anyone. For my personal goals I'd love to keep my ERA below a 3 and a lot more wins than losses. I'd also like to try and double my strikeouts from last year, which I think I can do since I added my new pitch.

Q: Do you feel offseason workouts helped the team bond and have led to why you are doing well now?

A: We do this workout called down-backs, which are just awful. Every Tuesday morning last fall at 5:30 a.m., and there is just no way you don't come together with the guys when you are all going through the same pain. Our trainer acts super tough at that time by yelling at us and all that and the only way you can succeed is if you are picking up your team. So now I think we all really like each other and get along, which is awesome. I think these past experiences are playing a role now in helping us win games. Especially with the help from our strength coach who is such a great guy and really knows how to bring the team together.

Q: Are there any upcoming games you are excited for?

A: I am from Utah and was recruited by BYU a little bit. But last year I pitched against BYU and threw probably one of my worst games. So I am excited to do the opposite this year.

Q: How long have you been playing baseball?

A: Probably since I was like 4 or 5, back in the tee ball days. I definitely have had a lot of reps on my arm.

Q: What made you pick pitcher as your position?

A: In high school I played second base, a little shortstop, and I hit too. I am not going to lie but in the end that is what I am in love with when it comes to baseball. I would also pitch and that is what I feel I was most successful in. When you get to college you have to decide to be a pitcher full time or a position player full time. If I wanted to go to a school with a baseball background like this, I had to decide which I was best at. In high school pitching was always a second thing but now it is cool to focus solely on pitching, different pitches, repetition and other ways to get better. Plus, I think it is cool to see how just being a pitcher has helped me in the long run.

Q: Why Pepperdine?

A: First off, even though I know everyone says this, but the view is unbelievable. But mainly I know how hard it is to make it to the MLB so I had to think out of all the schools, which has the most academic integrity. A degree from Pepperdine is top notch. The coaches, especially the pitching coach, are awesome. I love him since he was different than the other pitching coaches I met. He is the nicest guy I've ever met and he knows every pitcher is different, plus his views on the mental game have helped. Finally, I wanted to go to a school for baseball where I could make a difference right away and get better right away. I felt like I was wanted here. Last year I got to start on Sundays to where I am now I feel like I can have a sort of leadership role, which is really cool and makes it fun.

Beach Volleyball Q&A: Brook Bauer

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Freshman beach volleyball player Brook Bauer tells us about moving across the country and her excitement about starting her first college season:

Brook  Bauer

Q: What helped you make the choice to move from Florida to California to play college beach volleyball?

A: I made the choice to come out here because, as much as I love Florida, I've always wanted to live in California. Pepperdine and its beach volleyball program were huge magnets in my decision to make the move across the country. 

Q: How has your experience competing at Zuma Beach been so far?

A: I love practicing at Zuma. We are so blessed to be the only team in the country to have the opportunity to practice at a true beach every single day. It also doesn't hurt that we get to whale watch for free too! Zuma has prepared us for just about every weather condition, from 100-degree days to quick incoming fog, rain, wind and cold temperatures. We are so grateful to be able to call it our home.

Q: What kind of team dynamic and chemistry does the beach volleyball team have?

A: The beach volleyball team's dynamic and chemistry is unlike anything I've ever been a part of. It's amazing how our intensity in training and practice can be so high, yet everyone on our team is such good friends and cares so genuinely for each other. The environment is cohesive and we all love to compete together as one unit.

Q: You played at the same high school as Nikki Lyons, Did you two know each other before coming to play here?

A: Yes, I've known Nikki for around five years and played in high school with her, so she has been one of my best friends for a while.

Q: Which upperclassman has had an impact on you so far and why?

A: Nikki has had a huge influence on my freshman year. The fact that she has had experience here at Pepperdine now for three years made my entering in a lot smoother, as she is always there for me when I have questions or dilemmas. I'm so lucky to have a mentor and close friend like her at the same school and on the same team as me.

Q: What are you looking forward to most in this season?

A: I am so excited for this season to start. I'm looking forward to finally being able to represent Pepperdine and compete as a team against other schools. I'm also looking forward to traveling and making more memories on and off the court with my teammates.

Q: What can we expect from the beach volleyball team this season?

A: You can be sure to expect a ton of energy and excitement for the game and an intensity level focused on bringing back a national championship for the Waves!

