Women's Soccer Q&A: Brielle Preece

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Redshirt junior Brielle Preece, the starting goalkeeper for the Pepperdine women's soccer team, recently earned the WCC Player of the Week award for her efforts against DePaul and Northwestern. She tells us about her outstanding start of the season and their team's goals for the rest of the season:

Brielle  Preece

Q:  Who influenced you to start playing soccer?

A: My parents put me in soccer to begin with but one person who really inspired me was my coach Dave. When I was really young and playing rec soccer he inspired me and pushed me to be a goalie.

Q: How does it feel, as the starting goalkeeper, to be such an integral part of the team this year?

A: It feels great. It's been a long time coming, personally. The past three years I've been behind a really amazing goalie, Hannah Seabert, but it just makes it even better knowing that I put in three years of hard work leading up to this year and then finally earning the spot.

Q: What were your goals going into this year, knowing you'd be the starting goalkeeper?

A: I don't think that I knew I was going to be the starting goalie because things always change. It was a goal of mine to be a starter but I was also just aiming to be the best player that I can be and to be a leader on this team who can inspire the girls.

Q: How did it feel to win the WCC Player of the Week award?

A: It was honestly kind of shocking. It was not something I ever expected. I remember getting a text message from one of my teammates that said, "Congrats!" and I was really confused because I didn't know what it was for. Winning it was really motivational because it was a testament for all of the hard work that I have put in.

Q: You were leading the WCC in goals-against average. Can you tell us a little bit about your mindset going into each game?

A: My mindset going into each game is to get the job done. I think that the average is an average for our entire defensive line. It's not just me making stops, it's the whole team. I think the mindset is that if everyone does their part, we have a good chance at success.

Q: You had an amazing game against UCLA this past weekend with a career high of nine saves. How did it feel for the Waves to tie the #1-ranked team, UCLA?

A: It was awesome! It was a feeling that all of our hard work has been put into action and is finally showing. Coming off of that win is what really inspired us to really complete the mission on Sunday and defeat UCI. It was a great feeling collectively because I think everyone played outstanding.

Q: How are you feeling about the rest of your season, coming off of last year's WCC conference championship?

A: We're all really excited. I think we have the opportunity to do some really amazing things this season. We're all motivated going into conference to complete each mission by taking each game one at a time.

Q: What are your plans after this year?

A: I'm a redshirt junior so my plan is to come back and play one more season next year. Then after graduation I plan on going to physical therapy school.

Men's Water Polo Q&A: Marko Asic

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Junior attacker Marko Asic of the men's water polo team recently represented the United States in the World University games in Taipei, Taiwan. He shared with us his experience and plans for the new season:

Marko  Asic

Q: You recently played for the U.S. at the World University Games in Taiwan. How did you feel when you found out you were selected to play for the U.S.?

A: It was a little bittersweet because I knew that I wasn't going to be practicing with Pepperdine over the summer. But getting selected as one of 13 players to represent the USA was pretty indescribable.

Q: Can you tell me about your overall experience competing in another country?

A: It was fun! My favorite part about it was seeing how different countries play water polo. Japan is super unorthodox, Russia is very grab and go, and then there's Australia, which plays similar to how we do, but more driving and getting the ball to center.

Q: How did the team dynamic differ from that of the Pepperdine team?

A: We didn't have our first practice until five days before our first game. Then there's a team like Japan who have the same teams that they brought to the World Championships the month before and therefore had a lot of experience playing with one another. We kind of just came in guns blazing.

Q: What were the highlights of competing for the national team in Taiwan?

A: One highlight was being able to play against different countries. Playing in Taiwan was awesome in itself. We were able to play in a few different pools while we were there, but the championship pool had 10,000 seats in it and a huge camera for replays that would zoom in on you during starting lineups which was really cool.

Q: How did you feel about the outcome of the games this summer?

A: We got ninth out of 16, which I was pretty bummed about. We tied Russia in our group and they ended up getting second place in the whole tournament. Then we lost to Italy by only three points to get into the top eight and Italy ended up getting third place overall. We were right there along with everyone. We just had a bad game against Italy because we couldn't finish all the opportunities that presented themselves during the game. I think that if we'd had more practices together and time to prepare we could have seen a better outcome.

Q: How did you feel coming back from Taiwan and jumping straight into water polo season for Pepperdine?

