Interview: Jenni Benningfield

With the WNBA season underway, former Vanderbilt star Jenni Benningfield, who is now a rookie forward for the Indiana Fever, is learning about life in the premier women's professional league in the world. VandyMania's Whitney D. caught up with Jenni before the Fever's 62-59 victory over the New York Liberty to talk about how things are going for her. Here's what she had to say.

VM: Jenni, people back in Nashville often ask how you're doing. What would you like to tell them?

JB: Well, I'm having the time of my life. It's been everything I thought it would be and more. It reminds me of Vanderbilt in the fact that our team is like a family. We all are very close and care about each other on and off the court. It's making this experience even that much more enjoyable.

I'm learning a lot, and I definitely feel like Vanderbilt as a school and as a program and everyone that I was involved with definitely helped me prepare for what I'm going through right now. I just feel confident in the person I've become because of the experiences I had at Vanderbilt and also with everything else I've done in my life.

I'm definitely getting to see a little bit in the past year of every part of basketball. But especially on the point of not playing a lot, or at all, I definitely sit and learn and see a different part of the game. So I don't sit there and pout about it. I'm very lucky to even be on a team and to be a part of it.

So it's been great for me because I've been able to see things that you might not ever see while you're playing and learning a lot that way and that kind of thing So it's been good as far as helping me grow and learn and try to become a better player and person.

I hope everyone down there is doing well. I hope they can make it up for a game -- it's not that far. I would love to see everybody. I guess that's about it!

VM: I know you just got back from a road trip to Seattle and Sacramento. How are road trips different in the WNBA than they were in college?

JB: Well, for one thing, we're on our own. In college, every meal we ate together and that type of thing. We had curfew, things like that. Here, this is our job. We have to be responsible and act like it's our job. We all do stuff on our own. We don't eat together, we don't do anything like that. You just have to be on time for the bus to leave to go to the gym, and when you get back, you can do whatever.

It's been great because in different cities I've been able to hang out and see friends and family I haven't seen in a while and get to see the city. That's one thing that's different. In college we went to a lot of places in the United States, but we didn't really have a whole lot of time or opportunity to really go out and see the city.

Now I've been able to do that and go out to eat with some of my teammates and meet their family and friends. They've showed me some things in each city, so it's been different, but it's part of the job, and it's fun. Road trips are fun, especially like I was saying, we get along so great, and it's fun to hang out with each other.

VM: Did you see any of Seattle while you were there?

JB: I did. We were there for several days, and we played right next to Space Needle, so I got to see that, and that was neat. I didn't get to go up it, I wish I would have, but it was good. We played there sometime when I was at Vanderbilt, but we didn't get to see much. I got to see a little bit of downtown, and a friend of mine took me and drove me around to see a little bit more of the city, which was nice.

VM: When did you get back?

JB: Wednesday morning. We took a red eye after the game in Sacramento on Tuesday night and didn't get back until noon on Wednesday. We do a lot more traveling than in college. It can be hard, but we have to be responsible and get things done because this is our job. We're all going for one goal, and everybody's staying focused. It's been a lot of fun so far, and I know it's only going to get better.

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Photos copyright 2005 by WhitneyD for Top Stories