Brittany Howard, a graduate transfer student, is a
standout in her first season for the Pepperdine women's beach volleyball team.
She shares with us what her journey was like coming from Stanford to Pepperdine
and her experience here so far:
Q: You were an indoor player at Stanford prior to coming to Pepperdine and played on Stanford's beach squad as well. What is the biggest difference you've noticed in adjusting to the beach?
A: I think the biggest difference is the ball control that is necessary. In beach, you have to touch the ball at least one or two times every play, so your skill set is much less specific compared to indoor. The transition for me has been easier because I was a six rotation outside, so I had to pass and hit a lot in that role. The biggest skill I have had to work on is my setting and placement for Corinne, my partner.
Q: Why did you choose Pepperdine for graduate school?
A: I wanted to come to Pepperdine because I have always wanted to live in Southern California. For me, when I had the opportunity to play for Nina and Marcio, I didn't think there could be a better fit or a better group of girls I could play with. I thought that it just made sense that I would come here and play.
Q: What is the team chemistry at Pepperdine like?
A: The team chemistry is so awesome. The girls were extremely welcoming to me and the other new players. Everyone gets along so well and we are a really awesome team of 19 girls. I love them all. We work hard together every day, we push each other and we are all very competitive, but we all really love each other and support each other.
Q: What are the biggest differences between Palo Alto and Malibu?
A: The most obvious difference is that Malibu is right on the water. In general, Palo Alto has more places to go eat and other things around. Whereas in Malibu, you have a few places you go and eat. Palo Alto is also very tech oriented and you always had people walking around the university in suits, which is very different than Malibu. However, I love them both equally, and have really enjoyed being in both places.
Q: Tell me about your connections with your coaches here.
A: I adore Nina, Marcio and Gustavo. When I was first deciding where I would play beach volleyball, I sent out a few emails and heard back quickly from Nina. I talked with Nina on the phone and pretty much committed. I fell in love with her and thought she was really honest and funny. Nina has just been great. She is just like our mother. She loves us so much, but she really does push us and want the best for us. Marcio has been awesome. He is one the best coaches, if not the best coach, in the world. Having such a great coach has helped all of us as we are developing. He is really funny as well. He is very intense, and I definitely learn a lot from him each day. Gustavo is just incredible. He matches Nina and Marcio's intensity. The three of them work together so well and they make a really fun environment for us to practice in every day.
Q: Is there something or someone that inspires you to compete?
A: My mom and I played volleyball together ever since I was really little. It started with us playing with a balloon in my house. She played in college and went to the Final Four three times. She played on the National Team and professionally, so she's always inspired me because she competed at the highest level there ever could have been. She is such a competitor and such a loving and kind person. Growing up, she has been extremely supportive and wants the best for me and is proud of me. I love competing and knowing that she is watching every game.
Q: How was your first competition as a Wave?
A: It was so incredible. I remember the morning of I had my alarm set for 7:00, and I woke up at 5:30 ready to go. I was completely ready by 6:15. If you know my roommate and I, we are not morning people, but we were both just so excited to compete. Going through the day I was extremely nervous because I realized that I had not competed in such a long time. We played against UCLA, who was ranked #3 at the time and we were ranked #4. It was the first time Corinne and I had played together. It was a really intense match against a really good UCLA team and we won in two. It was really exciting to get that done for our team. It was an incredible first match experience and it set the tone for how Corinne and I wanted to compete the rest of the year.
Q: You also cracked the #NCAATop10 video a few weeks ago at #7 with Corinne. How was it being seen on a national level and being the first beach team to get props on the inaugural top 10 list?
A: Oh wow! I didn't know that! I am so honored and humbled. That's really, really cool. I give a lot of that to Corinne. She is like my rock when we are out there. She is so confident and steady. There are balls that I cannot even imagine getting and she just gets them all the time. I think Corinne and I work really well together and work really hard. It is awesome that other people have noticed how well we work together.
Q: Who or what has impacted you the most here at Pepperdine?
A: My teammates. They have just been so awesome and so welcoming. I moved here and I didn't know a single person at Pepperdine. My roommate and I are both fifth years and we get along so great. The team was welcoming to us and everyone loves each other so much. I want the season to be longer because it feels like it is going by so quickly, but we are definitely going to make it count.