May 20, 2010
Past and present met at last weekend's Washington volleyball alumni dinner. The event, which was organized by former player and current assistant coach Leslie Tuiasosopo, allowed members of the current roster to get to know players from the program's history, and also let many former teammates get back in touch. Many new connections were made between fellow Washington volleyball players, but one alum-player relationship goes far beyond the volleyball court. April Muñoz played volleyball at Washington as April Topham, lettering in 1989-90. Her daughter, Kylin, is finishing her redshirt year for the Huskies and is anxiously awaiting her first action in the fall. They spoke with GoHuskies.com about playing for the same program, staying close to home for their college careers and Kylin's upcoming season.
GoHuskies.com: After watching the Huskies during Kylin's freshman year and seeing this event here, what would you say the biggest differences are from when you played to when your daughter played?
April Munoz: The game has advanced a lot. It's a lot quicker game. With Jim's background of studying the athletes, studying the sports and studying the body mechanics of it, it has developed the program and the sport so much. I'm coaching now and using a lot of his techniques. It's neat to be able to learn from him and I'm honored that Kylin can play for him. He's the best coach in the country.
GH: How nice is it to see your daughter playing volleyball close to home at your alma mater?
AM: I love it. It's fun. Obviously having to redshirt this year has been a challenge, but it's been well worth it and a great experience.
GH: Was it a relief when she chose Washington?
AM: [It's great] to have her close to home. Originally, when she signed with BYU it was sad to think she would be going away. It was really nice [when she came to Washington].
GH: What does it mean for the program to have the alumni dinner on this scale?
AM: It really helps to unify the volleyball community. A lot of the alumni are coaching now and we have kids that are coming up so I think that it helps to unify the community and build it for the future.
GH: What should Husky fans be excited about for Kylin?
AM: I think she's going to be a strong hitter out there. She's going to have the opportunity to bang some balls. It will be fun.
GH: It's getting closer to when you can play competitive volleyball again after the year off. How are excited are you to get back on the court?
KM: I'm so excited. Antsy is a good word to use.
GH: What was the hardest thing about the redshirt year?
KM: The hardest thing was probably not being able to travel. Being on the sidelines and watching your team on television just wishing that you could be there with them. But it's been a good year, it's been a good adjustment because it's freshman year and I've been getting used to academics and juggling that with volleyball.
GH: Has anything changed about you as a player through having only practice to improve on your game?
KM: It's made me realize how the most improvement is in practice. Games are just the outcome of a lot of hard work that you put in during practice.
GH: What's it like to be a part of the same program that your mom played for?
KM: It's really cool. UW is kind of like my home because I've been coming here since I was a baby to watch the games. My first phrase I said was `Go Huskies!' and I had the UW cheerleader outfit. It's my home and it's really nice to be close to my family.
GH: Have you seen any videos or pictures from when your mom played here?
KM: All I remember are pictures, with the buns, the super-long spandex and the 80's hair. There was a clipping of her against UCLA that I remember seeing, but I haven't seen any footage.
GH: If there was an alumni game against the current team, would it get competitive between you two?
KM: Oh yeah! I still have her on the age [laughs].
GH: Your mom said that Husky fans should be really excited about your hitting ability in the fall. What are you excited about for the fall?
KM: I'm just excited for a fresh start. There are no expectations. It's going to be my first time touching the Husky court. I'm excited.
GH: Have you seen your mom use some of Coach McLaughlin's coaching ideas in her coaching?
KM: Yes. The gold medal square is becoming a lot more popular. Because of the success of Washington a lot of clubs are using it too. She's actually my high school coach too, and we used that at my high school. It's nice because girls around here are used to gold medal square so it's a good transition.