Baseball Q&A: Aharon Modlin

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Aharon Modlin, a sophomore infielder on the Pepperdine baseball team, discusses his expectations for the team and plans for a successful 2018 season:

Aharon  Modlin

Q: Heading into your second season as a Wave, what expectations do you have for the team?

A: I expect a lot out of the team this year. Ultimately, our goal is to go to Omaha and win a national championship, but it starts by going out there and winning our conference first.

Q: Last season you had the second-best batting average on the team. How did you adapt so well coming in as a freshman?

A: At the beginning it was challenging, but as the year went on I became more and more comfortable with my role. There were many late nights in the cage working on my swing, which definitely helped.

Q: After the season you had last year, what expectations do you have for yourself this upcoming season?

A: I'm always looking to learn from my teammates and coaches and improve. This year I'd like to increase the amount of quality at-bats I have, whether that's in walks, hits or executing for the team.

Q: How do you envision your role on the team changing from your freshman to sophomore year?

A: As a freshman, I was excited to just be a part of the team. This year I think my role involves more leadership because I have a year under my belt. I'm able to help the freshmen who haven't experienced a D-I season yet. Whether it's on the field or in the dugout I'm looking forward to helping our team win.

Q: Coming from Irvine, what made you choose Pepperdine?

A: I felt it was the best place for me to develop as a baseball player, as well as get a top-notch education. The location is great and it allows me to drive home and see my family easily.

Q: As a Pepperdine Scholar-Athlete, what things do you do to maintain success both in academics and athletics?

A: There's a lot of time management involved every day. I've taken advantage of the great facilities we have on campus, like the new library. I can go in there and get my work done before and after practice and not get behind in my classes. As for baseball, we have a culture that encourages early work before practices so we can do drills to improve.

Q: What or who would you say has been your biggest inspiration or motivation thus far in your baseball career?

A: My parents have been great role models throughout my life. I've learned a lot about hard work and dedication from them. They taught me how to deal with failure and have a positive mindset, which has helped a lot as my baseball career goes on.

Q: Any games you're particularly excited about this season?

A: We play a midweek game against Cal State Fullerton, which is exciting. They were a team that made it to Omaha last year and are known to always have a great program so it'll be a good test for us.

Women's Golf Q&A: Hira Naveed

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Hira Naveed is a junior who plays for the women's golf team at Pepperdine. The Waves begin the spring season next week at their own Bruin Wave Invitational. She tells us how she has stayed in form during the break between the fall and spring seasons:

Hira  Naveed

Q: What are your feelings toward spring season?

A: I am super excited. I think we all are since it's the big season where we really need to perform. We are all just itching to get out there because it has been a long time since we last competed. Even the coaches are really hyped up to perform.

Q: There is a large break between seasons with your sport. How do you stay playing and competing at a high level during that off time?

A: I just keep my routine going and keep practicing. This down time is good for us because we can really work on our game and hone in on our weaknesses and try to get better with those aspects of the game. The break is also nice because it gives me a chance to focus on my academics and also the ability to go home and see family during the winter, which is nice.

Q: What are your goals for the upcoming spring?

A: For this upcoming event I hope to have a good finish within the top 10 since it is a great field and we get to compete against great players. It would really help my ranking to finish higher up as well as being a good confidence booster. For the season, my goal is to finish high in all the events and even get a win in there somewhere, which would kick-start a few things for me. Just to perform at my best is what I want to be able to do. While as a team goal, I think it would be really great for us to win a tournament since the spring tournaments are much tougher.

Q: Last year you went to the NCAA Championships. Does that give you motivation to get back to that spot?

A: Oh yeah, definitely. Last year we did really well at regionals and made it to nationals, which was our goal. But at the Championships we did not really perform to the best of our abilities. That then translates to this year and gives us a real fire in the belly to of course get back there, but also perform better once there and help our team go forward.

Q: How did you feel about your play last season after having one of the best scoring averages?

A: Last season wasn't the best, but it wasn't the worst either. It was tough. A lot of tournaments I knew I didn't play to the best of my ability. Mentally I didn't feel quite there in a lot of the events. But at some I did do well. Hopefully this season I will be able to do much better.

Q: What have you been doing to improve your game during the long break?

A: I actually managed to get a tournament in there back home in Australia. Which was a great field of players and I managed to get to the semifinals. I also worked a lot on honing the very small aspects of the game that we don't tend to look at and I think by improving those parts it will make the bigger picture much better.

