Q&A with Destinee Hooker
Freshman outside hitter Destinee Hooker has provided an undeniable spark to the 2006 Texas Volleyball team. The 2006 NCAA outdoor high jump champion is a fierce competitor and the physicality that she brings to the floor has played a large role in the Horns' success this season. Hooker recently took some time out of her schedule to sit down with TexasSports.com to discuss being a two-sport star, the NCAA Tournament and her athletic family.
Heading into the postseason after a stellar regular season, what do you personally want to achieve in the postseason and where do you see the team going? I want to take the loss to Nebraska and make it into something positive. We obviously want to come out and perform well in the first round this weekend. We are coming into the postseason with higher emotional standards and we want to play well as a team. We need to practice harder in practice, and make sure our practice shows on the court.
What is the most important thing for this team to do in the postseason? Win, win, and win.
Coach Elliott talks a lot about consistency...what do you, as an individual, need to do to be more consistent? I need to keep the ball in play. Every time I hit a ball, I need to make sure that it is kept in play, regardless of whether it is a hard hit or not. It is also very important that I work on my timing on blocks so that I can provide more defensive help in the front row.
Compare playing volleyball to high jumping...Volleyball and high jumping are completely different. High jumping is individual while volleyball is more team related. In volleyball, whatever you do affects the whole team and not just yourself.
Do the skills from high jump transfer over to volleyball? You would think they are similar, but it is a whole lot different on the court. Instead of me running and taking off, I have to time my takeoff with the course of the ball in volleyball--I need to be patient with the set, and know when the set is coming. In high jump, you just take off, regardless of speed, in order to get over the ball.
What is the feeling you have playing volleyball versus the feeling after a good jump? In volleyball you have more to depend on in terms of getting the end result. If you mess up in high jump, your whole mindset just goes down, but in volleyball, I have a team that is able to pump you up on the court. Both sports have their advantages; volleyball has a bigger advantage in the emotional setting, whereas high jump allows me to be in my own mindset and not have to worry about anything else except for myself.
What has been the most memorable moment for you this season? The first match we played against Nebraska was a tremendous game. Everyone played so well, and Heather [Kisner] even had a kill from the back row, which was pretty cool. Also, sweeping [then fourth-ranked] Santa Clara early in the season was exciting, because it told people early on in the season that we weren't playing around. From the start, we have proved to the critics that we are here, and here to stay.
Talk about getting to play at home for the first round, and possibly for the regional. It means a lot to be at Gregory, because it gives us an informal home court advantage. Having the fans in the stands will help us a lot because we know that they are cheering for us. Here, we have energy from the team, the fans and the coaching staff.
Talk about the athleticism that runs in your family. My dad is a basketball star, my mom is a basketball and track star, my sister Marshevet is a sprint-a-holic, and then you have me, a jumper. I take the basketball skills I learned and apply them to all the other sports I do, whether it is sprinting or jumping. I think the athleticism definitely came from my parents, because without my mom I don't think my sister would have been as fast since my dad isn't really a sprinter, and without my dad I don't think I would have the height or jumping ability.