Aug. 25, 2011
Every Thursday, UCLABruins.com will sit down with a member of the women's volleyball team. This week, we sit down with sophomore Kelly Reeves, who discusses her summer in Peru with the U.S. Women's Junior National Team, her close relationship with her family and her obsession with planking.
UCLABruins.com: How excited are you and the team for the season to start this weekend?
Kelly Reeves: I'm really excited. It'll be our first time playing together as a team and I think we've been working really hard during practice and everything is coming together. We are starting to get into system now and everything is starting to click.
.com: What does this team need to do better in order to advance further in the NCAA Tournament?
KR: The main thing we need to do is stay in our system, running our offense and not worrying about the other team. We do need to know the scouting of our opponents, but we can't overstress that because when we do that we sometimes start to panic and not play our game. We have to worry about us and go out every match and punch them in the face and give it to them.
.com: How big of an honor was it for you to be named the team captain of the U.S. Women's Junior National Team this summer?
KR: It was unreal. I was so excited and had no idea it was going to happen. When we were training up at Saint Mary's (before the tournament in Peru) and scrimmaging with China, the referee called for captains and our coach (Rob Browning) told me to go do the coin toss and I was caught off guard. It was such an honor and I just loved it. Having that bar under your number (designating team captain) was very awesome and getting to represent the USA was an unbelievable experience. I enjoyed every moment of it.
.com: What are some differences between the collegiate and the international games?
KR: One of the big things is the ball. We use the Mikasa ball and it's a little different than the ball we use here. It's a little heavier and when you serve it floats, so when the ball comes at you on serve-receive it would just sink. The pace of the game is also quicker. Everyone runs really fast offenses. Also, we (the U.S.) only got to train for a week or so, but the other countries got to train year round, so we were at a little bit of a disadvantage.
.com: How was the experience of visiting Peru? Would you ever go back?
KR: It's definitely different than America. It's definitely third world. We got to see some cool stuff, but the living conditions and the buildings are so different. People also drive like mad men. I'm surprised our drivers didn't run somebody over. But the citizens of Peru are very patriotic about their team and country. One thing that I liked was when we drove around each building had a Peruvian flag on it. That was cool, because you don't see that here. I don't know if I'd go back. It's good to see what other parts of the world are like, but it was definitely a culture shock.
.com: Have you traveled anywhere else outside the U.S. before? Where would you like to go?
KR: I went to Italy with family when I was really little and when I was with the U.S. Youth National Team (2008) we went to Puerto Rico. When I'm done here I would love to go overseas and play volleyball. I'm open to going anywhere. I like Europe and I've always wanted to go to Australia for vacation.
.com: What is the strangest thing you ate in Peru?
KR: After one of our matches, Coach Browning said we were all going to go get a snack. So we got on the bus and went to this restaurant, he went inside and picked up a bunch of styrofoam containers. It turns out he brought us fried guinea pig. It's probably the weirdest thing I've ever eaten in my life. It tasted like chicken. I had to do it though because it's a Peruvian delicacy.
.com: Your mother went to UCLA. So did your aunt, grandfather, cousin and brother. When did you know you wanted to go to UCLA?
KR: When I was little, we'd always come to the football games and I would say I wanted to a Bruin. Then high school came around and the recruiting process started and I became open to anything. I wanted to venture out and look at other schools, but I didn't have that feeling at those schools. I always felt that UCLA was in my blood. So when I took my visit here and went to the UCLA-USC men's basketball game, the atmosphere hit me and I realized I want to be a Bruin. It felt like home. So when we drove home that night I told my mom that I wanted to be a Bruin.
.com: What was it like to have your mother coach you in club volleyball?
KR: It was fun. I really enjoyed it. She has a great knowledge for the game. She really wouldn't treat me different than any of the other girls. She might have been a little harder on me and she'd push me and I'd get mad, but when I got older I realized she knew what she was doing and she was helping me to become the person I've become today.
.com: Have you seen photos and/or videos of your mom playing in college?
KR: I have. It's hilarious. I didn't realize that she was pretty good. She played middle and setter, which is kind of a weird combo, but she rocked it back in the day. The attire was so different back then. I kind of like them, I think we should bring it back. Like the professional teams do retro days, we should do that. Just for fun. But she still plays every once in a while. She was in the Alumni match playing middle blocker. She's still got it in her.
.com: You have one of the more outgoing personalities on the team. Where does that come from?
KR: I don't know. I'm just really different than most people. Sometimes I am kind of shy, but last year I was really outgoing. It's in my blood. I was an energetic kid who was always go-go-go. I was always playing outside. I love being active. I try to make it fun for everyone. My job is to make people laugh. If I don't make people laugh it's not fun for me. People sometimes give me crap for it, but I don't care. I always smile. I'm smiling right now.
.com: What part of your game do you feel you need to work on the most?
KR: There isn't one thing. I think I need to improve on all my areas. With hitting, I need to work on reaching higher and getting over the top of the ball more. Blocking, I need to get over the net. I'm getting better at the footwork, but I need to get better at pressing over. Defensively, staying low, going after everything and working on my serve-receive passing. I also want to develop a tougher serve.