Q: How do you feel about your coaches?

A: I have a great relationship with Coach Gibbs and Coach Katie. Coach Katie is really fun and relatable. She tells us about her experiences with college where she played so it is great to get feedback from her time to time. Then with Coach Gibbs, without her, I wouldn't even be here. She means a lot to me both personally and professionally; she is almost like a mother.

Q: What are your thoughts about playing at Pepperdine and on the team overall?

A: Pepperdine is a place that is filled with great people who are all very supportive. With the team, the girls are a very fun bunch. Every day, there is something funny happening at practice. We all get along very well even while we are all from different countries with there being a lot of international players on the team. We all are able to come together as a group and get the job done.

Track Q&A: Kevin Maeda

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Kevin Maeda, a senior who has spent four years with the cross country and track teams, reflects on his time running for Pepperdine and explains his excitement for the program's future. He also talks about what his postgraduate plans are:

Kevin  Maeda

Q: It is your final semester of college running. What are your feelings right now?

A: It's definitely bittersweet. I have recognized that running and all that have to come to an end. This is the first season of track where I am coming in completely healthy so I am excited to see how well I can do and show how much I have grown and improved here as a runner. Being able to see that come to fruition will be very exciting.

Q: How did you feel about your final cross country season in the fall?

A: I think it ended on a really good note. There was a mid-season lull where I felt I was struggling with many different things in my life. But once I found peace with those things I noticed my running started to improve along with it. Coach Rad and Coach Emma did a great job helping me come back to a place where I could enjoy running, which ended with me having a really great race at Regionals. I am grateful for the season I had and am happy with how it ended.

Q: What are you most looking forward to for spring track season?

A: I am definitely a distance runner. I feel I prosper in longer races. I am looking forward to running the 5K. The meets I am looking forward to are UCI and UCLA. UCI is a very competitive meet and we normally run the 5K there. Then at UCLA I will hopefully place into the seeded race and get to run against some of the fastest runners in the state. During our cross country meet with them we felt very competitive against them. Getting exposure to guys who are running 14 flat I think is very good for our program.

Q: Do you think the track and cross country programs are headed in a good direction?

A: The future for this program is bright. The freshmen we have right now are fantastic. It has been great being able to spend more time with the freshmen compared to previous seasons. We feel more like a collective unit this season. I feel that I have shown them how I operate, which I hope has helped them mature from a high school runner to a college runner. I've been trying to share wisdom with them whenever I can. I have been able to share my knowledge of how our coach operates with the younger guys on the team in hopes they will be able to master it faster than I did.

Q: What are you goals for the upcoming track season?

A: When setting my goals I made sure that they were just high enough where I have to work very hard. In the past I have run a 14:54 but that was sophomore year. Right now my goal for the 5K is to run a sub-14:30. I feel that I can attain this after coming off probably my best cross country season. But I think I will have a better understanding of a time goal after the first couple of meets since I will be able to see what I am capable of. If I had to give a time for the 3K I would say around 8:35, which would be a great start to the season.

Q: How have injuries affected your running career and mindset at Pepperdine?

A: I have had a number of injuries. They got bad enough that I didn't even run track sophomore year. But my mindset I feel is better than ever. I think this is my season to come back and show others and myself what I am fully capable of.

Q: As a senior what are you trying to do to lead the underclassmen? Is there anything you want to leave for the program?

A: Ultimately I just want to share what I have done with them so they are able to reflect on that and shape what they want their experience here to be. I want our men's team to flourish these next few years especially with the high potential of the freshmen. I know how great they can be and I want them to be able to see that too. I know they can be top four in conference against some very respectable teams. I have also been trying to educate them with what their academic journey can lead them to.

Q: You are the co-president of the Waves Leadership Council. Are there any interesting initiatives or plans for this spring?

A: Yes, we are always pretty busy. Throughout my years here I think that participation has increased in a huge way. In the spring we are planning to partner with Relay for Life. Our major plan for the end of April is a huge beach cleanup in Santa Monica before the WCC Beach Volleyball Championships.

Q: What are your post-grad plans?

A: During the summer I was applying to dental school and taking tests. A large part of my fall semester was participating in interviews for a few different colleges. I have chosen to go to UCLA. Starting in the fall of 2018 I will be going to UCLA dental school, starting my next four years of schooling. After that, I can hopefully go into a specialty program, potentially orthodontia.

