Conversation: Bethany Howden
Senior middle blocker Bethany Howden is the unquestioned leader of this year's undefeated, 15-0 Texas volleyball squad and, as she plays her way toward back-to-back All-America honors, she is also leading the team towards a Big 12 title run. The 6'2" Howden has been an impact player in her three previous seasons at Texas, but her influence on the young Longhorn team this year might be her most impressive feat. Recently, TexasSports.com sat down with the senior to discuss her UT career, her role as a leader, her mix CD's and her culinary skills.
The team is off to an outstanding start this season. What has been the biggest difference for the Horns this year in comparison to years past?
BH: I think it all goes back to practice. We have been having great practices this year and all through the preseason we worked really hard on both offense and defense. We have had some rough practices, but for the most part when we come into the gym we show up ready to work hard. We have gotten a lot of new people who have helped pick up the intensity and who have made an immediate impact. That momentum in practice and the hard work carries over well into games.
As a senior, how exciting is it to be the leader of such a successful team during your fourth and final season on the Forty Acres? Talk a little about what you personally have been through and how those experiences have been beneficial so far this season.
BH: It is very exciting to see everything that (Head Coach) Jerritt (Elliott) has been talking about finally come together this year. He has slowly been rebuilding since I have been here, and I have seen what he is trying to do and how he has been trying to be active in the team. His long-term plan is finally coming together and I am excited for this year, the rest of the year and for the future of the team after I leave. The things that the future teams will do with Jerritt will be exciting because he is a terrific coach and I feel like he is going to take this program to great places.
Talk a little about what it has meant to you to be able to stay home in Austin to play college volleyball in your hometown. What has been the best part about being at home?
BH: I'm pretty tight with my family and that was probably the main factor of why I wanted to stay in Austin. I grew up a Longhorn, and I figured that if I loved the place that I live in and I loved the school that is here, then there was no reason to go anywhere else. I have been able to see my little sister grow up and I get to go to her games. I also get to go see my older sister, and having my family here to support me has been amazing. Being comfortable in the place that I am in is great. Some people like to go far away for school, but staying close (to home) has really worked out for me.
During your time at Texas you have had a wild ride, constantly changing between the outside hitter and middle blocker positions. How difficult has it been to make those moves, and what benefits have there been from being able to play two positions?
BH: My sophomore year when I switched from the middle (blocker) to outside (hitter) was definitely tough for me, and that was probably my rockiest year on the court. The experience of playing both positions has really helped me to understand different facets of the game, and understand how it works from different positions. I am now comfortable with playing different positions on the court and I feel like that has helped my game – and the team's play - tremendously.
What all have you been able to pass down to the younger players on the team to help them adjust to college life, and aid in their progress on the court?
BH: I hope that I give them some insight into college life through just little everyday things. They are all great girls and there has not been anything major that I have had to do to help the younger players. On the court they bring so much, and it has been exciting to play with them and to get to share the court with them. I just really hope that I have helped them out in some way.
Although, the season is still young there have been plenty of memorable moments. What is your fondest memory so far this season on the court?
BH: The way the team played so well together when we played at Florida. The team playing so well together has been very exciting for me. Up until that point we knew that we could be good, and we knew what we were capable of, but it hadn't completely come together. Not only playing so well together, but being recognized on national T.V. and showing people what we are all about was very important. That match helped us grow as a team and helped us understand what we need to do and what we can do.
And off the court?
BH: Off the court, we all get along really well and that has made this year very exciting for me. This team meshes really well and when we go to dinner or we are on bus trips we talk and reminisce about things in the past, our Europe trip and all the fun things that we have experienced. Honestly, I think that getting to be together with the team and laugh about silly things we have done has been the most fun part of this season.
... is there more unity with this years team?
BH: I would definitely say so. We all get along so well and at the same time we hold each other accountable for things on and off the court. It has been a great joy to be a part of a team like that.
You are the leader of team stretching everyday at practice and on game days. If you had to put together a mix tape of songs for stretching, what would you include? Why?
BH: I would personally turn that question over to Brandy Magee because if I picked all the songs I think my team would kill me. I don't think that they would go for my music because I am a country girl. Brandy can pick my mix.
… What country music would you put on the mix?
BH: I am a Texas country girl and I like all of the Texas artists. (Cory Morrow, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Roger Creager, Pat Green) I also like Tim McGraw and George Strait.
… Have you seen Tim McGraw in Friday Night Lights yet?
BH: I saw it and he was really good. Then I saw his new video this week on Monday Night Football. I forgot what the name of it is, but seeing it on Monday Night Football was really fun.
Fact Attack: Bethany Howden
Favorite Place in Austin? My parents house (I'm such a dork)
... Favorite place to go in Austin? Starbucks
… You are from Austin you have to have a better place than that. Sno Beach sno cone stand on Lamar near Barton Springs is my all-time favorite. Don who owns it is a friend.
Volleyball: In the sand/On the court: I'm better on the court, but the sand is a lot of fun.
If you're not on the court you're … Trying to study, but I am a procrastinator, so I am probably hanging out with friends.
Which reality show would you be on? I think it would be so fun to be on The Amazing Race
You would rather be … asleep in my bed
Dinner for four. Who is there, dead or alive? (Adamantly) Harry Potter, George Strait, and George W. (Bush)
What did you eat for dinner last night? Oh, it was so bad. Me and my roommate Whitney (Garvens) who used to play (volleyball at Texas), made a Skillet Sensation and it was terrible. So I ended up eating ice cream instead.
What is in your CD player right now? Matt White. He is a singer who my roommate Jody Bell (a forward on the UT women's basketball team) introduced me to. She got Jamie Carey (a guard on the UT women's basketball team) listening to him and now I am. The new 50 Number One's by George Strait is the other CD that is in my rotation and it is outstanding.
Neat / Messy: Messy. (laughing) I am so, so messy.
When you think of the University of Texas, you think? How proud that I am to be here and how much I want to light the tower with a number one.