A: It's been a grind this entire summer. I was living at home all summer training with the national team and our schedule included having weights at 5:15 a.m., then practice until 9 a.m., then another practice in the evening from 7 to 9:30 p.m. every day. Honestly, I got really burnt out this summer, but the best part was after it all, I got to come home to my family here at Pepperdine, which is reenergizing.

Q: How do you feel about this college season, especially coming off of last year's GCC championship win?

A: We are currently doing pretty well and I think we were undefeated over the summer as well, so we definitely have a huge target on our backs trying to defend our title.

Q: Do you have goals to play professional water polo after you graduate from Pepperdine?

A: Yes, it's been my dream since I was 10 years old, when I found out that I could play water polo as a job and that's what I've been putting my mind toward. Now, having grown up a little more, I'm wondering if I want to put my life on pause for however many years and possibly have to go back to school again. We'll see where I am after senior year, but as of right now it's definitely an option.

Men's Tennis Update: Dane Esses

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Sophomore Dane Esses of the Pepperdine men's tennis team reflects on the ups and downs of his freshman season and how his teammates made it all worthwhile:

Dane  Esses


After a heartbreaking 4-3 loss that ended our season and concluded my freshman year, I was scrambling to figure out how I was going to spend my summer. The way I have always spent my summers and free time has revolved around my tennis schedule.


I think I can speak for everyone on the team when I say that losing in the conference finals was a very hard way to end the season. For the vast majority of the season both my teammates and I had some very good stretches on the court. It was crazy to think that after all of the good times and hard work, that one 4-3 decision ultimately determined the fate of our season.


As I took time off and spent some time with family I realized some very important things that I wanted to share. Firstly, I realized that the concept of acceptance and the ability to accept both the good and tough times is crucial in order to live a fulfilling life. Even though our season ended in a way I didn't expect, I personally could not have asked for a better first year at Pepperdine.


The focal point of that statement comes from my teammates and coaches. Through thick and thin, I truly would not pick any other combination of 12 guys to spend my first year with. Whether we won an epic dual match or lost a heart-breaking 4-3 match, that never determined how much we believed in each other or how much we supported each other. When you have teammates that are there to pick you up during the toughest of times, playing for Pepperdine is such a privilege.


I can recall a time that I lost a clinching match to lose a dual match 4-3, and the great amount of sadness that I felt. I can remember, though, in the van on our way back my teammates telling me how proud they were and that they had no doubts I would bounce back and still have a great season. That kind of brotherhood and friendship makes it easy to play with such passion and energy that the Pepperdine culture is known for.


When I reflect on these memories, it makes it easier to accept how our season ended and to move on and be stronger next year. In life, we can always say, 'I wish I would have done this, or I should have done that,' but the matter of fact is that we have to accept our situations and put our best foot forward. We can always wish we did things differently, but we must also appreciate and cherish the good times that we have. If we only think about what we should have done differently, we will never feel accomplished or have peace with ourselves. That applies to tennis and also life in general.


Overall, I realized this summer how much I missed my teammates and playing for Pepperdine. With a new mindset and sense of appreciation for all of the good memories that Pepperdine brought me during my first year, I'm more ready than ever to step on court with my teammates and work together towards achieving our goals.

David Wieczorek, a junior outside hitter on the men's volleyball team, played for the U.S. National Team this summer. He shared what this opportunity meant to him and his goals for the upcoming season:

David  Wieczorek

Q: This summer you had to opportunity to play for the U.S. National Team! What was the process of getting invited and making the team like?

A: The process was really just an email from the assistant coach. The email came toward the end of the season and they were pretty interested. I think it speaks to how you play during the season and how your name gets out. They are looking at who is doing what in the college season. Matt Fuerbringer emailed me and we had a good dialogue going. Then I got the invite.

Q: Was playing for the national team something you had always wanted to do?

A: It was definitely the ultimate goal. It has been my dream ever since I was a little kid to do it. Probably since I was three years old, I always wanted to play for the National Team. Hopefully I can continue to do it.

Q: While you were playing on the team, where did you get to travel to and what did you do there?

A: We were mainly practicing in Anaheim the whole summer and the majority of the team got to travel all over. Since I was the second-youngest guy in the gym, I stayed in Anaheim training. When I got to travel, I went to Canada and got to play in the Pan American Games, which was awesome.

Q: How does playing for the national team compare to playing for Pepperdine?

