Nov. 10, 2011
Every Thursday, UCLABruins.com will sit down with a member of the women's volleyball team. This week, we talk with sophomore Meg Norton, who discusses the benefits of being so close to home, her family's athletic history and pre-game superstitions.
UCLABruins.com: What was it like being the only girl in a three-sibling household?
Meg Norton: They usually went off by themselves, but I decided to follow. We are all really close in age, so it was helpful from the sports perspective. I played on all boys' teams until I was probably in the sixth grade. I played basketball, baseball and volleyball with the boys, and I think that my brothers taught me that being weak wasn't an option. My brothers both played volleyball and basketball when they were younger. My oldest brother Michael played basketball at SMU. My parents are also both athletes. They both run every single day. So it came naturally that I took to sports.
.com: When and why did you decide to attend UCLA?
MN: I decided in the beginning of my junior year. I wanted to come here because of the athletics and the academics. I only visited a few schools, and I actually thought I wasn't going to like being close to home, but that actually became the one thing that I wanted.
.com: How great is it to be attending college so close to home?
MN: I love it. It's really nice when you want to go home and get a break from everything here, sports and academics. You can go home and study, get a home-cooked meal and get your laundry done.
.com: When and why did you start playing volleyball?
MN: I started playing club volleyball in the third grade. My dad got me interested in playing. We are a huge beach family, so we'd play on the beach. My dad transferred to UCLA to play volleyball here, but he got hurt. He just taught me how to play on the beach for fun and I just kept with it.
.com: Nearly two years into your collegiate career, what is the biggest difference between high school volleyball and the college game?
MN: The speed of the game is the biggest difference. Everyone that's here has been the star of their high school or club team, but here it's a constant competition and you have to really fight for your spot. I think I became fully adjusted to the college game at the beginning of this year. It's hard to be fully adjusted as a freshman and really come in to your own.
.com: What do you enjoy playing more, outside hitter or defensive specialist?
MN: It depends on the day. I really like playing outside because I'm sort of like the underdog because I'm so small, and when you get the kill it's the best feeling. But I also really like playing defensive specialist. I've always liked playing back row and I get relieved when I get to go to the back row when I play outside. So I like both of them.
.com: What part of your game do you feel you need to work the most on?
MN: Serve/receive. I need to work on staying low and keeping my technique consistent.
.com: What do you enjoy the most about playing volleyball?
MN: I enjoy the constant competition that we have, whether it's in the games or at practice. It's obviously always competitive in the games, but even in the practice gym it's competitive between everyone is fighting for their positions.
.com: What has been your most exciting moment on the volleyball court?
MN: When we played at Cal last year. It was kind of like my moment of breaking free of not being a freshman anymore and having the opportunity to show what I can do.
.com: If you didn't play volleyball, what sport would you play?
MN: I would definitely play soccer. I actually stopped playing soccer because of medical reasons and that's why I picked volleyball over soccer. I loved the running around and the physical aspect of it.
.com: Go through your pre-game routine.
MN: After serve and pass, I go up to my room and I have to shower no matter what. I will not go to the game without showering. I also have two lucky sports bras, one for the first game of the weekend and one for the second game. I also have lucky pre-wrap now. Ever since we've been No. 1, I have the same color pre-wrap and it's worked so far.
.com: What other UCLA athletic events do you like to attend?
MN: Men's volleyball obviously, but I also really like soccer. They are really exciting to watch.
.com: What would you rather play on? Sport Court or hardwood?
MN: Before I came here I hated Sport Court just from playing in club tournaments, but now that we practice on Sport Court it's my favorite by a long shot. I love how you can slide on the Sport Court and usually I don't get floor burns.
.com: Is there a difference in the type of floor whether you are playing outside or DS?
MN: As an outside hitter, I'd rather play on wood just from the jumping perspective of it. But as a defensive specialist, definitely Sport Court.
.com: If you could travel anywhere around the world, where would it be?
MN: I'd want to go to Africa. I've always been really interested to be on a safari. Before last year, I would have said Australia, but I got the chance to go there last year. My goal is to go to all seven continents before I die and I've been to North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
.com: If you could have one super power, what would it be?
MN: I would choose super speed. It's kind of like a combination of flying and being invisible. You can get anywhere you want to really fast and no one can see you if you are going really fast.
.com: Who is your favorite professional athlete?
MN: Kobe Bryant, because he exudes confidence and even though people think he's cocky, he does some of the most amazing things that I've ever watched. Sometimes Megan (Moenoa), Priscilla (Duke-Ezeji) and I in practice when we are shagging will all say `Kobe' and try to shoot it in the bucket at the same time because he's each of our favorite athletes.
.com: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
MN: When we don't have practice, I love going to the beach. I go home a lot when we have days off. I have two dogs, Kobe (border collie/poodle/lab mix) and Luke (lab, named after Laker Luke Walton) and I love them both. I also love to run.
.com: What is your favorite part about Thanksgiving?
MN: Besides the food, I would say getting together with all of my family and friends. I have a lot of young cousins, so it's always fun when I get to see them. We usually have practice Thursday morning and I get the chance to go home. My family all lives fairly close, so we get to have Thanksgiving dinner and then I'll come back here the same night and sleep here.
.com: What are the best and worst things about traveling with the team?
MN: The best thing is getting to bond with the team and getting to know them outside of the court. The worst thing is missing tests and class, and feeling like you've missed out on the weekend.
.com: What is your biggest fear?
MN: Not meeting my expectations and not being able to achieve what I had thought I could have done.
.com: What is your favorite website?
MN: My favorite website recently has become StumpleUpon, because when you go on the website you never know what you are going to come across. It really is a time killer in class when you are bored.
.com: Who has been the most influential person/people in your life?
MN: My family in general has been the most influential, every person for a different reason. My parents definitely for supporting me and for always having my back. They've never doubted any of my decisions. My brothers also for pushing me and not letting me settle for anything less than what I can do.
Previous Thursdays With ...
Lauren Van Orden