Eight Electrifying Questions

Last year, Franci Girard started as a middle blocker for Stanford's National Champion Women's Volleyball team. Thursday night she shifted to a role as an outside hitter, recording eight kills with a .467 hitting percentage in the win over Oregon. The native New Yorker is equally versatile off the court with a dynamic personality. Get to know the engaging Stanford sophomore in this edition of Eight Electrifying Questions.

1. How did you spend your summer?

This summer, I went home to New York right after school for about two or three weeks.  I just chilled out with my mom and sister and some of my friends from home.  After that, I left to train with the Junior National Team in Lake Placid (N.Y.), so it wasn't too far from home.  On the last day of training at Lake Placid, I sprained my ankle.  Preseason was not too far away, so I had planned on coming back home to train for that, but the injury set me back a little bit.  I ended up just chilling at home with mom and rehabbing the ankle!

Did you happen to go on any vacations or anything?

No.  Actually I didn't!  I was basically in New York for the whole summer.

You mention hanging out with your mom a lot during the summer.  What sort of things would you guys do?

I took my mom out to see a few movies – we had "Movie Night."  There was shopping… and she tried to teach me how to cook, but I ended up just watching her cook and eating afterwards!  Nothing too big, just spending time with her because I'm so far away from home.  It was good to chill out with her.

Does your mom ever get a chance to see you play, since you are so far away?

Yeah.  She was actually here a few weeks ago.  I don't remember which game.  She'll probably be back in either November or December for a few matches.  So she gets to come out and see me play periodically.

2. Who is your favorite Stanford athlete to watch perform?

I'd have to say Candice Wiggins.  I'm kind of biased because she's my best friend!  One of the things I love about her is how she goes hard all the time on the court.  She's also not a selfish player.  When she's out there, you can tell she's all about the team.  She has so much talent!  She's really intense and really amazing to watch.

Were you bummed that she decided not to do volleyball this season?

I was, just because it would have been cool to be on the same team with her.  But at the same time, I think she had an important decision to make and through the whole thing, I kept on telling her she had to do what she wanted to do or believed to be the best for her.  That decision was really, really hard, to decide not to play [volleyball].  But basketball is her thing, so I supported her 100 percent.

Who has been your favorite volleyball player to watch?

I feel like Ogonna [Nnamani] is like… she was just so amazing on so many different levels.  To watch Ogonna hit a ball is unlike anything you will probably see!  I'm serious!  Again, not just watching her, but being on and off the court with her, she's just such a humble person and so motivating.  There were so many times last year when things weren't going right and Ogonna just made me believe that our team was amazing and that we could do anything.  Ogonna would definitely be that person.

New York isn't known for being a volleyball hotspot.  Who did you look up to when you were playing?

I started volleyball when I was in the 9th grade and I looked up to my high school coach, Colin Henry.  He's the reason why I even started playing volleyball and took it seriously.  He was on the Jamaican National Team and he just happened to coach my high school during my freshman year.  I was trying out, thinking that it was fun and something that I enjoyed, but I had no idea that I could play for a Division I school.  All throughout high school, and even now, I talk to him.  He gives me advice all the time.

Were you playing other sports as well?

I was playing basketball up until the 10th grade.

Was it difficult switching from basketball to volleyball?

Yes.  It was really different.  Basketball and volleyball are two completely different sports.  It was hard going straight from volleyball season right into basketball.  It was difficult on my body and trying to maintain a respectable GPA.  It was tough, but it was fun as well.

3. Where is your favorite place to shop?

That's tough because there are so many places where I love to shop!  I want to say So Ho, in New York.  If you want me to give you a specific store, it would probably be H&M.

How would you describe your style?  Funky, casual, preppy…

Definitely not preppy!  I would like to say that I can switch it up – some days I can be casual, other days I can be funky.  I just try to go for what's different.  I don't want to ever be seen as normal or to just blend in.  I like to do things that are really different.  I want people to look and go, "Oh, I never thought about doing it that way."

So I guess you would say that you don't have a typical wardrobe then?

I would say I can change it up.  If I had to describe my wardrobe in one word, it would probably be funky.

4. One place that I have never visited, but would love to is…

China.  I'm actually taking Chinese right now so I'm really into the language and the culture.  Also Nigeria because I have a ton of friends from Nigeria and they all are crazy about it!  I'd like to see what it's really like.

What's been your favorite place that you have traveled to?

It would probably be between Hawai'i and Saint Vincent, where my mom is from.  In Saint Vincent, the food was amazing, and I got to meet some of my relatives while I hadn't known before.  The beaches are beautiful, in both places.

What was the food like in Saint Vincent?

It's hard to explain!  I don't know how to describe it… it's spicy.  To me, it's normal because it is the food my mom cooks.  It is very different from American cuisine.

5. What is something about yourself that not many people know?

One thing about my personality is that I can be really goofy at times.  I think that a lot of people who don't know me probably think that I'm a really serious person and not very silly.  But I can be really, really goofy at times and I don't think people expect that out of me.

6. If you could have one last meal made for you, what would it be?

I would probably have a feast!  It would definitely be a home cooked meal of curry chicken with plantains with rice and peas.

With your mom so far away, there really is no substitute for a home-cooked meal, but have you found anything close to it in the Bay Area?

There is actually a place called Mango Café in downtown Palo Alto that is pretty good.  My roommates and I have been there a couple of times.

Earlier, you also made it seem like you can't cook?

Oh no, I can't cook!  Isn't that sad?

Well technically, you still live in dorms, so food is provided for you…

Well yea.  We kind of just live off of Ramen and ravioli, for now…. Until I learn how to cook!

7. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

To either fly or be invisible.  I really like to travel, so if I could just fly anywhere on Earth, that would be really cool to me.  To be invisible, because it would be really cool to sneak up on people.

So you would use it for your own amusement than anything else?

Pretty much!

8. What is one thing you would want to bring to Stanford from your hometown?

From home, I know it would be my bed because it is the most comfortable thing in life!  The beds here are pretty rough.  This is probably a weird answer, but from my hometown, I'd want to bring The Village, or the So Ho area.  I'd love for there to be something like that in Palo Alto or somewhere near us because it is just a great place for us to hang out, shop, eat…

When you graduate, do you think you'll move back to New York or stay in California?

It is hard to say because I consider myself pretty young.  I can see myself either going back to New York or going to Los Angeles.  I miss the big city life.  But when my senior year rolls around, I might be in a very different place.

You said you missed the big city.  Was that a concern of yours at all when you accepted the scholarship to Stanford?

Oh, definitely.  I've lived in New York my entire life, and Palo Alto is very different.  But when I was thinking about coming to Stanford, I also viewed it as a good change and a challenge for me.  I don't have any regrets.  I am very far away from home and there are times where I miss my family – actually I always miss my family!  It's different, but it is a positive different.

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