Interview: Cherish Stringfield

Two years ago Cherish Stringfield came to Vanderbilt as a member of Melanie Balcomb's first recruiting class. Last month the 5'7 junior guard from Suffolk, Virginia, talked to VandyMania about the summer, becoming an upperclassman, the upcoming season . . . and Shakespeare.

VM: Cherish, first, tell me about the summer.

CS: We took a month off, then we came back to summer school. We worked hard when Lori [Alexander] was here, then we got a new strength and conditioning coach, Tasha Weddle, and she's been great.

VM: How has that change over been? You saw a lot of Lori your first two years here when she was the strength and conditioning coach.

CS: It's been an okay change. We've adapted to it. We don't have a problem with going from one thing to the next. We're still trying to learn and figure out all of her philosophy and her training style and things of that nature, but the transition has gone well.

VM: Overall, is it a fairly similar kind of program to what you've had before?

CS: Yes, it is. It's very similar. There are small changes, but there are a lot of similarities. We lift weights three days a week and we run three days a week. So on some of the days you lift and you run. We do a lot of plyos. We do a lot of agilities, and we do a lot of running. All combined in one big workout. So it's pretty fun.

VM: Personally, in terms of your game, what did you work on over the summer? What was your focus?

CS: My 3-point shot because it went astray. I didn't get a lot of repetition last year. I was dealing with a couple of injuries that limited me from doing a lot of things.

VM: How are they?

CS: They're better, much better. I'm still dealing with small issues, but overall, I'm healthy. I'm ready to go.

VM: And this year, you're an upperclassman.

CS: It's really weird now. It seems like just two years ago we were the babies, and we were allowed to make mistakes and say, oops, but now we have people looking up at us, so we constantly have to watch what we do and what we say and how we act because we have a legacy to leave on to the younger kids. So yeah, we are upperclassmen now.

VM: Do you feel that?

CS: Yeah. The whole summer was the transition. It was really weird at first. We were like, oh no, what are we going to do? But just like with the whole transition from Lori to Tasha, we just accepted this, embraced it, and dealt with it, and nothing has stopped our progress.

VM: What do you remember from the days when you were coming in that helps you with the new people coming in this year?

CS: Well, on the court I try to talk to the freshmen a lot about the things we do and what's important and how to stay focused. I've shared stories with them about my experience as a freshman and just tried to help them deal with what they're about to go through. It's a fun process. It's their first year of college basketball, and it's completely different from high school, and I've just tried to share the good and the bad with them so they'll be ready, or at least have a heads up about the season and things like that.

VM: If you look at the roster this year and look at positions, it looks like the entire junior class is going to be heavily counted on to make big contributions.

CS: Yes, yes, we are. We're really excited about that. When we came in here as freshmen, we had a dream, and now as juniors, two years removed with the Sweet 16 the past two years, we still have that dream, and we're still trying to get to it. I think now as we are much older, we're more experienced and we know what coach wants and we know what it takes. We've been to the Sweet 16 twice. It's only going to take one more weekend of hard work and pushing through to become national champions, which is what we want to do. And I think we'll do that this year. I'm very confident.

VM: Are there any particular things you're doing during the year to prepare yourself for that time?

CS: Just working harder to reach that one weekend. We all know that we just have to work a little bit harder during preseason and do all the little things earlier so it will carry on over to that one more weekend. So we're just running harder, lifting harder -- studying harder, too. (Laughs.)

VM: Speaking of studying, you ended up on the Academic All-SEC Honor roll last year.

CS: Yeah, I did. Yeah. That was a proud accomplishment. I was very proud of my hard work, and I'm going to try to continue to do that in the classroom because that is also very important. That's why I'm here.

VM: What's your major?

CS: I'm an English major.

VM: I didn't know that. Do you like to write?

CS: Yes, I love to write.

VM: What kind of writing do you enjoy?

CS: That's a good question. Any type of writing. I write poetry on my own. It's like a form of releasing for me. I write poetry a lot.

VM: Is that something you've done since you were a little girl?

CS: I picked it up probably in high school. I realized that I just really like to read, and I like to write. And then I became okay at it, so I was like, oh, this could be something interesting. And ever since high school learning about Shakespeare and all those literary authors who a lot of people run away from, but I really enjoy reading it, especially Shakespeare.

VM: Really?

CS: Yep. I would really like to teach that on the collegiate level one day, if I don't become a coach first.

VM: Do you have a favorite play or a favorite work of Shakespeare?

CS: No, I really like all of his works. I think the thing about English that I like is the interpretation of any type of literary work, like being able to get through the textual things and go and find the deeper meaning. I really enjoy doing that. That's why I think I like poetry a lot because through your poems, it can mean so many things. Like you just have to search for a deeper meaning, and you can really make it mean what you want it to mean. And that's why I really enjoy about literature and poetry.

VM: Besides Shakespeare, do you have any other favorite authors, either poetry or otherwise?

CS: No, I'm just a Shakespeare girl for right now!

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