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#OneTeam – Daniel Koech
 
Q: Where are you from?
A: “I come from Eldoret, Kenya. It’s probably the best town for athletes. We have the 800-meter world record holder from the 2012 Olympics, David Rudisha; he’s from my hometown and Ezekiel Kemboi, the Olympic gold medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.”
 
Q: Why is Eldoret, Kenya such an important city in the sport of running?
A: “The altitude is there is really high and people don’t use vehicles to get around. When you go to school you have to run. You go in the morning, come back for lunch and go back to school in the evening. It’s basically training, but you don’t know that you’re training.”
 
Q: So you ran back and forth every day from your house to your school and back? How far was that?
A: “They’re probably two miles apart, and I’d come home for lunch, too. All together it was about eight miles a day – but you don’t know that you’re training.”
 
Q: What age did you start running to school on your own?
A: “I grew up in a boarding school so I didn’t go to day-school every day, so my upbringing was different. When I was in grade school I wasn’t involved in sports and didn’t get involved until high school. But, I used to play basketball since I’m a city boy. When I got to high school I played basketball for four years and my senior year I ran the 800-meter and ended up running it in 1:53.”
 
Q: Did you plan to be a runner and come to America?
A: “Initially, I didn’t ever want to move out of Kenya but my senior year, when I ran a 1:53, my dad was surprised that I could run that fast and he said that I could get out of here. I told him that I hadn’t run since my freshman year and that I didn’t want to run. We were practicing basketball so I was in shape. My senior year of high school my dad said that I needed to start running, but I didn’t do anything with it. So my dad said that he was trying to get me into school, and that if I wanted to get into a school abroad that I had to run. That seemed like a pretty good idea.”
 
Q: When did you decide to really commit yourself to running?
A:” I didn’t do anything in high school after running the 1:53. I didn’t like running because everyone does it and I didn’t want to do something that everyone was doing. So I continued to play basketball and my dad asked me if basketball would get me into an American college. I said, ‘Yes.’ But based off of what I knew about American basketball, I knew that I didn’t want to play basketball in America. So in March of 2012, my dad and I were arguing and my dad said that if I could run so fast why wouldn’t I pick that? My dad asked me what I wanted to do and I said that I wanted to go to college and he said that he wanted me to go to college too, but he wanted me to go abroad. I asked him what I should do and he said that I should run and I started running. So I did, and I ended up in Kansas.” 
 
Q: So you liked basketball because it was something different, not everyone was doing it?
A: “I had an interest in basketball, but in Kenya it is a rich-people sport and a flashy game. My neighbors had a miniature basketball goal so we always would play there and it was more fun to play basketball than to run. Basketball is considered a rich people sport because (in order) to play you have to buy a rim and have a court. To run, you can do that anywhere, nobody is going to ask you for money to run unless you need to buy shoes.”
 
Q: When did you move to boarding school? Is that common where you are from?
A: “I was 12. No, my parents wanted me to succeed in academics, not just athletically, so they sent me to boarding school so that I could spend more time studying to get good grades. I changed in some ways. I knew that I wanted to be self-dependent and disciplined. In boarding school you just do your homework with no teachers and live on your own without your family. When I went to high school I was put with students who had come from the day-school and were coping with different things like no mom or dad around.”
 
Q: You moved to a boarding school at 12 years old and really haven’t lived at home since. Is it crazy to know that most Americans live at home until they are 18?
A: “Yes, but I think it’s a good thing (to leave home early). Sometimes you have to get out on your own and be yourself. I think my parents wanted me to learn that so that when I got here I could focus on academics and succeed. I had no trouble. I may get homesick and miss my parents, but they got me a laptop so that I can Skype with them.”
 
Q: Was it rare for other kids in your area to go to private school? Are public schools not considered good there?
A: “It cost a lot of money to go to boarding school so most of the kids didn’t go to boarding school until high school. Yes (the public schools aren’t very good), but I don’t say that in a bad way, though. We have free education in grade school but the area is so populated with very few teachers, so it’s difficult.”
 
Q: Everyone always says that Kenya has the best runners, is that true because everyone there runs?
A: “A lot of people exercise in the streets here in Kansas, but in Kenya that is not necessarily true. You won’t see people working out in the streets of Kenya like you see here.”
 
