Interview: Holly Rogers

Freshman guard Holly Rogers is looking forward to two important "firsts" this weekend - her first official game as a Vanderbilt Commodore and her first collegiate road trip. After practice on Tuesday afternoon, she talked with VandyMania's Whitney D about becoming a D1 basketball.

VandyMania: You've got your first real, actual college game coming up this weekend. Can you tell me about how that feels?

Holly Rogers: Actually, I have a lot of mixed feelings. I'm excited, of course, because this is my first collegiate game. Since our last game last weekend, I kind of now feel like I'm a real college athlete and actually playing for a Division 1 school in the SEC. This is such a tough game. I feel like team-wise, we're really prepared and ready to go, but as a freshman, I'm ready to actually step out and see what it's like to play in a big game.

VM: In terms of game preparation, you've had a scouting report and a game plan. Is that different from how things were in high school?

HR: Well, I had a high school coach who went to Georgia and played for Andy Landers, and she did a lot of the same things, but not as a intense or as in-depth. Down here, they go a lot more in depth, like 'This player does this,' and you have to know it on your own and prepare yourself on your own more than you would in high school.

VM: Do you study basketball outside of practices?

HR: Right now I have to. We get a new play in probably every two days. As a matter of fact in sociology class the other day, I was sitting there writing down the plays, and in another class I was actually drawing out the plays and defenses. Jen [Risper] and I are in English class together. Sometimes I'll ask her and see if she can remember. But, yeah, I'm always writing down plays trying to remember. Of course I've come with Cherish to the gym a few times. We'll come in and do some extra shooting and work on footwork and stuff, so yeah, outside of practice you have to do a lot of preparation.

VM: Can you think back to when you first starting thinking, "One day I'll play in college."?

HR: I started playing basketball when I was probably five or six. I played on an AAU team when I was seven. Probably you're old enough to really understand what it means to play in college, when you're ten or eleven and playing AAU in the bigger tournaments and you start watching the older girls. I always wanted to play college basketball, but I started wanting to play in the SEC probably when I got in the seventh or eighth grade and realized that I had enough talent to play on that level.

VM: You're from Tennessee. Did you grow up as a Lady Vols fan?

HR: Actually, I was a Lady Vols a little bit, but not necessarily because I was one of those in-state girls that wanted to go to a school, like Coach Balcomb says, and make that school have a tradition instead of going where there's a tradition already and you have to fit in to what they did instead of building it.

VM: Is your mom a coach?

HR: Yes. Actually my mom played two years after I was born. My mom had three girls. She was at University of Alabama-Huntsville. Then she got pregnant and had me and my sisters, three of us, and then she went back and played two more years at Lee University - after she had three kids. So I've been around basketball my whole life. Then right out of college she started coaching in the Memphis area, and ever since then she's been a coach.

VM: So when you were little you lived in Memphis?

HR: Yes. And then I moved to middle Tennessee and then to east Tennessee. I'm originally from east Tennessee, but we've moved for my mom's coaching jobs.

VM: Has she always been coaching at the high school level?

HR: Yes. My sisters and I are all really close in age, and when we all got in high school, she decided that she didn't want to coach because it was kind of a hard thing, so we moved to a school where she could be the volleyball coach, and she let us get coached by Rachel Powell in high school.

VM: Did you say Rachel Powell? I remember her.

HR: She graduated about 1996. She played for Georgia when they went to the Final Four.

VM: Coming back to the present, you're going on a road trip tomorrow. What have you heard about road trips?

HR: I'm really excited except for the part where they tell us we have freshman duties and have to carry everything. But I'm really excited. I actually packed my bag. I'm going to do laundry tonight and get ready for it.

VM: Has anybody given you any tips on what to take or what not to take?

HR: Well, I'm an over-packer, and they all know that, and they've all told me, "Holly, don't take the kitchen sink!" They give us a lot of tips to all of us freshmen, like "Take this," "Have this on so you don't have to worry about packing it" and this and that, so they've been really good about telling us.

VM: In terms of freshman duties, have you been assigned anything in particular yet, like carrying the tripod?

HR: Not yet. During practice right now, I'm bringing out the balls, but when it comes to traveling, we haven't been told what we're carrying yet.

VM: What are the things you're looking forward to most on this trip?

HR: Well, for one, it's our first big game. Arizona State - they're a really good team, and it's our first really big game early in the season. And then of course road trips always bring your team closer together, so this is going to be another team bonding thing. We get to hang out with the team at the hotel, and practice, and actually seeing Arizona. A lot of us haven't been there, I've driven through, but I've never really been there, so seeing a new place will be neat.

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Holly works on her defense in practice.

Coach Balcomb talks to the team.

Holly and Tina Wirth study their meal choices.

Photos copyright 2005 by WhitneyD for Top Stories