A: Pepperdine prepared me pretty well because Marv (Dunphy), Dave (Hunt), and (Sean) Rooney have all had experience with the national team. Rooney has a gold medal playing for the team, Marv has a gold medal coaching and Dave has been with the women's team forever. You can see the resemblance between training at Pepperdine and training for the national team. Things are pretty similar like the standards set, the technique and form. The only difference is not playing with people who get recruited to your school. They are from all over.

Q: What was it like being teammates with players that you have been playing against in the past?

A: The first week it was kind of weird getting used to. I played against these people for two years, so when I went up against them I thought, "Oh I don't really like that guy." After being there, they are probably some of the best friends I had. They are really good guys. Even the guys who I was competing with for spots were really good guys and good friends. There were some really cool bonds created.

Q: While in the Pan American Cup, you played against a former Pepperdine alum in Maurice Torres, who plays for Puerto Rico. Did you get the chance to talk with him while you were there?

A: I actually ran into him in the elevator at our hotel and we talked the last night. He was so genuine and really nice. You could tell he was a Wave. He played really well during the tournament. His level was above and beyond a lot of the players there and it was really cool to see.

Q: How will this experience affect you moving forward in your volleyball career?

A: I think the opportunity to be at the USA gym was incredible and a dream come true. I want to definitely go back and hopefully I will get the invite. Things went really well this summer. Getting in those reps over the four months this summer did wonders for my game. Every aspect of my game improved and I am excited to see that come out in this gym. It has given me a lot of confidence being able to play at that level with those guys and compete and realize that I belong there, and in certain instances I can beat them. It has been good for my own mental confidence.

Q: What was your favorite part of being a part of the national team?

A: There were two things. The experience of getting to play with and represent the U.S, while also working with some of the best coaches was amazing. Also, getting to know the guys that I would normally play against and becoming good friends with them. It was like a family in a way. We were training for four months and got to play. It was incredible to be able to play and enhance my game while also creating great relationships and realizing these guys are awesome.

Q: You also had a switch of coaches over this summer. What are your thoughts on Marv Dunphy retiring and David Hunt being named head coach?

A: First and foremost, Marv is awesome. He is still around, and I have a class with him, so I get to see him often. I know that he will still be helping us. I am really sad that he is retiring because he was the one who recruited me and is a big part of my life. I understand that when it is time, it's time. On the flipside, I am really excited for Dave. I have talked to him and I am excited for the season. He is so good at what he does and he puts a lot of work into everything he does, and he has helped my game so much since I have been here.

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

A: My personal goal is to keep continuing to get better and improve my game. Another goal would be to continue playing with the national team and train with them and hopefully one day make it on an Olympic team. I think the goal for me is to continue to improve and think about how I can make our team better by enhancing my skills to help us win. The team goal is the NCAA championship. We have a new coach, which is awesome. He is going to do great and he already is doing great. Everyone's goal is to keep getting better over these next couple of months and be the team we want to be in May when the National Championships come around.

Meagan Harbison, a fifth-year senior on the Pepperdine women's soccer team, looks back on her time on the team and also shares her goals for this season:

Meagan  Harbison

Q: Tell me a little about winning the WCC title this past season.

A: That was really big for us. I think coming off a year before that was not that great, we came out strong, mainly defensively. We have a strong back line, but also as a unit we were strong too. It was not necessarily the way we wanted to win it because we had a chance to win it at home, but ultimately the game that we played to win it was all about heart. That moment after we scored, we knew we had won and everyone stormed the field. It was a really cool experience.

Q: How has that affected the team coming into this season? What is the team doing to retain the title this season?

A: I think coming off a good season last year and having a lot of returners from that group coming back has set a good foundation. I think we will just continue to build off of that. We know that we can achieve it, and now we just have to stick with it and keep on improving each day.

Q: You and your sister, Hailey, are playing together for the first time since 2014. Are you both excited to be playing together again?

A: It's crazy. I got injured and then a year later, Hailey got injured. It is cool to be back together. She is such a good player and we can read off each other. We have a good partnership.

Q: What is it like having your sister on the team?

A: I think it is really cool. Obviously I am older, so I got to do my own thing my first year. It is fun having a sister around because you are with them growing up and it is great to have that support system and someone to hang out with. I can depend on her no matter what.

Q: As a team captain, what's your role on the team?