Q: How do you feel about ending up at a school where basketball is such a huge deal? Do you like it?
A: “Yes, when I met Coach Redwine on Dec. 8 (2012), we went to a track near my hometown and he asked me to run a 200, 400 and an 800. I didn’t know that he was coming, but one of my friends knew him and told me that they could see if he could come this way. I had taken my SAT and I had a passport, but I didn’t know what to do next – that is when Coach Redwine came. I ran the 200, 400 and 800 for him. He emailed me three days later telling me that I was accepted (to attend the University of Kansas and become a student-athlete there).” 

#OneTeam – Daniel Koech

 

Q: Where are you from?

A: “I come from Eldoret, Kenya. It’s probably the best town for athletes. We have the 800-meter world record holder from the 2012 Olympics, David Rudisha; he’s from my hometown and Ezekiel Kemboi, the Olympic gold medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.”

 

Q: Why is Eldoret, Kenya such an important city in the sport of running?

A: “The altitude is there is really high and people don’t use vehicles to get around. When you go to school you have to run. You go in the morning, come back for lunch and go back to school in the evening. It’s basically training, but you don’t know that you’re training.”

 

Q: So you ran back and forth every day from your house to your school and back? How far was that?

A: “They’re probably two miles apart, and I’d come home for lunch, too. All together it was about eight miles a day – but you don’t know that you’re training.

 

Q: What age did you start running to school on your own?

A: “I grew up in a boarding school so I didn’t go to day-school every day, so my upbringing was different. When I was in grade school I wasn’t involved in sports and didn’t get involved until high school. But, I used to play basketball since I’m a city boy. When I got to high school I played basketball for four years and my senior year I ran the 800-meter and ended up running it in 1:53.”

 

Q: Did you plan to be a runner and come to America?

A: “Initially, I didn’t ever want to move out of Kenya but my senior year, when I ran a 1:53, my dad was surprised that I could run that fast and he said that I could get out of here. I told him that I hadn’t run since my freshman year and that I didn’t want to run. We were practicing basketball so I was in shape. My senior year of high school my dad said that I needed to start running, but I didn’t do anything with it. So my dad said that he was trying to get me into school, and that if I wanted to get into a school abroad that I had to run. That seemed like a pretty good idea.”

 

Q: When did you decide to really commit yourself to running?

A:” I didn’t do anything in high school after running the 1:53. I didn’t like running because everyone does it and I didn’t want to do something that everyone was doing. So I continued to play basketball and my dad asked me if basketball would get me into an American college. I said, ‘Yes.’ But based off of what I knew about American basketball, I knew that I didn’t want to play basketball in America. So in March of 2012, my dad and I were arguing and my dad said that if I could run so fast why wouldn’t I pick that? My dad asked me what I wanted to do and I said that I wanted to go to college and he said that he wanted me to go to college too, but he wanted me to go abroad. I asked him what I should do and he said that I should run and I started running. So I did, and I ended up in Kansas.”

 

Q: So you liked basketball because it was something different, not everyone was doing it?

A: “I had an interest in basketball, but in Kenya it is a rich-people sport and a flashy game. My neighbors had a miniature basketball goal so we always would play there and it was more fun to play basketball than to run. Basketball is considered a rich people sport because (in order) to play you have to buy a rim and have a court. To run, you can do that anywhere, nobody is going to ask you for money to run unless you need to buy shoes.”

 

Q: When did you move to boarding school? Is that common where you are from?

A: “I was 12. No, my parents wanted me to succeed in academics, not just athletically, so they sent me to boarding school so that I could spend more time studying to get good grades. I changed in some ways. I knew that I wanted to be self-dependent and disciplined. In boarding school you just do your homework with no teachers and live on your own without your family. When I went to high school I was put with students who had come from the day-school and were coping with different things like no mom or dad around.”

 

Q: You moved to a boarding school at 12 years old and really haven’t lived at home since. Is it crazy to know that most Americans live at home until they are 18?

A: “Yes, but I think it’s a good thing (to leave home early). Sometimes you have to get out on your own and be yourself. I think my parents wanted me to learn that so that when I got here I could focus on academics and succeed. I had no trouble. I may get homesick and miss my parents, but they got me a laptop so that I can Skype with them.”

 

Q: Was it rare for other kids in your area to go to private school? Are public schools not considered good there?

A: “It cost a lot of money to go to boarding school so most of the kids didn’t go to boarding school until high school. Yes (the public schools aren’t very good), but I don’t say that in a bad way, though. We have free education in grade school but the area is so populated with very few teachers, so it’s difficult.”

