Freshman opposite hitter Lauren Paolini, a native of Ann Arbor, Mich., had some adjusting to do to her new Texas home, but it hasn't seemed to matter to her with her play on the court.
This 2005 Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 recruit has handled the big adjustment to the weather, the time management issues and, of course, playing volleyball at the collegiate level. Paolini is proving to be yet another strong performer on this season's 11th-ranked Texas Volleyball squad, ready for anything that comes her way.
Paolini recently took a break before practice to sit down and talk about living in Texas, her brother's advice, her other sport of interest and the one thing she can't seem to live without.
Q: What do you think of the change from Michigan to Texas?
LP: "The weather is definitely different. It is still so hot here and I know that it is colder (in Ann Arbor). My mom keeps calling me and letting me know how cold it is getting and when they came to visit me they thought it was so nice here and they didn't want to go back to where it snows."
Q: So you don't miss the snow?
LP: "Not really. It's so nice here all the time. I just love it."
Q: What about the people in Texas, are they different?
LP: "The boys here are such gentlemen. They will hold the door open for you and let you out of the elevator first. People in Michigan did not do things like that. Overall, the people here are really welcoming."
Q: How have you been doing adjusting to the college life?
LP: "Umm...I think I have adjusted well. At first I had a lot of trouble with figuring out my priorities, managing my whole schedule and making sure I had enough time for everything. But now I think I have a better handle of things now."
Q: Can you say you finally feel at home?
LP: "Definitely. I have met so many great people since I arrived here and I am having a lot of fun."
Q: Your brother Andrew plays a little collegiate basketball...
LP: "Yeah, back home in Michigan (on the Western Michigan men's basketball team)."
Q: ...so has he helped you with the adjusting?
LP: "He has helped me a lot. I went to him and asked him a lot of questions, like how he dealt with a whole new team, school and the whole thing. Just knowing he could do it created a solid base for me to believe I could."
Q: Did you ever consider playing basketball?
LP: "Yeah, I thought about playing basketball in college up until I was a sophomore in high school. I loved basketball and had played since the fourth grade so it used to be my goal. When I was younger, we lived close to (the University of Michigan) campus and I used to shoot around outside and hope the college coach would drive by and want to recruit me."
Q: I am assuming he didn't.
LP: "I had a few offers towards the end of high school, but by then I had decided to stick with volleyball."
Q: Are you glad you decided to give up childhood wishes of playing basketball?
LP: "Yeah. I still play for fun, but with my build I don't think I would have survived such a rough sport and I would not be where I am today if I would not have stuck with volleyball."
Q: You were selected to train with USA Volleyball's 2005 A2 Junior National team. How was that?
LP: "It was cool and a lot of fun. Michelle (Moriarty) was there, too, and we got to hang out a lot. I met a lot of cool girls there and everyone was really good and really nice. It was really fast-paced and play was at a higher level."
Q: Do you think that helped you prepare for coming here?
LP: "I helped me out a lot with the transition from high school to college. It was a step for me that made me adjust a lot better."
Q: Anytime anyone sees you, you're walking around with your earpiece in, jamming out to your iPod. What have you got on there?
LP: "I have the largest variety of music on there, it is so funny. I have anything from country to rap and rock-and-roll to punk and just about everything in between."
Q: Do you listen to it on a pretty constant basis?
LP: "Oh yeah, all the time. I listen to my iPod before I go to bed every night and when I am fixing my hair in the morning, when I walk to class..."
Q: Okay, when are you not listening to it?
LP: "Ummm... pretty much all the time except for class, practice and matches. What can I say? Music just makes me really happy and the iPod is the best thing that has ever been invented as far as I am concerned."