A: I am the oldest one on the team and I have a lot of experience, so I just have to use that to help my teammates. I am more of a lead-by-example type of player, so hopefully going forward I can lead in other ways too.

Q: What are you looking to get out of this season?

A: I want to win it all. I want to win the WCC title again and go farther in the tournament, but ultimately, I want the championship. I think we can do that this year because we have the team for it. As long as we keep our minds set and focused, we can achieve it. As long as we believe it, I think we can do it.

Q: Looking back on your time at Pepperdine, what has stood out the most or had the most impact on you?

A: The people here, especially my teammates. My class has graduated now, but they were a big reason why I stayed here. The culture of the team is great. No matter what you are going to work hard because you have to have your teammates' backs and they have your back. Regardless of that bad day you are going through, you know you can depend on them. You know that there is someone for you and everyone is rooting for you.

Q: If you could go back to when you first started at Pepperdine, what advice would you give yourself?

A: For soccer I would say to try and find more time to practice little things. I know it's hard because the schedule is crazy, but I would tell myself to get up a little earlier and find some time to practice more on my own.

Q: What is your favorite memory with the team?

A: There are so many. The WCC win was for sure a favorite. My sophomore year we beat USC twice, once at their home field and once here. It was really cool to beat them back to back. There were just so many big wins, it is crazy. Nothing is better than winning away.

Q: Since this will be your last year here at Pepperdine, what are you plans after you graduate?

A: I definitely want to play soccer whenever I can at this point. I am hoping that I can do that. If not, I still want to stay in the sports industry because that (sport administration) is my major.

Women's Volleyball Update: Hannah Frohling

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Sophomore outside hitter Hannah Frohling writes in with this update after the team's first couple of home matches, and ahead of this weekend's Asics Classic where the Waves will play three home matches on Friday and Saturday:

Hannah  Frohling

This past weekend, we finally got to compete in our home gym in front of our fans and it was so incredible.  We have been training hard in Firestone Fieldhouse since January in preparation for this season, but it always feels so good when we get to put the jerseys on and play for our school.

At the end of last season, we knew we had a special group going into the off season and the addition of our freshmen and a transfer, who have flawlessly integrated into Pepperdine volleyball, has really accelerated our growth. We've been here at Pepperdine training since July, putting in work in the weight room, getting touches on the ball in the gym and spending time together as a team and growing closer to one another. I can't say enough how special this group of 16 is and how much fun it is to come to practice every day and battle it out. With all that being said, we were so ready to compete at our first home game.

Our first home match was against Northeastern and with the fans behind us, we pulled out a 3-1 win. The whole team was on the same page and the game felt smooth, just like we've been practicing. It's awesome to play with people who you've been training so hard with and get the results that you've been working towards. We had a quick turnaround and played CSUN the next day at their gym. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get the win there, but the next day we were able to redeem ourselves against Weber State with a 3-0 win. 

Being a sophomore, I knew what to expect a game day to feel like, but there was something so unique about getting to step back on the court after so many months without a match. We were all able to walk in with such confidence that the work we had been putting in would show in how we played, and it did. The chemistry of our team now is so amazing.  Each girl is contributing to our team on and off the court and pushing everyone else to be better volleyball players, and better people. I am so stoked on this group and truly believe that we are going to do great things.

Another thing that is so neat on our team is that we call ourselves a family.  We are the Pepperdine volleyball family, which means we are always there for each other to build one another up, and also that we can be accountable for others and make sure each person is fulfilling their potential.  We don't back down from fighting for our family, and we are sure to encourage, listen and support each other when it is needed.

Overall, we have had such an awesome first weekend at home that was filled with some gnarly plays, lots of learning moments, going beyond limits and growth together. I am so ready to keep fighting with my team this week, and all the coming weeks. We are mighty, and we are Pepperdine volleyball.

Women's Basketball Q&A: Keyari Sleezer

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Junior guard Keyari Sleezer of the Pepperdine women's basketball team studied abroad in Spain this summer. She tells us about her experience studying abroad while maintaining her readiness for the upcoming season:

Keyari  Sleezer

Q: You went to study abroad in Spain. Can you tell me about your experience?

A: It was amazing! I really loved getting to travel and meet so many more people outside of athletics. It was a great time to get to really learn about navigating the city in Spanish and on my own. Since I am already an independent person, I chose to room alone with my family and I took the metro everywhere. I really loved being right in the city and getting to explore a little bit of everything in the parks, cafes, and museums.