 

Q: Everyone always says that Kenya has the best runners, is that true because everyone there runs?

A: “A lot of people exercise in the streets here in Kansas, but in Kenya that is not necessarily true. You won’t see people working out in the streets of Kenya like you see here.

 

Q: How do you feel about ending up at a school where basketball is such a huge deal? Do you like it?

A: “Yes, when I met Coach Redwine on Dec. 8 (2012), we went to a track near my hometown and he asked me to run a 200, 400 and an 800. I didn’t know that he was coming, but one of my friends knew him and told me that they could see if he could come this way. I had taken my SAT and I had a passport, but I didn’t know what to do next – that is when Coach Redwine came. I ran the 200, 400 and 800 for him. He emailed me three days later telling me that I was accepted (to attend the University of Kansas and become a student-athlete there).” 

#OneTeam – Yupaporn “Mook” Kawinpakorn
 
Q: How did you get your nickname?
A: “Normally for Thai people, we have first and last names just like Americans. But our names are usually pretty long, so we come up with nicknames pretty randomly. They could be anything. ‘Mook’ in Thailand means pearls.”
 
Q: What is the most significant part of the Thai culture?
A: “I would say religion. Buddhism. We are taught to love our parents and respect them. We never talk back to them or think anything bad of them. They gave you life, you’re supposed to love them. Almost more than your own life. We have a very good culture. In Thailand, we’re very conservative about things. We dress in a certain way. We respect people that are older than us. We can’t just call them by their name. You have to say ‘Sister’ or ‘Aunt’ to precede it if you are younger than the person you’re speaking to. Otherwise, it is very rude.”
 
Q: Did you notice that custom being much different in America?
A: “The first thing that I noticed is that my teammates would call our coach ‘Erin.’ I can’t do that. I have to say Coach Erin, Coach O’Neil or just Coach. If Coach gives me something, you have to (makes traditional bowing of thanks motion). It’s a sign of respect.”
 
Q: Did your family have big expectations for you coming over here?
A: “It was the other way around. I remember the first time I told my dad I wanted to come here and get an education, he didn’t agree with me. He didn’t want me to come here in the first place because he wanted me to play professionally in Thailand. I just told him how important it was to me to come here and get educated and be able to learn about new things. I told him that if I turn pro right now, then that’s it. My glass is empty. I feel that there is so much more that I need to learn in my life, it’s not just golf. What if I get into an accident and I can’t play golf anymore? What am I going to do? Am I going to stay with you my whole life, or do you want me to become successful one day? I told him that and I won.”
 
Q: Was it hard to go against your dad?
A: “Yes. At first I was really scared because my dad is very strict and he talks loud. But I’ve got to fight for my life so I got myself together and talked to him. Finally he saw what I thought and he agreed. And my mom helped me a little bit because when my mom talks to him he listens more.”
 
Q: Has your father been over here?
A: “No, neither of my parents have traveled with me before. I was raised to be independent. My dad would just drop me off at golf the course.”
 
Q: How many times have your parents seen you play in competitions?
A: “When I was younger he would go with me, but not a lot. After I turned 15, I went alone. My parents cannot speak English at all. I would love for them to come when I graduate, but at the same time, I’m afraid that they would get lost. They get on a plane and they cannot read (English), they cannot communicate (in English) – that’s going to be hard for them. But I think I am going to find a way to bring them here. I want them to see how successful I am here. I just want them to be proud of me for what I do.”
 
 
Q: Was it difficult to adjust to a different culture in America?
A: “People here are nice. There is one thing that was really different. In Thailand if I don’t know you, I won’t just walk up to you and say ‘Hi, how are you today?’ We don’t make random conversation. If I don’t know you, I don’t talk to you. Here, people always stop and say hi. It’s really nice.”
 
Q: Having Chinese grandparents, do you have problems with people not being able to tell that you’re Thai?
A: “People tell me a lot that I don’t really look like Thai people. I look more Pilipino. That’s ok. As long as it’s Asian, I’m fine.”
 
Q: Does your schedule as a student-athlete conflict with your religious obligations?
A: “My family isn’t very religious. If we want to go to temple, we just go and pray a little bit. But it’s not like a certain day, like Sunday, or anything.”
 
Q: Is there a temple in Lawrence?
A: “There isn’t one, but we can pray anywhere. I have a little – similar to what Americans call a Bible – and I just read out of it.”
 
