A Q&A With Ashley Newsome

Mississippi State junior volleyball athlete Ashley Newsome talks one-on-one with Gene's Page.

When did you first start playing volleyball and why did you decide to play it?
"I started playing when I was in the sixth grade. My sister Amber played it and then my best friend started playing it so I started playing it just to be with my friends. Then I fell in love with it because it was so exciting."

What makes it so exciting to you?
"It's exciting because of how much motion is involved in it when you are playing and doing things good."

When did you start playing club volleyball?
"I started playing club in the eight grade."

What are your thoughts about playing club volleyball?
"It was a lot of fun. You got to hang out with a bunch of girls from different high schools. You also learned a lot more because you get to play a lot more."

You obviously are a really good player because you are playing at Mississippi State and in the SEC, possibly the toughest volleyball conference in the nation. Why did you decide to sign with Mississippi State?
"I got recruited more for basketball than I did volleyball. I was recruited by Mississippi State in both sports."

Why did you decide on volleyball over basketball?
"I loved both sports but I really loved volleyball."

Did you ever think about trying to play both sports in college?
"I love basketball and I go to their games a lot but I just couldn't handle the stress of playing both sports in college because it would have been a lot of work."

This past summer what did you do to improve your game?
"I ran a lot and lifted weights. And I actually worked a lot of volleyball camps around my high school area. That helped me a lot. When you help coach someone you are telling them what you also basically need to be working on."

What do you learn from coaching volleyball camps?
"You learn how to communicate with the girls. Some girls you can really tell them what to do and get at them hard, but other girls you have to talk to them calmly. Also, correcting them is sort of like a reminder to me for what I need to do."

How long have you worked camps?
"I've been working them since I was a senior in high school. I did local high schools. I would go and ask if I could help out with things like hitting drills and blocking drills."

Since you have been at Mississippi State and have coached camps what's it like to coach girls when they know you are an SEC player. Being in the SEC is a big deal and they probably know that.
"It is a big deal. They are so excited about it because it's SEC volleyball. And they really want to know about my experience; how much practice there is, is it fun, what do you think about your coaches and your teammates? It's really fun to tell them all about that stuff because they are so interested in it."

Since you obvious enjoy working camps as an instructor, what do you want to do career-wise when you graduate, coach?
"I want to do something like be a high school counselor. And if I get the chance I would like to coach. I could coach either volleyball or basketball but I would mainly focus on volleyball."

You have a new coach, Jenny Hazelwood. What do you think about her now that you've had a chance to work under her for a spring?
"I like her a lot because she relates to us more. She's younger and knows what we are going through as student-athletes and all the demands on us. And I like how we can talk to her about volleyball and really about anything on and off the court. Communication is the main thing."

Other MSU volleyball players have talked about her intensity and how goal-oriented she is. What are your thoughts about that?
"I like it because it's a lot more intense for us. And I like that we have goals. I really think this year we are going to meet a lot of them."

What have you seen from this team that leads you to believe that you will meet a lot of the goals?
"I see it in the workout room with (strength) Coach (Richard) Akins. We have improved so much from the beginning. We have gotten so much better and he's always saying he's so proud of us due to how much we have accomplished. I just really feel like everybody has their minds on the goals and what we have to do to achieve them. We want to win and have a good season this year."

Were you close to those goals last year?
"We weren't that close last year. We were a team but we were kind of like a team of individuals. Now, I really feel like we are coming together more."

You are going to be a junior this year so you have two years to play under Coach Hazelwood. You must be excited about that.
"I am. I want this year to be good, then the next year to be even better. And we have all the talent and we are getting even more talent in the next year, so it's going to be really exciting."

What do you think the long-range possibilities are for this program under Coach Hazelwood?
"We are going to shock people. I really feel like we are going to be really good."

Coach Hazelwood's goal is to compete for national championships. Do you think that is possible at Mississippi State?
"Some day it will be. It's something that we are going to have build up to. It's not going to be like we will win it this year but she will build up to it and she will get one."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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