Sept. 9, 2012
Freshman setter Katy Beals had her sights set on being a Washington Husky throughout her entire high school career. As she developed into one of the nation's top setter recruits, nothing changed about that goal. The Huskies offered the Austin, Texas native a scholarship and Beals made it official. After wanting to don the purple and gold for years, Beals didn't waste any time getting on the court, as she has played in every match so far this season, rotating with junior Jenni Nogueras in a system that lets the Huskies keep a setter always in the back row and three hitters up front. Last week, Beals got to take a trip back to her home state, as Washington won the Tiger Classic in Houston with her family and former high school teammates looking on.
GoHuskies: How was it getting to play in Houston with your old team in the stands?
Katy Beals: It was really great seeing them. A lot of my friends are still on the team so I was happy that they were able to come. At first it sounded like they were booing cause they were saying "Beeeals."
GH: You're about a month into the season now since practice began, how has the experience compared to what you thought it would be like coming in?
KB: I don't really know what I expected, but it's exceeded all my expectations for sure. I love it so much, especially since we haven't started school yet, just being able to be here and play volleyball 24/7 is awesome. I love all the coaches; every one of my teammates is so supportive. They've helped me transition well.
GH: You've seen a lot of playing time so far, did you have any expectations for playing time going into the year?
KB: No, I just wanted to go in and try and get used to the system, do my best and see what happened. But I was ready to go. It was so awesome going in that first game. Now I'm getting used to the routine and everything.
GH: What has it been like learning the UW system? Have the coaches asked you to make many changes?
KB: I've had to change a lot. Pretty much everything that I learned in club was the opposite of what Jim is telling me now (laughs). So it's taken a while to get used to that and changing my mechanics and stuff, but I can tell that it definitely helps. The feedback constantly after every play helps a lot, too.
GH: How did the recruiting process go for you and when did Washington get into the mix?
KB: Washington was my number one school from the beginning. Everything I did was to get better to try and go here because it was my number one choice. They didn't start looking at me until I think April of my sophomore year. Then I went to camp a couple times. I'd always been dead set, but when I went on my unofficial visit that's when I thought okay I really need to come here. I fell in love with all the coaches and the team and the atmosphere, because we were at the UCLA game and beat them in three sets and the whole crowd was awesome so I was like I have to be here.
GH: Your high school team went 50-0 last year, and was ranked first or second nationally in all the final polls. Do you even remember what a loss feels like?
KB: I hate losing so much, (GH: You just decided not to do it anymore?) Yeah, I just didn't feel like doing it in high school. (laughs) We had nine seniors and eight of the nine were going to play somewhere in college, so we had a really talented team. There were a couple juniors who contributed, too. We'd been together so long that we had a really good chemistry. We only lost one set.
GH: In terms of preparation, how is it different now where every team presents a challenge compared to maybe some matches last year where you knew you'd get the win?
KB: There's definitely a lot you have to focus in on a lot more. Reading the scouting report and making sure you know your job and what you're doing in every rotation. For me I need to work on getting back in defensive stuff. Also I think my eating habits are a lot better than they were. In high school we'd just be killing everyone, so it was like, eh, it doesn't matter, who cares about nutrition? But here our nutritionist and trainers are always on us to eat right and I think that's helped a lot, too.
GH: Talk about the challenges for a new setter trying to learn the needs of all the hitters on the team.
KB: It took me a while in the beginning to get used to it because they all like it a little bit different. Just getting the reps, you start to realize `okay, she likes it higher, she likes it faster and pushed out.' And I think feedback after every play between me and the hitter helps, too, just to know what they want.
GH: Courtney Thompson was here a couple weeks back, did you get to talk with her much or pick up any words of wisdom?
KB: Yeah, that was so awesome, I was so star struck. Looking at the (Olympic) medal and taking a picture with her, wearing it, and I sent it to my dad and he said it was the coolest thing he'd ever seen. She was really cool, just giving us little tidbits to help us out.
GH: Are you living with one of the other freshmen this fall?
KB: Yeah, I'm rooming with Melanie right now. I like her a lot, we both found out that we have the exact same taste in music. I play a song and it's not well-known and she's like, `I know this song!' We went back and forth the same week and we basically have the same library, so I like her a lot and all the freshman a lot.
GH: What are you missing most from Austin?
KB: Probably my friends and my family, and some of my favorite restaurants are barbecue places and stuff. But not the heat, I was so tired of the heat so I'm glad we have the cooler weather here.
GH: Now your father is a Washington State alum?
KB: He is, he's a diehard Coug. So when I saw him with a UW volleyball shirt on I took a picture and was like I'm going to send this to all your Coug friends. He was born in Texas but grew up in Calgary, Canada. He was on the rugby team (at WSU). My parents met in Dallas then lived in Seattle for four years before moving back to Texas. My parents are thinking about moving back to Seattle. They'll know in the next couple weeks, the house is all ready to sell so hopefully it works out.
GH: Classes haven't started yet but do you know what you're taking this fall?
KB: I'm taking chemistry, and a crime scene film class that I'm super excited about. It sounds really interesting.
GH: Thanks for stopping to chat!
KB: No problem!