Q: Did you know English before you came here?
A: “Just a little bit. Before I came here I went to international school. It cost a lot; my dad was able to afford only a few years and then I had to drop out and go to private school that’s not that expensive, but it was still different.”
 
Q: Were you really small when you started golfing?
A: “I was 10. I was a big girl for my age from 10 to 12, and then I just stopped growing.”
 
Q: How was playing golf in Thailand?
A: “We don’t have country clubs; your parents pay for everything. We have a lot of beautiful golf courses. We have a very big community of golfers.”
 
Q: Do you see yourself as a leader?
A: “No! Though my scores help the team very often I still don’t see myself as the leader. I’m just an ordinary person on the team.” 

#OneTeam – Yupaporn “Mook” Kawinpakorn

 

Q: How did you get your nickname?

A: “Normally for Thai people, we have first and last names just like Americans. But our names are usually pretty long, so we come up with nicknames pretty randomly. They could be anything. ‘Mook’ in Thailand means pearls.”

 

Q: What is the most significant part of the Thai culture?

A: “I would say religion. Buddhism. We are taught to love our parents and respect them. We never talk back to them or think anything bad of them. They gave you life, you’re supposed to love them. Almost more than your own life. We have a very good culture. In Thailand, we’re very conservative about things. We dress in a certain way. We respect people that are older than us. We can’t just call them by their name. You have to say ‘Sister’ or ‘Aunt’ to precede it if you are younger than the person you’re speaking to. Otherwise, it is very rude.”

 

Q: Did you notice that custom being much different in America?

A: “The first thing that I noticed is that my teammates would call our coach ‘Erin.’ I can’t do that. I have to say Coach Erin, Coach O’Neil or just Coach. If Coach gives me something, you have to (makes traditional bowing of thanks motion). It’s a sign of respect.”

 

Q: Did your family have big expectations for you coming over here?

A: “It was the other way around. I remember the first time I told my dad I wanted to come here and get an education, he didn’t agree with me. He didn’t want me to come here in the first place because he wanted me to play professionally in Thailand. I just told him how important it was to me to come here and get educated and be able to learn about new things. I told him that if I turn pro right now, then that’s it. My glass is empty. I feel that there is so much more that I need to learn in my life, it’s not just golf. What if I get into an accident and I can’t play golf anymore? What am I going to do? Am I going to stay with you my whole life, or do you want me to become successful one day? I told him that and I won.”

 

Q: Was it hard to go against your dad?

A: “Yes. At first I was really scared because my dad is very strict and he talks loud. But I’ve got to fight for my life so I got myself together and talked to him. Finally he saw what I thought and he agreed. And my mom helped me a little bit because when my mom talks to him he listens more.”

 

Q: Has your father been over here?

A: “No, neither of my parents have traveled with me before. I was raised to be independent. My dad would just drop me off at golf the course.”

 

Q: How many times have your parents seen you play in competitions?

A: “When I was younger he would go with me, but not a lot. After I turned 15, I went alone. My parents cannot speak English at all. I would love for them to come when I graduate, but at the same time, I’m afraid that they would get lost. They get on a plane and they cannot read (English), they cannot communicate (in English) – that’s going to be hard for them. But I think I am going to find a way to bring them here. I want them to see how successful I am here. I just want them to be proud of me for what I do.”

 

 

Q: Was it difficult to adjust to a different culture in America?

A: “People here are nice. There is one thing that was really different. In Thailand if I don’t know you, I won’t just walk up to you and say ‘Hi, how are you today?’ We don’t make random conversation. If I don’t know you, I don’t talk to you. Here, people always stop and say hi. It’s really nice.”

 

Q: Having Chinese grandparents, do you have problems with people not being able to tell that you’re Thai?

A: “People tell me a lot that I don’t really look like Thai people. I look more Pilipino. That’s ok. As long as it’s Asian, I’m fine.”

 

Q: Does your schedule as a student-athlete conflict with your religious obligations?

A: “My family isn’t very religious. If we want to go to temple, we just go and pray a little bit. But it’s not like a certain day, like Sunday, or anything.”

 

Q: Is there a temple in Lawrence?

A: “There isn’t one, but we can pray anywhere. I have a little – similar to what Americans call a Bible – and I just read out of it.”

 

Q: Did you know English before you came here?

A: “Just a little bit. Before I came here I went to international school. It cost a lot; my dad was able to afford only a few years and then I had to drop out and go to private school that’s not that expensive, but it was still different.”