Q: Who or what influenced you to go abroad?

A: The opportunity to study Spanish and finish out my Hispanic Studies minor, while getting to fulfill my passion for traveling, were huge motivating factors for my decision. I also want to be bilingual for my future career in the medical field and to better communicate with my family in Costa Rica.

Q: What was your most memorable experience?

A: The side trips were where I made some of the best memories! My favorite weekend was a last-minute trip to Morocco for the last weekend that we were there. We got to explore on a camel ride, horse carriage, walking and a tour up to a waterfall in the mountains. Plus, everything was just very cultural and distinct and we had a really unique experience getting to be there during Ramadan.

Q: What was something you learned about the culture difference?

A: The two main things were the schedule and the aging. They eat a big, late lunch, so that meant that we didn't have dinner until around 10 o'clock at night! It was hard on my sleep schedule, but it also gave me more time to be out and take advantage of the daylight, because it didn't get dark until around 10. The other thing that was very different was that people marry a lot later, so this meant that I had older host brothers who still lived at home, which was normal to them and I saw a lot of old mothers around the city.

Q: What do you miss the most from Spain?

A: I miss getting to live with a family. Going from dorms to a full family was so much fun! I had host brothers that I could hang out with, I had my own room, we had family dinners, and they didn't speak English, so I got to practice my Spanish and feel comfortable doing it.

Q: Would you recommend other student-athletes to go abroad if their schedule permits?

A: Yes! If you are motivated and able to manage your priorities, then this is the best possible time and opportunity to take advantage of. Getting to get credit, meet peers, travel, and just experience a different culture is invaluable.

Q: Were you able to play any basketball there?

A: Yes. I wanted to make sure that I came back ready to contribute and be completely involved in the workouts, so I was a member of a gym and even found a group through an app called "meetup" where I could play pickup games with some Americans in the area. I couldn't find an indoor court, but I carried my ball and pump around all the time, so that I could explore the city and find outdoor courts or just play at the one right next to my house.

Q: How are you prepping for this upcoming season?

A: I have been preparing for this season by working on my dribbling and maintaining my shot. The easiest thing to do, anywhere, is to just go for a run, so I pride myself in the endurance that I have built up.

Q: What are you most looking forward to for your junior year?

A: For junior year I am looking forward to seeing what comes of all the changes we have made. I truly think there are many positive things to come in the way we have fostered our love for the game, our team practices and our winning culture. I can't wait to see where that takes us!

Women's Basketball Q&A: Paige Fecske

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Paige Fecske, a rising junior on the women's basketball team, won a gold medal with the United States at the 2017 Maccabiah Games in Israel. She talks to us about her experience and emotions at the Maccabiah Games as well as her plans for what's left of the summer:

Paige  Fecske

Q: You recently won a gold medal with the U.S. at the 2017 Maccabiah Games. Can you tell us about your experience?

A: Well, it was my first time leaving the country all by myself, so it was quite nerve-wracking in the beginning. But it was amazing getting to explore Israel with people who I hadn't really met before, while having the opportunity to play basketball. It was awesome getting to play with someone who we played against last season, Drew Edelman from UCSB. She is a stud post player.

Q: Was it your first time playing in the Maccabiah Games?

A: This was the first time I had heard about the Maccabiah Games, so yes!

Q: Since it was your first time going to Israel, what was that like for you personally and what did it mean to your family for you to travel and play there?

A: It was an adventure for sure and going by myself gave me a chance to grow as an individual. I was the only one who went without any family so I was able to give myself fully to basketball and to meeting new people. My grandmother was very excited for me to go because she had never been to Israel before. Overall, it was very special for me to go to Israel and I am so glad I went, even though I was very nervous going alone.

Q: What were some of your emotions while you were playing and after you won gold medal?

A: During the game my emotions were pretty relaxed until the end when we started to gain a lead against Israel. I was crazy stoked! The best part of the game was going up for a chest bump with my teammate Emily. I basically got body slammed down to the ground but everyone got a good laugh during the game, which lightened the mood!

Q: What was the most memorable part of your trip?

A: The most memorable part of my trip was honestly just any time I got to spend with my new lifelong friends who I am lucky to now have! But if I had to pick one thing it would be the day we went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Israel, and I read off the name of a Hungarian boxer who was killed, in honor of my grandmother who is still alive and a survivor of the Holocaust from Hungary. Also, I blogged every single day while I was there and it was awesome to get people's feedback throughout my journey. My friend Lauren Rothfeld and I would have journal time every day.