.com: What was your most exciting moment from your first collegiate season?
KR: Stanford. That was unreal. I'll probably remember that win forever. It was definitely a battle and back and forth and that's why it was so fun. I liked the Washington game too. They are such a physical team and somehow we pulled the win out. I remember in the third set we were horrible and down by a lot. Sealy calls a timeout and told us to let this game go, save our energy and come out in game four and five and win it. And we did it. It was so cool for him to say that to us because he really believed in us.
.com: Go through your pre-game routine?
KR: About 10 minutes before Sealy comes in to talk to us pre-game, Katie (Camp) and I will always do our armbands. She's my partner and I think we are going to continue it this year. Then after he leaves, I'd always do the "Dance to the Dynamite" (dancing to Dynamite by Taio Cruz). I just try to stay loose and happy. That's just me.
.com: What do you enjoy the most about playing volleyball?
KR: I just love the competitiveness of everything. The best feeling though, the reason I play volleyball, is when you get a great kill or a solo block straight down and you just celebrate, double-fist pump. It's the best feeling ever. I like the hustle plays too. Those long rallies are intense. Volleyball is who I am. It makes me so energetic and happy. Every day I wake up and I say I get to play the greatest game ever.
.com: If you didn't play volleyball, what sport would you play?
KR: When I was young, I thought I was going to be a soccer player. The next Mia Hamm. I started when I was eight and I loved it, running around, and I loved doing headers. When the goalie would punt it, I'd always head it for some reason.
.com: What other UCLA athletic events do you like to attend?
KR: Basketball. I went to about five games last year. They are so much fun. I got to know Reeves Nelson and he's cool. I went to a gymnastics meet. They are impressive and interesting to watch. They do some unbelievable things. I like water polo. I saw tennis because I know a few tennis players. I got around to a lot of them and support them because they come support us.
.com: What has been your favorite class at UCLA?
KR: Scandinavian 50. That was my first class here. It was cool because there were a lot of athletes in that class. It was interesting because you got to read short stories. I relived "The Little Mermaid", because I hadn't read that since I was little. Also Arts and Architecture. It was interesting to learn about that stuff. Professor Winters was so into the art and music.
.com: What is your biggest fear?
KR: I don't like failing. It sucks. Death kind of scares me too.
.com: What is your obsession with planking?
KR: My little brother Jake and I watched a video on YouTube once and thought it was really funny, so we started planking things around the house and then we said we should make an album. We would go all over Cardiff and Encinitas and just start planking things. Each day we'd have to plank something. We got addicted to it. I went to Peru and we started planking things over there. I planked the Bruin Bear. It's just different. People think it's stupid, but who cares. It doesn't harm anyone. I think it's funny. You just have to laugh at it. On the internet, there are some really good planks.
.com: Who is the team's class clown?
KR: Nikki Casale is pretty funny. She always makes me laugh. Her dancing gets me to laugh. She's energetic too. I always go to her if I need to laugh. Just saying her name makes me laugh.
.com: If you could trade places with a celebrity for a day, who would it be?
KR: I wouldn't like to be a celebrity because they have so much drama. They always have a camera in their face. I'd hate that. I'd have to say (U.S. National Team member) Logan Tom. I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos of her. She's a fighter. She's been through it all and works her butt off. She may not be the biggest, but she is really smart and always finds a way to put the ball down. I really admire that. I'd love to see what she does day in and day out. I really look up to her.
.com: What are the best and worst things about traveling?
KR: The best thing is sleeping in the beds. When you live in the dorms, you have this twin extra long. It fits, but it's just not wide enough and I like to use the entire bed to stretch my legs out. That's my favorite part about going on away trips. You get the nice queen-sized bed. I love that. And the sheets, the clean towels. You get nice food and per diem. Per diem is awesome. The worst thing is traveling home on a Sunday, because that's our day off and half of it is spent traveling. And when you come home, you have to catch up on your homework and laundry. That's kind of brutal.
.com: What is your favorite website?
KR: Facebook. I'm always on Facebook. That's how I communicate with all my friends. And you can post statuses about UCLA volleyball and people will take interest and follow you.
.com: If you could have one super power, what would it be?
KR: I'd like to fly. When I think about flying, I think of a bald eagle, soaring and looking down. I've always wanted to skydive and haven't done it yet.
.com: Who has been the most influential person in your life?
KR: I'd have to say my mom. Ever since I was growing up she'd tell me about her years here and the Olympics and ever since then I'd have dreams about being in the Olympics. She pushes me day in and day out. My dad does the same thing. He tells me "it starts now ... what are you going to do today to make yourself better?" He's always told me that. Both my parents are very influential. They've made me the person I am today. When I was little, I was irresponsible and had a hard time following through with stuff. But they taught me to always have a plan and do things with a purpose. They taught me to manage my time and they taught me discipline. They raised me to have good manners and they've made me a well-rounded kid. Volleyball-wise, they always taught me to do something every day, whether it's cardio, lifting, something every day. Without them, I don't know what I'd be doing. I love them to death.
Previous Thursdays With ...