This summer Risper is at home in California, where she is completing the summer internship required of all HOD majors following their junior year. In her absence, Wirth is the lone senior on campus as the team begins preparation for the upcoming basketball season, including daily workouts with Strength and Conditioning Coach Tasha ("Tash") Weddle.
On Friday afternoon, Whitney D stopped by Memorial Gym to catch up with Tina to hear about her summer, the team, and her plans for the future. Here's what she had to say,
VM: First, tell me about your summer.
Tina: Well, when I left here, I went to Texas with Jen and one of our friends. That was my first stop before I went home, then we went on a cruise together. We left out of Galveston, Texas, then went to Jamaica, then Grand Caymen and then Cozumel, Mexico. It was a week-long cruise, so that was my way to kick off my summer, which was amazing.
Then from there, I went home, and Jen came home with me to Arizona. She was there for about a week, then she went back to California. After a few weeks at home, I went to California, then came back here to Nashville and worked camp wth the rest of the girls, then went back home, then back to California, then back here. So I was making the rounds! (Laughs).
VM: Everybody's on campus now except Jen. Can you talk about how that's going?
Tina: It's going well. We have workouts Monday through Friday at either 6:30 a.m or 7 depending on the day, and then we play pickup a few days a week in the afternoon when everyone's done with class. We have only two freshmen, so we've definitely had bigger classes in the past, so it just doesn't seem as different because it's the same core group back. But it's going good. We're getting strong, and our conditioning's going pretty well. I think Tash is happy. If Tash is happy, we're happy.
VM: Basketball-wise, what have been your personal goals over the course of the off-season in preparation for the upcoming year?
Tina: I'm trying to get a lot quicker. One of our main conditioning tasks is something we call "cones", which are basically like suicides. It's like very short reps, a lot of work in a short amount of time. So I'm really working on that. If I can get faster at that, then I know I'm obviously in good shape. And then, just getting stronger. Even when you're working at home on your own, it's not really the same as when you come back here and get in the weight room with Tash. So I think we're all getting stronger, and me personally, too. I know that we're going to be pretty small in the post, and we're going to have to step up in that area, so I've gotta do my part and bulk up a little, so that's the plan.
VM: The summer before your freshman year, you weren't on campus because you were playing with USA Basketball,. Now that you've seen a couple of groups of freshmen coming in during the summer, can you talk about the advantages, and possibly disadvantages, of having the team together during the summer, especially the incoming freshmen?
Tina: I can't really think of any disadvantages. I think that's something that I missed out on. Not that I would take it back because USA Basketball was an irreplaceable experience, but I definitely knew when I was a freshman -- and I know it even more now -- that I had missed out on something. I was in great basketball shape, but I hadn't run or done workouts or lifted in months, so when I came here, it was like, I can play pickup, but I can't do this other stuff. I was in bad shape in terms of that stuff.
And then there's the whole dynamic of getting to know the team, because even though we're busy during the summer, it's a completely different thing. You have one or maybe two classes if you're a freshman, and a lot more time to just kind of hang out. So the advantages, the team chemistry issue, are great.
And in the summer, you really get to focus on getting in shape. You can work on basketball skills on your own time, but in terms of getting stronger, this is where it happens, so there are definite advantages to being here.
I think that, too, it's kind of like a trial period for the freshmen. They come for a month, and they know it's a month. Some of them love it and can't wait to come back for school, but some of them have a tougher time, but they know, okay I got to test it out, now I've got to go home and then come back again knowing what I'm getting myself into.
VM: You're starting your senior season. Can you talk about that?
Tina: It doesn't really feel like it. I definitely know that it is, but I guess I don't feel like I'm that old. But it's different, I guess. Nothing's really new any more. I know what to expect from workouts. I'm the one who kind of coordinates everything in terms of pickup and all that. In that way I guess I have more responsibility. And there are certain things, like if we run cones, I'm like, "Y'know, I only have a limited number of times that I'm going to do this in my life. " I probably won't run cones in my life after I graduate. (Laughs). There are some things like that, when I kind of think, "This is the last time, this is my last summer". Things like that hit home for me a little bit, but even so, I don't think it will really hit me till a little bit later.
But I'm just trying to have fun. I don't really want to think about everything that happens, every milestone, like, "Ah, I'm never going to do that again." I just want to enjoy it, which I am, and I'm excited.
VM: You've got a full season of basketball at Vanderbilt left, but have you started to think about the future, what comes after your eligibility is over?
Tina: I'm starting nursing school in the fall, so as a profession that's what I'm thinking about. My specialty right now is pediatrics, and I think I'd really like to work in a children's hospital down the road somewhere.
But I think that there's a good possibility that I'll try to keep playing after college. The WNBA - I have no idea. You just wait and see what kind of opportunities come up there, but I would love to play overseas, probably even moreso than the WNBA. That's kind of where my passion is right now, just because I love traveling and the whole experience of living in another country while you're single and not tied down with a real career, anything like that. I would love to take advantage of those kinds of opportunities.
Cruise photos courtesy of Tina Wirth; other photos copyright 2008 by Whitney D for VandyMania.com