April 16, 2010
It's not every season that the Husky volleyball program adds an All-American and All-Pac-10 player between season's end and spring practice, but such is the case this season, as standout middle blocker Amanda Gil is now about a week into her new Washington career.
The former UCLA Bruin led the Pac-10 and ranked second nationally in blocks last season with 180 total blocks and a 1.57 blocks per set average. Gil also led the Bruins with a .360 hitting percentage en route to being named to AVCA All-America Second Team, alongside new Husky teammate Kindra Carlson. A native of San Jose, California, Gil was also the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 2008.
Gil will have two years of eligibility remaining, but will have to redshirt the 2010 season due to NCAA transfer rules. So for now, Gil is focused on learning the Husky system, meshing with her new teammates and coaches, and figuring out how best to help the team every day in practice, since she knows it will be a long wait to get into that first match. She took some time out of her suddenly whirlwind schedule to talk about her new home at Washington.
GoHuskies.com: You must have had a very busy couple of weeks, moving to a new place, starting new classes, and starting spring practice all at the same time. How tough of a transition has it been?
Amanda Gil: Actually it's been pretty easy because the girls have helped me so much. Everyone's been very willing to show me where my classes are, help me get my books, take me to the training room; they've all helped me get into my little routine before practice. So I'm so grateful, because everyone has been very helpful. It's made the transition a lot easier.
GH: What has been the biggest challenge so far?
AG: Changing my style of play. They're breaking me down on every little thing, and I need it but that's probably been the hardest.
GH: That sounds like something that might be hard for All-American level players like yourself to do, since you've obviously had a lot of success doing things a certain way.
AG: It's hard, but with the girls and the coaches, I want to impress them because I am the newest person here. Just seeing how everyone is so intense about their sport, and how they love their sport, just makes me love it even more because I have people around me that love it so much. So it's a good feeling. Even though it's hard and I'm being broken down on every single little thing, everyone's helping me and are around to encourage me to do better and do great.
GH: Have there been any surprises in practice so far in terms of the style?
AG: Probably that everyone does every position, because usually what I've been through in the past, if you're a middle you're just a middle. You're blocking or hitting. You don't pass or dig and maybe just a little serving, but here everyone is doing everything. Jim is really big about making you a whole volleyball player, not just doing what you're assigned to do. So that's great, I love it, because I need to learn everything.
GH: So next year you'll have to redshirt through the season and watch from the sidelines, which you're probably not very used to doing. How do you think you'll handle the long wait?
AG: Iit's definitely going to be tough. I don't know what to expect, because in my mind I have the mentality like, `Okay, fall is coming, let's go let's get it started.' But I'm kind of scared to think about it. I'm a little nervous because I am really competitive and I want to go out and play and I don't like watching. But it's also going to be a great learning experience, and helping the girls out and making them better in practice.
GH: Talk a little more about what you can bring to a practice. Just from watching a few points, it's clear that you bring a real dominant presence at the net. Do you think that challenge can help the hitters on the team?
AG: Truthfully, I haven't (gone against outside hitters like ours) either, so I'm making them better and they're making me better. Everyone on this team goes 100-percent every single play. It's great intensity in the gym, I love being in there and just having that family of everyone together in the gym.
GH: Will that maybe be a tough part about knowing you are redshirting? Trying to bring the same intensity even though you know you won't be getting in a match?
AG: Exactly, and it's hard also because I'm still getting all the little techniques down, so I'm not to my fullest potential yet. So I'm getting frustrated because everyone already knows the footwork and the approach and I'm trying to catch up fast, and I just need to kind of step back and realize I'm redshirting and I don't need to learn all at once, but I'm trying to do it to make the girls better.
GH: Coach McLaughlin is sort of famous around here for his white boards that he covers in numbers and diagrams and messages. Have you started figuring those out yet?
AG: I love it! I really do, because I'm a very visual person, and so is he. He writes everything on the board and it helps me so much, so I actually do love that part! (laughs)
GH: What had you been studying at UCLA and will you continue on with that here at Washington?
AG: I had wanted to do communications but I couldn't do it because of my volleyball schedule, so one reason I came here was to pursue communications and TV broadcasting. I'm getting all my (general requirements) done and then I have to get admitted into communications, and I'll probably be doing internships this summer so I'm really excited.
GH: One other thing that probably is a big change for you is the weather, though things are starting to warm up a bit now.
AG: It's so weird because I was packing all my stuff and it's like sundresses and shorts, and I thought `Dang, I need a new wardrobe.' (laughs) When I first got here it was sunny but then went to rain and I figured out you need to put on layers and then when it gets hot take the layers off, so that will take some getting used to. It's gorgeous here when it's sunny though.
GH: Looking at some personal goals, since there is a long time before your next official match, what are some things you and Coach McLaughlin want to work on with your game?
AG: Definitely my serving. My serving is horrendous and I'm getting better at it but I still have a lot to work on. Since I got here we've had serve and pass every morning where I'm practicing my technique and placing it right, so definitely my serve is a huge factor. Another would be I'm really good hitting in the back behind the setter, but I'm not as efficient in the front, so that's another major goal I'm trying to get down.
GH: Thanks and welcome again to U-Dub!
AG: Thank you!