Feb. 24, 2006
Senior Husky Women's Basketball guard Kristen O'Neill recently sat down with gohuskies.com. The Edmonds, Wash., native reflected on her time at Washington and the time that she still has left as a Husky basketball player.
GoHuskies.com: How is it now after your last game in Bank of America, to look back on your experiences here?
Kristen O'Neill: It was a special day. It was a lot of fun. I got there before anyone else and I just kind of sat out in the empty arena. It was good to reflect on my career and to take it all into perspective and really think about it and know that I had one more time to go out there. I was really able to appreciate it.
GH: How was it to have your sister there who had also gone through the same thing?
KO: I had my whole family there and just tons of people from my past that watched me in high school or had become fans while I've been here. It was just neat to see the outpouring of support from the community and the people who wanted to celebrate our team.
GH: Is it hard to know that your five years here are almost over?
KO: It is, and for the first time I don't know exactly what that next step will be. I've been playing since I was five. I always knew I wanted to play in high school and then in high school I knew I wanted to play in college and now I want to play on but I don't really know where that will be exactly. More than anything, I'm just trying to enjoy the last bit of time I have and make the most of it.
GH: Do you have any ideas of what your next step may be?
KO: WNBA is my ultimate goal, that would be a dream come true, but I definitely want to play overseas just to keep playing. I love the game and I want to play as long as I can. Having the injury that I did and having been sidelined for so long made me realize that I'm not quite ready to give it up yet. So I'd like to keep playing as long as my body allows me and kind of see the world a little bit.
GH: So after basketball is completely over, what kind of career do you see yourself pursuing?
KO: In high school I used to do motivational speaking and I really enjoyed it. I'm still interested in that but I also kind of see the possibilities are endless so being in the broad field of communications there are so many things I could do, so I'm not locked in to any one thing.
GH: Would you like to stay in this area?
KO: I'm not really set on staying in this area. My family and a lot of my friends are here but I've lived in Washington my entire life, so maybe I'll get it out of my system when I go and live overseas for a while. Being around my family is important to me, but for the most part I'm not tied down here.
GH: The team is traveling to the Bay Area this weekend, so what is the team's attitude heading down there?
KO: We want to get two wins obviously. Stanford is a great team and it's always a big test whenever we play them. We've beaten them once already but we know that this time they're going to be ready for us. It's going to be very competitive but that's what the post season is all about. It will be high-level basketball and we're just going to try to get two wins in and have fun before going into the Pac-10 tournament.
GH: How do you enjoy coming off the bench? Are you okay with that?
KO: Like I've said before I'm okay with whenever they want to put me in. Coming off the bench is what the coaches want and that's how they feel that I'm best, so I'm fine with it.
GH: You had to come off of an injury yourself after your sophomore season. Can you talk about what you think Jill Bell is going through?
KO: It's definitely hard not being able to do what you want to do because of an injury. I know injuries in general, it just takes a lot of mental focus because you have to be sharp and put in a lot of effort to get things done because your body might not be totally ready.
GH: What are some of your favorite road trips you've ever taken and maybe some of the best places you've played?
KO: I've gotten to see so many great places! Notre Dame has been my favorite place I think. We also got to take a trip to Hawaii a couple years ago which was nice although I wasn't able to play there, so I was just walking around with my boot on which made it really hot. In the Pac-10, I think the Southern Cal trip is always fun because it's a change of scenery and you get to see the sun and go to the beach and all of that. I think going on the road in the Pac-10 is so competitive, so that makes it fun.
GH: What's the hardest venue to play?
KO: In my five years probably the Pit (University of Oregon). Everyone says that, but they've always been on their A-game against us and their home crowd is really behind them whenever we play. It's a hard place to play, but it's also fun because it's a great college atmosphere. The way that their court is the fans are really on top of you.
GH: Have you personally ever been the subject of chants from the crowds of other teams?
KO: From time to time, but for the most part I try to block them out and not listen. I hear some of the comments but I usually try to not pay attention to it.
GH: Which crowd do you think has been the most outspoken?
KO: Oregon State fans are notorious and are usually pretty animated. They don't sit the whole time and it's ongoing throughout the whole game so that's pretty funny. We all tend to laugh about it and then after the game compare notes about what people said.
GH: What has been the most fun, or who has been the funniest since you've been at Washington?
KO: I don't know if I can even say one thing because there's always comedy, my teammates are hilarious! In the training room, or the locker room, someone is always doing something to make me laugh so I think all of those together are what is going to make me look back on this experience and I guess just remember all of the girls and all we've been through together.
GH: If you had to say one person who you'd miss the most, who would you pick?
KO: Well, picking one, that's tough because I'm going to miss everyone in their own way, but obviously Kayla, Nicole and Erica. We've been together through it all and we've been together for the longest amount of time.
GH: What advice would you give to the rest of the team considering they're a pretty young team and will have a lot to learn next year?
KO: I would say that a sense of urgency is important. You can never take anything for granted. I'm hoping that we go to the NCAA tournament this year, but looking back on the last five years I don't see a reason why we shouldn't have gone every year. We could have. We had the talent. We had the potential. So I think looking back on that, knowing we were good enough, and didn't make it doesn't sit so well. I hope that those girls realize the incredible talent and opportunities that they have and really take advantage of it from the beginning of the season, and even in the off-season really work for it. Washington can become the powerhouse and continue to be a strong team on a national level.
GH: The Huskies were picked seventh in the Pac-10 during the preseason poll. What do you have to say about those early prognostications now?
KO: The Pac-10 has been crazy with upsets and ups and downs and anyone can go anywhere as we've seen and win. I think at the beginning it was kind of a slap in the face because we had our whole team returning from last year. But we knew that we didn't perform to what we were capable of last year so we had to prove ourselves, which I think we've done. Other teams have to take us more seriously but our whole conference in general is a very strong conference and there's a lot of talent. I'm happy that we're close to the top right now, but everyone is on everyone else's heels.
GH: Is there a particular team that you'd be excited to play in the NCAA Tournament?
KO: I'd play anyone. I kind of look at it right now as let's just get to the tournament and then we can play anyone we have. Bring them on! Whatever team, even if it's the number one team I want to play them.