Q&A with Jessica Fishburn

We have brought you the in-depth stories of four of the five freshman in this highly acclaimed 2005 class starting with Stanford Volleyball. Cynthia Barboza, Foluke Akinradewo, Erin Waller and Alex Fisher were the officially recognized quartet who signed Letters of Intent, but the fifth and final frosh in this class is a walk-on with serious talent and capital Cardinal genes. It's time you met Jessica Fishburn.

So how have the first few days of practice been for you?

Practice has been great.  I was a little nervous when I came in, but I'm really enjoying the team and everybody is really good.  They are really challenging me and I'm liking it a lot.

Is the level of play what you had envisioned?

Yes, definitely!  It is actually a little higher than what I had anticipated.  It is really fun to work with them because you always learn more when you play with better players.

Would you say it was a little bit overwhelming at times?

The first day was a little overwhelming.  I got a little nervous, but after that, I started to fit in with the team and they are really good about letting people come in and playing with them.  Everything ended up being ok.

So in high school, you played all the way around for The Brentwood School, but at Stanford, coaches are thinking about putting you in the libero position.  What do you think about the change?

I actually really like it.  I personally think ball control is a pretty big thing that I'd love to be a part of.  I always want to help out the team, so if my ball control is the best thing that I can do, then I'd like to do that.

If the change goes through, do you'll think miss the hitting and the blocking?

Maybe I'll miss it a little bit, but I get to play on the beach as well so I can do all that stuff out there.  It's ok though because I like defense and passing; it's my favorite part anyway.

So where in NorCal will you be playing on the beach?

I haven't figured that out yet, but during the summers, I'll be back home.  I am not sure about the NorCal beaches yet, but I'll learn about them soon I'm hoping.

So school hasn't started yet at Stanford.  Will you be glad once classes start and your college experience as a student begins?

Yeah, I will definitely be excited.  I'm a little bit nervous, but it's all going to be ok.  Everybody has reassured me that everything will be good.  It's a little bit stressful when you are an athlete, but it gets easy once you get used to it.

What do you think you'll be looking forward to as a Stanford student?

I like to challenge myself academically, but it's really cool when you can do both volleyball and academics.  I'm really looking forward to doing that balance.

So I hear your father is beach legend Andy Fishburn.  Would you say that he had a great impact on your volleyball career?

Oh definitely.  I started playing with him.  He was my first coach.  I started playing with him as a four-year-old, trying to pass with him and doing my best to keep up.  He definitely influenced me.

Did you play any other sports growing up?

I played soccer, tennis, basketball, and I did track as well.

With your dad as such a legend, did you feel any pressure to follow in his footsteps or was he low-key about letting you decide what path to take?

He was pretty low-key.  It was always me who tried to become like my dad.  Even when I was younger, I would always want to play with him.  He's like my idol, so volleyball has always been my sport.  I love it.  It has nothing to do with him.  He didn't push me into it.  I love the sport, so that's what I wanted to do.

With his attending Stanford and playing volleyball here, did that play a significant part when deciding what college to attend?

Yes.  I actually have wanted to go to Stanford since I was really little.  It was my dream school.  Definitely, my dad had an influence on that, since he went there, and that's where I learned all about it.  He definitely influenced my decision because Stanford seems like such a cool school because he went there!

What were the ultimate factors that lead you to become a Stanford Cardinal?

You know, I always like the sports – they were always really, really good.  But the academic thing is really important to me.  I want to have a career later on, and I want to be able to pursue something that's not just athletic later on in life.  I like having a school with great academics and a great athletic program.

When were you first aware that John Dunning and Denise Corlett were courting you?

I received letters in my junior year, but I wasn't positive if they were going to be following through.  Once I started talking with them, I got a better idea, and I realized I was being recruited.

What other schools were recruiting you at the time?

I actually got a lot of letters, but my other top choices were USC and Duke, but it was too far away.  However, Stanford was always my favorite.

And you're a walk-on, correct?

No.  Well actually, this year… I'm on scholarship, but for two years, and that will be for my junior and senior years.

What was the most difficult part about the recruiting process?

I had a problem with being open to other schools besides Stanford, and it was a bad idea to go in being closed-minded about where you want to go. And I definitely was!  It was tough because if I hadn't been accepted by Stanford, I would have had a really tough time deciding where else I would go.

Do you have any funny stories that occurred during your recruiting process?  Anything that sticks out in your mind?

I thought this was funny.  My parents - actually my whole family - joked about how nobody ever got any mail except me during my junior year.  That would be kind of funny I guess.

So you mentioned ball control is a strength of yours.  What other strengths would you say you have as a player?

A lot of the girls on the team are like this, but I think leadership is a big thing for me.  Just trying to get all the players to come together and stay together is a big thing I like to do.

What would you say you like to improve upon in order to better prepare yourself for your first collegiate season?

John Dunning always talks about visualization and being able to see what's going to happen before it actually does.  I would like to start anticipating more and seeing how the ball is going to come at me or playing the ball before it gets hit or served.

What in your personality allows you to thrive in volleyball?

I'm really competitive.  I always like to do my best, and I like my team to do their best.  It is just a big thing for me.  I like to win, but it is big if we all work together.  If we don't win, we don't win.  The most important thing is that we all try really, really hard.  That's the whole competitive thing with me.

Who is the best player who have faced, whether it was in high school or club?

I would probably say in club, it would have to be Cynthia Barboza.  I played against her a couple of times, but it was only a couple.  She was awesome.

What about her made you in awe of her?

She is a really consistent player and she knows where to put the ball and knows everything about the game.  It is interesting and fun to learn from her because I'm on the court with her now.

What about in high school?

The toughest player I faced in high school was Traci Weamer.  I forget what college she is going to right now.  She was on Western Christian, who is our big rival.  She had really good ball placement, and it was tough defensively to be able to cover everything.  She was very, very good up at the net.

Who is your favorite volleyball player to watch and why?

I really like Misty May because I know she played indoors and outdoors, and she's a really good role model because she's got such a great attitude about everything.  I really like watching her because she's really consistent, and I've always wanted to be consistent.

Would you say she was one of your role models growing up?

I would say yes, but mostly in the recent years.  My role model growing up was my dad.  Recently, I've been able to go out and watch her at Manhattan [Beach].

What are your future aspirations - do you want to make it in the AVP tour, go for the Indoor National Team?

I am thinking more AVP.  I really like playing on the beach.  I like the responsibility of just having two players on the court.  I am really hoping to be able to pursue that later on.

Everyone knows that you are a highly touted volleyball player out of Southern California.  What is something about you that no one really knows about?

Let me think for a moment… it's pretty tough because everyone knows a lot about me because I'm pretty much an open person!  Oh, there is something I can think of.  When I was born, I went through a surgery called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

What does that mean?

It just means… I couldn't breathe, so I had to have surgery and I still have scars.  Not many people know that.  I was a very sickly baby.

When you aren't playing volleyball, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Anytime I can get down to the beach is what I like to do.  I love being down there and in the ocean.  Being at the beach is my favorite place.

So was it difficult for you to leave the beaches of Southern California to come up to Palo Alto?

Yeah, a little bit.  I belong to a beach club, so I always go down there.  But you get used to it.  Plus, there are a lot of beaches here, so I can still go down to the ocean and hang out.  I actually did that the other day.

What do you think your major will be at Stanford?

I have actually always liked science, so I am thinking about going pre-med.  I am going to do Biology if I can.

Do you have aspirations of being a doctor?

Yeah, I want to be a doctor, though I'm not sure what kind of doctor.  I'm thinking maybe dermatology or something of that sort.  Definitely something to do with biology and science.


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