Q&A: Jami Bjorklund

One of the grittiest and toughest players to ever don a Gonzaga uniform, 5'11" Jami Bjorklund gives Zag fans insights into her athletic upbringing, why she chose GU, her life and what is truly important to her.

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GN: When did you start playing basketball, and why? And what other sports did you play while growing up, and how good were you at them?

JB: I've been playing basketball ever since I can remember. I guess it sort of just runs in the family - my dad, Grandpa Duane, and Uncle Steve have all played basketball and have all coached me while growing up. I also played soccer all the way through elementary (on a boys team), tennis and volleyball in Junior High, and track my Freshman year of High School. I was okay at the high jump. I would have kept playing volleyball and tennis, but I had (and still have) a clavical problem. The doctor told me it would be easier on my collar bone if I chose a sport - that was easy. So throughout High School I focused on basketball and loved every second of it!

GN: Tell us about your high school career at University, and describe your recruitment and why you ultimately chose Gonzaga?

I loved my high school career. I had the best teammates and coaches ever. I played on the varsity team all three years, and each year I was on 1st team all-GSL. My Sophomore year was kind of a bummer because I busted my shoulder in the first game, but I fought back and was able to finish out the season. My last two years were my favorite, especially because I was able to play with my little sister Angie. We made some great memories I will cherish forever! Our team went to state those 2 years, placing 6th my Senior year. That year I made first team all-state.

I was recruited by several schools on the west side. I had always dreamed of going to California for college for some reason, but when it came down to it I knew Gonzaga was the perfect fit for me. I loved all the coaches and players, small class sizes, close to home (so my family could watch me play and I could still get those home-cooked meals), beautiful campus and basketball facility, and I just felt so comfortable. After my visit I came home and told my dad right away that I knew Gonzaga was the school for me!

GN: What are the differences between high school and college hoops, from the coaching to the game itself and anything else you can think of?

JB: College basketball is way quicker paced. The players are stronger and more athletic. EVERYONE is good. I can pass it to anyone on my team and have complete confidence in their ability to score. I learned real quick when I came to Gonzaga that I couldn't dribble baseline anymore and shoot my signature little jumper. Instead, I had to work on driving middle and perfecting my three-point shot. I never shot the three in high school, and it has become one of my roles as a college player. College practices are way longer and harder on the body and mind than high school practices. They expect more out of you. I have doubled my basketball knowledge in a year since I've been playing at Gonzaga. We review tons of game film and actually learn about the tendencies of our opponents. College basketball is a job, but it's the funnest job I could ever ask for!

GN: What aspects of your game are you working on the most this offseason, and what are your personal goals this summer?

JB: This summer I am focusing on my ball handling, dribble jumper to the middle, shooting, and my ability to create my own shot. All these things are pretty fun to work on. My weakest point is probably ball handling, and that should get more fun the better I get at it. My personal goals are to work on my game every day, grow closer to the Lord, and spend as much time as I can with my sister since this is the last summer we will have together!

GN: What does it mean to you to have your family and friends at all of your home games to cheer on you and your teammates?

JB: I am so blessed to have my family and friends at all my home games! They are so supportive of me and all I do. I love looking up into the stands before every game and seeing my own little cheering section: parents, sister, aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandma, great-grandpa, cousins, boyfriend, and all my friends. I can even hear them when I'm on the court sometimes - I have a very loud family. And my high school teammates come to watch, too. I love still being around Spokane and all my loved ones!

GN: Who influenced you on and off the court the most, in basketball and outside basketball, and how so?

JB: On the court: My dad encouraged me at a young age to practice basketball. He never made me practice, but told me how good I could get if I really wanted to. I remember waking him up at 5:30 every morning while I was in elementary to go rebound for me. We would drive to the gym and play hoops before school started. He inspired me to get better and has always been my coach, even during college I'll call him and he'll come down to rebound and play with me. That's my favorite!

Off the court: My entire family has been my greatest influence off the court. My mom has taught me the importance of loving and caring for others and is always there for me. My dad has taught me the importance of hard work and gives great advice on life. Angie has always been my best friend and the only person with the same exact morals and values as me. Even though she's younger than me, I learn a lot from her. She is a great listener, and I admire her for her love for the Lord!

GN: What can Jami Bjorklund be seen doing when school is out and she's taking time off from hoops? What are her favorite activities, hobbies, etc?

JB: I love the outdoors. I like going on hikes up to waterfalls, bike rides along the river, doing devotions with Angie while watching the sunset, star watching, going boating on the lake, laying in the sun, water skiing, tubing, and jet skiing, camping, floating the river. I also like making quilts, baking, reading a good book, hanging out with friends, traveling, just enjoying life!

GN: What are you majoring in, and why, and if you had to envision yourself ten years from now, what do you see yourself doing?

JB: I am pretty sure I am majoring in business, maybe marketing. I like being around people and selling things that I believe will help them or they will benefit from. In ten years I envision myself married, traveling a little bit, having some sort of job, and maybe even kids, who really knows!?

GN: Three favorite movies? Favorite singer? Group? Food? TV Show? Ice Cream? Book? Actor? Actress? Worst movie ever? Favorite athlete? Snow ski or water ski? Jet-ski or snowmobile? The power to fly or to be invisible?

JB: Movies: Cinderella Man, Miss Congeniality, The Notebook
Singer: Jeremy Camp, Jack Johnson
Food: ribs and mashed potatoes
TV show: 24
Ice cream: half-baked
Book: Bible and Captivating
Actor: Brad Pitt
Actress: Sandra Bullock
Worst movie ever: Napoleon Dynamite
Favorite athlete: Jackie Stiles
Water ski
Jet ski
Power to fly

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