Q: What are you going to miss most about Pepperdine?

A: Pepperdine has made me into the man I am today. I felt like I came here with a good foundation set by my family but thanks to Pepperdine and everyone here I have been able to flourish and grow more than I ever thought was possible. I am going to miss the competition of running for sure, along with mentoring the younger runners. Running for a university is something I will never be able to replicate. I will miss Coach Rad; he has been huge in my development as a person. He was always super encouraging and gave me the confidence I need to pursue life without fear. Finally, I will miss the community I have garnered here at Pepperdine and all the friends I have made. Luckily UCLA isn't too far away so I will make trips back here and help out in whatever ways I can.

Men's Basketball Q&A: Kameron Edwards

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Kameron Edwards is a redshirt sophomore on the Pepperdine's men's basketball team. He explains what it was like to be out for a month due to a concussion, along with how he feels he has grown as a player while at Pepperdine:

Kameron  Edwards

Q: You were injured for about a month. What was it like having to sit out that time due to your injury?

A: It wasn't that bad actually because last year I had to redshirt due to injury. This year I was hurt for a little bit, but I knew I would be back before the end of the season, so it was a lot better than last year. On top of that, since it was a concussion, I knew there was nothing I could do about it. It was kind of out of my control. It wasn't as bad as you might think.

Q: With your injury being a concussion were you allowed to do anything while recovering?

A: For the whole month I pretty much couldn't do anything. I wasn't even able to take my finals. At practices I just sat around. I could do a little bit of biking, some sit-ups and push-ups but nothing else. It was tough since it was the middle of the season and I felt like I was declining as everyone else was getting better.

Q: How did you feel being back on the court right after you were cleared?

A: I was kind of just thrown back into things. After having to sit out for a month, then going through two full practices, then a game. I was playing within two days of getting cleared. I was out of shape for one, then a little rusty. I wasn't sure if I was completely ready but I had to go with it and do my best.

Q: Did you feel like you had to work harder to come back?

A: Yeah, that's something I had to be careful with. I tried to work a little harder but at the same time I knew I wasn't going to get it all back in one day. I had to be patient. I was only out for a month so I didn't lose everything. I really just had to be patient knowing it will come back.

Q: How do you compare having a concussion to another more regular injury?

A: I think it's a lot worse because you can't do anything. Say if I had hurt my ankle, I could still lift and go to class. But with a concussion you can't use your brain at all.

Q: How do you think your injury affected the team?

A: I think at first when we found out I was going to be out it affected morale a lot. But they also knew I was going to be back. Morale was down a bit but there was definitely hope that I was going to be back.

Q: What is your goal for the remainder of the season?

A: We are just trying to get better every game. Obviously this season isn't going how we would like. We are still trying to learn and improve so we have to come to work everyday. We also know we have a lot of young talent so the years to come should be pretty good. Our mindset is that no matter if we win or lose we have to get better.

Q: Your brother is a senior in high school and has committed to Pepperdine. How do you feel knowing you are going to get to play with him next year?

A: We were able to play together my senior year of high school since he was a freshman on varsity. It was a lot of fun. I am excited. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity so of course I am going to cherish it. It will have its ups and downs but it's going to be a blast. I honestly can't wait. He is a really good player both mentally and physically.

Q: How much have you grown as a player since freshman year?

A: I'd say my biggest growth since freshman year is mentally. I have to say freshman year I was not very confident. I was only a freshman back then, I was the only guy who didn't know a lot of stuff. So practices were focused on me since I would be the one who was messing up. But now I'm sort of a veteran on the team and now I know so much more, which really helps me on the court and my confidence is a lot better this year.

Q: How have you felt being at Pepperdine the last few years?

A: I've enjoyed it overall. I mean just waking up to that view everyday is something to be grateful for. I get to be close home and play Division I basketball.  My family gets to come to all the games and I still get to see my old friends. Going to a great academic and great athletic school has been really nice. I have enjoyed my experience so far for sure.

Q: You have earned Scholar-Athlete awards the last two years. What does that mean to you?

A: It means a lot, especially since I know that's what my parents want. My goal was to keep a 3.0 or higher throughout college, which is pretty tough with our schedule. It takes a lot out of me with all the time constraints but I am happy to be able to keep doing well and get that recognition for it.


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