"Hello there, it's been awhile. Not much, how 'bout you... "
Ok so that really isn't true. If you have followed along with our story, you are aware of this. Here in the "Five Questions" section it has gotten a little quiet. In fact, I really didn't have a direction to go in. I have been blessed to question so many of the National Team members, and those I haven't contacted, well this is a busy time for them. Where would 5?'s go next, or was this unbelievable run over? I wasn't sure. Then, it happened again!
Boldness is what sent that random tweet to Alisha Glass and really ignited this blog. Boldness sent Karch Kiraly questions, and I still am stunned that he answered them! Boldness wrote about the "Ultimate Trust" and it became the most read part of this section. Boldness has served me well!
Facebook has a feature that shows you "people you might know" based largely on people you already have as friends. About a year ago, during the frenzy that accompanied the start of "Five Questions" the name of Daly Santana flashed across my feed, so boldly, I sent her a friend request. Ellen and I are BIG fans of Big 10 volleyball, so we spend lots of time watching matches between some of the best teams in the country, all from the toughest conference. Minnesota has been playing a lot on the Big 10 Network, and Daly Santana is so much fun to watch play! High energy, gifted athletically, and always wearing a smile! We are drawn to players (and people) like Daly!
Last week, Daly accepted my request. It had been so long I really had forgotten. Boldness got the best of me, so I ask her if she would be interested in answering a few questions. She got right back to me, saying she needed me to check with her SID first. I never thought about how careful NCAA athletes have to be. We made sure everything was in order, and with the help of Michelle Traen, we got the ball rolling. I literally sent these questions yesterday, and by tonight, my new Facebook friend Daly Santana had answers for me. Really great, thoughtful answers! So here is Jamming in Five Questions, Daly Santana.
Hometown-Corozal, Puerto Rico
College-University of Minnesota
Your first three years must have seemed to go so quickly! Entering your senior season what goals do you have and what have you really been concentrating on in the "off-season"?
First, Thank you so much for the opportunity Tim! It has definitely been going faster than expected, however I am very excited for this season. I want to give my best and also excited for whatever is coming next for me. I really think my goal this year is to become a better leader and to leave it all in the court day in and day out. I think it would be amazing if I could be a more stable player in terms of stats and I will be working hard on that along with a couple other things. I want to make sure I give 100 percent effort every day and that as a team that keeps being one of our main goals as the season goes on.
You grew up in Corozal, Puerto Rico. Coming from a warm climate and adjusting to the Minnesota winter had to have been difficult! What made U of Minn. your choice for continuing your career and education?
It was hard adapting to the cold, but to be honest, I think it's hard for anyone! However, our volleyball equipment crew makes sure we stay warm and comfortable and so they definitely helped me get through the long winters. Minnesota stood out to me because I loved how people treated each other, not only that but I loved the atmosphere in the team and how it felt like a family away from home. Another big influence in my decision was playing for one of the best coaches in the world without question! I couldn't pass on the opportunity of growing as a player with him as a head coach and an amazing coaching staff. As for the school and education, I loved how there were many choices to pick from and many people who would help me achieve the success I wanted to achieve. Overall a great school filled with great people.
As a senior you will be looked upon to provide leadership for the younger players. Who do you consider your mentor in this regard? What was their best trait?
I think I cannot pick one person as my mentor, but I would say I consider the whole coaching staff as great mentors. Every single one of them. I really admire their honesty, clear and direct communication and their passion for the game and that is something that I wish continues to be in this program for many many years.
When did you know volleyball was "your" sport, and did you play others growing up?
I would say that I knew this was my sport when I refused NOT to go to practice one day when I was about 8. It had been raining the whole day and back then, in my club team, we had courts outside in the open with concrete floors, therefore there was no way no one was practicing. I still cried, apparently, and I still wanted to go and in fact there was nothing I wanted to do more. I had a lot of passion for this sport, a lot more than I did for any other and yes I did play other sports. I probably tried every sport I could when I was younger, but none interested me as much as volleyball nor was I very committed to any but volleyball.
Looking through your bio it's hard not to notice your steady improvement on the stat-line. How do you stay focused on improving and what helps you get out of the occasional slump?
I really have been working on focusing on daily goals. I would say I have been working on it more this past spring because it kind of just hit me that I don't get another chance at this, this is it. I've been working on not thinking too much about the future (season) and to stay focused on what I need to do "today" to make sure that I am as ready as I can be when the day of competition comes. I think when dealing with the occasional "bad days" I focus on doing small tasks leading to having a better day rather than trying to turn the whole thing around. I try to deal with it one step at a time. I also make sure no matter what, I stay aggressive and focused on doing everything I can to win the next point. A nice balance between thinking through whats going on, trying to fix it one step at a time and still playing aggressively and not stepping back is what helps me achieve success in the "slump" days.
I grew up here in Pittsburgh worshiping the Great Roberto Clemente. Can you tell us what Roberto continues to mean to the people of Puerto Rico?
I think Roberto Clemente was and still is an amazing leader. Not only in his sport but as a human being. He gave his best playing baseball and he gave his best to the people. I think that's something greatly admired now and that will be forever. He understood the role he played in people's lives and he embraced it, he did his best to be someone generations of baseball and many other sports after him would follow. His life changed the lives of not only people in Puerto Rico but of all of Latin America and many places in the world by providing and opening the door to many opportunities. Definitely someone to look up to and someone who makes me very proud of who I am and where I come from.