 

Q: Were you really small when you started golfing?

A: “I was 10. I was a big girl for my age from 10 to 12, and then I just stopped growing.”

 

Q: How was playing golf in Thailand?

A: “We don’t have country clubs; your parents pay for everything. We have a lot of beautiful golf courses. We have a very big community of golfers.”

 

Q: Do you see yourself as a leader?

A: “No! Though my scores help the team very often I still don’t see myself as the leader. I’m just an ordinary person on the team.” 

#OneTeam – Angie Flores-Rodriguez
Q: You started rowing at 11 years old. Is rowing a common sport for young kids in Mexico?
A: “In America, when you start rowing, you jump right into racing 5K races in the fall and then the normal 2K races in the spring because you are much older when you start rowing. In Mexico, most kids start rowing around eight or nine years old. Anyone littler than that is generally too small. You start between eight and nine and only race about 500 meters. Then from 11-13, you start racing 1,000 meters, then from 13-15 years old you move up to 1,500. So you don’t start racing 2,000 meters until 15.”
Q: Is rowing more popular there?
A “Well we only have about five states there that have rowing, out of 32, so it’s not that popular everywhere. I live about 30 minutes away from Monterrey in a little town right by a lake, so that’s where I started rowing. My mom would come pick me up and then I’d have 30 minutes to do homework, eat, sleep or whatever I could fit in during the car ride because I knew practice would be long once I got to the lake. So my mom would drop me off at practice and our coach would drop us off at home.”
Q: Did you play other sports growing up?
A: “I started playing basketball when I was in sixth grade, and probably four months into the year, I started getting really bad migraines. They discovered that I had a tumor in my brain. So I went to the hospital and they told me that I should avoid contact sports.”
Q: Wait, so you’re playing basketball, start getting bad headaches and suddenly you have a brain tumor?
A: “Yeah exactly, so I just went to the hospital and they told me that if I could avoid contact sports that would be great. For like a year-and-a-half period while my surgery was healing. It wasn’t a cancerous tumor, but it was like golf-ball size. That’s what was causing the headaches.”
Q: How long did it keep you away from rowing?
A: “It kept me away for like three to four months, and then you need to restart. My doctors and my parents didn’t want me to go alone. They didn’t want me to be on a boat in case the boat flipped. But they were really scared that maybe I wouldn’t float or maybe I wouldn’t be able to get my feet out of the boat.”
Q: Were you scared - or was it everybody else who was scared - about you getting back into it?
A: “Everybody else was scared. I didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal. I told everyone that I didn’t feel bad anymore so I’m good to go. But nobody would listen to that. So, I had to restart and I was learning again. Not because I didn’t know what it was it was, but just for safety. So I started from the bottom again. A year, year-and-a-half, later that’s when I started my stuff again and that’s when I won (my gold medals). I think it was pretty cool.”
Q: When did you start having headaches? How long of a time was it between when you started having the headaches and when you had the surgery?
A: “I had a week. It started with really little headaches where I would take aspirin or something. Then it started getting worse and worse, but it wasn’t just a three-hour thing. They would last all day. Then my mom’s friend is a doctor so we went to him and he said, ‘I’m not a specialist for headaches, but I can tell if she keeps getting migraines and goes away and nothing bad happens that means she had migraines. But if she starts throwing up or having a seizure that’s an emergency because it could be something else.’”
Q: How long before they figured out there was a tumor in there?
A: “I started having headaches the week before Thanksgiving break, so the 27th right away I had a really bad headache in the morning. It was awful. I didn’t even want to open my eyes. I didn’t eat anything, my family left me home and went to the store. I just started throwing up so I called my mom and told her, ‘It happened. I am throwing up. You need to take me to the ER.’ So she drove back and took me to the city. We got to the hospital around 11 a.m. And they found it out at six in the evening.” 
Q: It’s funny how you say that just nonchalant like, “Yeah, I just had a brain surgery.”
A: “Yeah like no one believes me. They’re like ‘No you don’t.’ It doesn’t mean that I paralyzed my body or I’m not functioning all the way. I function perfectly. I just had them remove it, that’s it. It wasn’t a huge deal.”
Q: Was it really hard at only 12 years old to be patient while you recovered?
A: “It was really frustrating. My mom would say, ‘No you are not ready yet.’ The doctor said, ‘It’s not healing. You have to wait all the way until next month.’ I told them I would wear a life vest. ‘No it’s not enough,’ my mom would say back. It was really frustrating because I saw all my other friends getting ready for all the races and being excited for traveling. We had such a great time and we watched movies on the bus. I kept thinking ‘When is it my turn? I can go. I don’t care about oars around my head.’ But they said no, I needed to wait.”
Q: So when you finally got the OK to be back in the boat by yourself, did it give you new appreciation like, “Oh I missed this?” 
A: “Yeah it was really frustrating because even when I wanted to be like ‘Ok, I’m ready to go.’ They kept saying no, you need to wait. It’s not healing. So when I got to the point where I was able to compete, able to do my regular rowing by myself, it was relieving to be competing and sitting with other kids.”

