Oct. 13, 2011
Every Thursday, UCLABruins.com will sit down with a member of the women's volleyball team. This week, we talk with freshman Priscilla Duke-Ezeji, who discusses her young volleyball playing career, who she'd be for Halloween and being a member of "The Squad."
UCLABruins.com: How have your first few weeks of college classes gone?
Priscilla Duke-Ezeji: It was a little easier because I took summer school, so the transition was easier, but so far so good.
.com: When and why did you decide to attend UCLA?
PDE: I decided at the end of my junior year. UCLA has always had a top program and great academics, so if I graduate from here I could probably get a job anywhere. I wanted to stay in California, kind of close to home, but not too close.
.com: How has it been adjusting from high school volleyball to collegiate volleyball?
PDE: The high school I went to was really competitive, so our coach prepared us to play at the college level. The transition is easier than I expected, but at the same time it's still hard.
.com: How has it been adjusting from living at home to living away from home?
PDE: Living away from home is 10 times better than living at home, except you have to do your own laundry and you miss all the home-cooked meals. But it's fun to live on your own, even though it's more responsibility.
.com: You just recently started playing volleyball. Why did you decide to take it up?
PDE: I didn't really want to play at all my freshman year. I was going to do track and soccer. But to stay in shape for soccer, my mom wanted me to do a fall sport, but I really didn't want to do volleyball. She really forced me to do it. But I liked it and I just kept playing it and got better at it. I was really bad that first year, but sophomore year I was more competitive. It was also my first year of club. Then in my senior year I stopped with track to play only with my club team during the spring.
.com: What part of your game do you feel you need to work the most on?
PDE: Right now I would say consistency and performing in matches the way I do in practice. I usually get nervous during matches, so I need to be as aggressive during practice for matches when I get the opportunity to go in.
.com: What do you enjoy the most about playing volleyball?
PDE: I like the team aspect and the energy you get from playing the game. I love it when you get a great kill or block too.
.com: How did you become a member of "The Squad?"
PDE: It started at LMU. Me, Nikki (Casale), Megan (Moenoa) and Madie (Smith) were cheering everyone on and we started yelling `squad, squad' and we just made it official that we were going to be called `The Squad.' I don't even know how the dance came about. It's what it is. Squad. Squad power.
.com: What is your favorite part about being a member of "The Squad?"
PDE: We have each other's backs. We pump up the bench. And even though we don't get the chance to play that much, we are still cheering for our team and having a positive attitude.
.com: What made you decide to add your mother's maiden name to your last name?
PDE: I wanted to have both my mom's and dad's last names. I wanted to honor my mom.
.com: What has been your most exciting moment on the volleyball court?
PDE: Last year for club volleyball, winning the SoCal qualifier was really exciting. We were the underdog and nobody expected us to win. We were playing one team and someone behind us said we were going to lose, so it was fun to go out there and win it.
.com: What are the best and worst things about traveling with the team?
PDE: The best thing is that you get to go to different places and campuses and get out of the state. The worst is that I get really tired usually when I travel and I get sick.
.com: If you could trade places for a day with a celebrity, who would it be?
PDE: Beyonce. She is my idol. She is perfect and I want to be her one day. I just love her demeanor, her swag. She's humble. And she has a really good voice. I'd love to sing like her one day.
.com: If you could travel anywhere around the world, where would it be?
PDE: South America. My mom is from Guyana.
.com: If you could have one super power, what would it be?
PDE: Flying. It's just bomb getting to anywhere you want to. No traffic. No walking up the hills. No getting cramps in my calves. Just fly to class.
.com: You have been considered by a few on "Thursdays With ..." of being the team class clown. Where does your overflowing energy and ability to be outgoing come from?
PDE: I don't know. It's just me. I was the wild child. I got in trouble all the time. It's not really a good reputation. But it just comes out. I can't be normal. Dare to be different.
.com: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
PDE: I like to sing, dance, do people's hair.
.com: With Halloween coming up, what would you be for Halloween?
PDE: I'm kind of low-key obsessed with Nicki Minaj, so I'd want to be that probably. But our skin complexion is really different, but I might be able to pull it off. Or Ciara. She can really dance.
.com: Who is your favorite professional athlete?
PDE: Kobe Bryant. I respect him. He's a really great athlete. Even though people talk trash on him, he still hustles and grinds. He just blocks out everything and does what he does.
.com: What is your biggest fear?
PDE: Bugs in general, but specifically spiders and bees. Bees, especially since they can sense when you're scared. I will sprint away.
.com: Who has been the most influential person/people in your life?
PDE: My family. You go through a lot with them growing up and you learn from stuff. They motivate me.
Previous Thursdays With ...
Lauren Van Orden