Q: What was the most important thing you learned that you can use to help you in your future basketball endeavors?

A: I learned the importance of knowing each person on your team individually. Everyone is different and needs something that another person may not need from their point guard.

Q: Is playing internationally different than playing in the U.S.?

A: Yes very different. They don't call fouls. And the key is much wider in Israel than in the U.S. But besides that, basketball is basketball.

Q: What are your plans for the rest of the summer?

A: For the rest of the summer I am going to continue to work on my game while spending time with my family in New York for a few weeks.

Q: What are you working to improve on for this upcoming season?

A: I am working on my dribbling, shooting, passing and communication skills.

Q: What are you most excited about for your junior year?

A: I am most excited for our new coach, DeLisha Milton-Jones. She has so much experience and wisdom to share with us and I cannot wait to get back to work with everyone in the fall.

Q: What should fans expect for this upcoming season?

A: The fans will get to see how the program has grown and players have developed together as a team and individually. It will be a great season.

Women's Volleyball Q&A: Heidi Dyer

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Indoor and beach volleyball student-athlete Heidi Dyer has had a busy summer with not only volleyball training but also recently going on a mission trip to Tanzania. She shares with us her goals for the upcoming season and her experience on her mission trip:

Heidi  Dyer

Q: Besides keeping busy with volleyball, I know you just got back from a mission trip to Tanzania. Can you share with me what that was like?

A: Going to Tanzania was so incredible and eye-opening. I've been to Kenya before and I really wanted to go back to Africa this year. On New Year's Day I asked God to somehow send me to Africa this year, even though I only had a couple weeks throughout the entire year that I wasn't required to be at school playing volleyball. Sure enough, God provided me with a trip through my youth group, University Ministries at Malibu Presbyterian, at the exact perfect time. The second the trip was proposed I knew I was supposed to go on it. I didn't have enough money or enough time to really prepare for the trip, but I trusted that God would provide and He did. We went to an orphanage called Light in Africa, which is run by Mama Lynn. Meeting her felt like how I would imagine meeting Mother Teresa would feel like. She's amazing. Read her book, it's called Light in Africa!

Q: What kind of things did you do there?

A: When I was there, I mostly got to just love on little kids. At first, I didn't realize how incredibly impactful and important that would be, but I was blown away by how content they were just to hold your hand. They are so love deprived that it breaks my heart. They don't have parents taking care of them, let alone loving them and giving them the special attention they deserve. They are well taken care of and it's in a loving way, but they hardly ever get special attention. My heart was SO full just being able to give them that love. I never had a time without a child in my arms or five kids holding on to separate fingers. My team also went to a Masai village and it opened my eyes to one of the most poverty-stricken people groups. I washed parasites out of kids' hair for an entire day and didn't even get through half of the kids that needed it. The problems in that community are endless. 

Q: What did you learn from this opportunity?

A: I learned so much on this trip and my eyes were opened so wide to the insane needs of these people. The biggest thing I got out of it was a bigger spiritual heart to love God's people. I loved so much it hurt sometimes, but I figure that's the best way to love. That was the most rewarding part. 

Q: Would you encourage other students to go on a similar mission trip, and why?

A: I would 110% encourage anyone who has an opportunity to go serve in a third world country to do it! These kinds of trips are something that teach you more about yourself than you could ever learn at home. It opens your eyes and it changes you and challenges you in incredible ways. 

Q: Who or what inspires you to go on mission trips?

A: Going on mission trips is something that God calls you to do. He'll either put the desire in your heart to find a way to go, or He'll tell you to go and then present you with an opportunity. So God is definitely the one who inspires me to go on missions trips. But I'm telling you, once you do, you won't want to stop. It's an amazing feeling to be living for something other than yourself. 

Q: With one more month of summer, can you tell us what you have been doing on the court during this off season?

A: This summer our team went to Europe, which was the coolest trip ever! But along with that, we played six matches against some good competition and that really helped us bond as a team. I also beat up on my 14-year-old brother's indoor team in June because their coach needed more players. I'm kidding, they totally hit the ball as hard as college girls ... it's scary. This July our team has reconvened on campus and has been getting lots of reps in during the open gyms, which has been a lot of fun. 

