“When I play Volleyball, I try to focus on the experience rather than on my performance. If you’re mentally ready, your performance will be good. If you’re only thinking about winning, you can’t enjoy the game. My job as setter is to make the players around me better. But the most important thing, and that is also one of my strengths, is to bring the team together so that it’s more than the sum of its parts.”
On her daily routine
“I wake up in the morning and I ask myself what I could do to improve even more – on and off the court. I’m happiest when I’m improving. At the moment, I’m learning what kind of set each of my teammates prefers. That’s the most important thing. The second most important is ensuring I get enough power behind the ball and play it to a high, neutral position. I also play guitar every day, and I’m getting better at that too!”
On being too short
“My college coach said that you don’t have to be tall, you have to be good. Well, who wants an easy life? Things would have been simpler if I were taller, but then I would never have become a professional Volleyball player. My goal is to see how good I can get. You can’t do that if things are simple! When you’ve won something, you think you’ve achieved your goal. But you haven’t – it’s the process of getting there that’s enjoyable. There are no big moments, just lots of identical ones – and you can enjoy them.”
On ambition and having fun
“I’ve been driven ever since I was a kid. My parents always had to tell me to slow down and enjoy myself. When I meet players who’ve never been on a team with me, they’re always amazed that I laugh and tell jokes – because I always look so stern when I play!”
On celebrating her World Championship gold medal
“It was late after the World Championship final. We went to the hotel, had some pizza, listened to music, congratulated each other. Some of us were happy, others were sentimental. We just wanted to be together, to enjoy the moment. When I got back home, I went shopping and bought lots of clothes, but that was it. I was only back there for a week. The best gift I got was being able to spend time with my friends and family, so that’s what I did. I didn’t talk about Volleyball – I went out and was simply a totally normal person.”
On the things she misses in Europe
“It was a challenge moving away from home. I’m away from my friends and family for seven or eight months at a time. Above all, I miss the everyday stuff, like Sunday brunch when the whole family sits down together to eat. My friends go out on Friday evenings, but not me – I’ve chosen a different path. I think I’ll quit Volleyball after the 2016 Olympics. But I know that whenever I’ve planned anything, things have always turned out differently.”
Read full interview here.
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