Q: How is the training in the summer different than in season?

A: Summer training is different because there isn't the pressure of having to compete as flawlessly as possible. It's all about the imperfections and striving to perfect them. Although, of course we know perfection isn't impossible but it's definitely a good goal to shoot for. 

Q: What are you most excited about for your junior year?

A: I am most excited to compete for a WCC championship title. Our team is sold out for achieving it. It feels different this year. A very good different. 

Q: Do you have personal goals that you hope to achieve for this upcoming season?

A: My personal goal is just to help the team in any way possible. I might be playing a couple different positions so my goal is to just be ready for whatever the team needs. Obviously I would like to beat my personal stats from previous years but my biggest goal is the team's end result.

Men's Basketball Q&A: Nolan Taylor

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Rising sophomore Nolan Taylor of men's basketball recently took part in the WCC Leadership Summit recently hosted by Pepperdine. After the strong presentations, healthy discussion and debate, he shares with us his experience at the conference and reflects on his freshman year results that will help him for this upcoming season:

Nolan  Taylor

Q: Besides keeping busy with basketball, you recently took part in the WCC Leadership Summit at Pepperdine. What was that like?

A: The leadership summit was a great experience. As a conference we got to come together and create a family atmosphere. It was unique because I was building special bonds and relationships with people that I will be competing against. This summit was important because life is much bigger than bouncing a ball or competing in your respective sport. Life is about changing the world we live in for the betterment of those around us and creating lifelong healthy relationships.

Q: What kind of things did you do at the summit?

A: During the summit we had sessions where we would have JT Thoms from Growing Leaders and Timothy Alexander from UAB, teach us leadership techniques and different ways that we can not only make our team and program better, but mainly how we can impact the lives of many people by being what you want to see and stepping out of our comfort zones. This means making our teammates' problems and universities' problems, our personal problems. Why not conquer and find solutions together? We also did a community service activity where we picked up trash at the beach. In addition, we got the opportunity to personally ask questions to the commissioner of the WCC, which was an eye-opening experience.

Q: What was the most important thing you learned from the summit?

A: There were so many things that I learned, so I cannot pick a favorite. However, there was a question that made me do a lot of self-reflection. The question was, "What are you doing with your influence?" As athletes we are blessed with God-given talents and we are given an elevated platform. It is essential for us to realize that this platform is not about our title, it is about our influence and what we do to add value to the places life takes us. I learned that although basketball has developed me into the man I am today, I want my impact to outline my life, so that I am known for more than solely basketball.

Q: What was the most memorable part of the summit?

A: The most memorable part was listening to Timothy Alexander talk about his life that was full of adversity. From a wheelchair, he gathered a group to fight and bring back the UAB football team, rowing team and rifling team. He was just a complete inspiration to listen to and it was unbelievably astonishing to see what he made out of the many difficult circumstances life threw at him. 

Q: Now back to basketball, you had quite an impressive freshman year. Can you tell us what it was like playing in 24 of 31 games and starting 20 games your freshman year? Did you expect to play and start in that many games?

A: The season was full of struggles. As a team we were in a constant battle with injuries, which made it very difficult to stay positive at times. Personally, I did not know what to expect when I came back after missing a few games, but Coach Wilson trusted in my process of recovering and getting into game shape. However, my main goal was to help the team in any way that I could. Some games it was rebounding, sometimes it was guarding a dominant big in our league and other games I needed to score. It was a blessing to get that experience leading into this upcoming year.

Q: What was the most important thing you learned from your freshman year that you will use for next season?

A: The most important thing I learned this season was to find the good in every situation and season of life both on and off the court. I am honestly thankful for last season because it helped me continue to positively build my character and also forced me to battle through adversity. I truly realized the importance of having a mindset of perseverance and gratefulness. 

Q: Do you have personal goals that you hope to achieve for this upcoming season?

A: My primary goal is to be able to be a more versatile defender. I want to be able to guard all positions. I also want to be a more dominant scorer while shooting a higher percentage from the rest of the field than last year.

Q: What can fans expect this season?

A: Fans can expect the most athletic Pepperdine team in a long time. We will be a very high-energy team that is hungry and ready to win the conference championship.

Q: What are you working on this summer to prepare for this upcoming season?

A: This summer I have been working on having quicker feet, getting faster and more athletic. I have also been working on my shot and ball-handling every day.


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