#OneTeam – Angie Flores-Rodriguez

Q: You started rowing at 11 years old. Is rowing a common sport for young kids in Mexico?

A: “In America, when you start rowing, you jump right into racing 5K races in the fall and then the normal 2K races in the spring because you are much older when you start rowing. In Mexico, most kids start rowing around eight or nine years old. Anyone littler than that is generally too small. You start between eight and nine and only race about 500 meters. Then from 11-13, you start racing 1,000 meters, then from 13-15 years old you move up to 1,500. So you don’t start racing 2,000 meters until 15.”

Q: Is rowing more popular there?

A “Well we only have about five states there that have rowing, out of 32, so it’s not that popular everywhere. I live about 30 minutes away from Monterrey in a little town right by a lake, so that’s where I started rowing. My mom would come pick me up and then I’d have 30 minutes to do homework, eat, sleep or whatever I could fit in during the car ride because I knew practice would be long once I got to the lake. So my mom would drop me off at practice and our coach would drop us off at home.”

Q: Did you play other sports growing up?

A: “I started playing basketball when I was in sixth grade, and probably four months into the year, I started getting really bad migraines. They discovered that I had a tumor in my brain. So I went to the hospital and they told me that I should avoid contact sports.”

Q: Wait, so you’re playing basketball, start getting bad headaches and suddenly you have a brain tumor?

A: “Yeah exactly, so I just went to the hospital and they told me that if I could avoid contact sports that would be great. For like a year-and-a-half period while my surgery was healing. It wasn’t a cancerous tumor, but it was like golf-ball size. That’s what was causing the headaches.”

Q: How long did it keep you away from rowing?

A: “It kept me away for like three to four months, and then you need to restart. My doctors and my parents didn’t want me to go alone. They didn’t want me to be on a boat in case the boat flipped. But they were really scared that maybe I wouldn’t float or maybe I wouldn’t be able to get my feet out of the boat.”

Q: Were you scared - or was it everybody else who was scared - about you getting back into it?

A: “Everybody else was scared. I didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal. I told everyone that I didn’t feel bad anymore so I’m good to go. But nobody would listen to that. So, I had to restart and I was learning again. Not because I didn’t know what it was it was, but just for safety. So I started from the bottom again. A year, year-and-a-half, later that’s when I started my stuff again and that’s when I won (my gold medals). I think it was pretty cool.”

Q: When did you start having headaches? How long of a time was it between when you started having the headaches and when you had the surgery?

A: “I had a week. It started with really little headaches where I would take aspirin or something. Then it started getting worse and worse, but it wasn’t just a three-hour thing. They would last all day. Then my mom’s friend is a doctor so we went to him and he said, ‘I’m not a specialist for headaches, but I can tell if she keeps getting migraines and goes away and nothing bad happens that means she had migraines. But if she starts throwing up or having a seizure that’s an emergency because it could be something else.’”

Q: How long before they figured out there was a tumor in there?

A: “I started having headaches the week before Thanksgiving break, so the 27th right away I had a really bad headache in the morning. It was awful. I didn’t even want to open my eyes. I didn’t eat anything, my family left me home and went to the store. I just started throwing up so I called my mom and told her, ‘It happened. I am throwing up. You need to take me to the ER.’ So she drove back and took me to the city. We got to the hospital around 11 a.m. And they found it out at six in the evening.”

Q: It’s funny how you say that just nonchalant like, “Yeah, I just had a brain surgery.”

A: “Yeah like no one believes me. They’re like ‘No you don’t.’ It doesn’t mean that I paralyzed my body or I’m not functioning all the way. I function perfectly. I just had them remove it, that’s it. It wasn’t a huge deal.”

Q: Was it really hard at only 12 years old to be patient while you recovered?

A: “It was really frustrating. My mom would say, ‘No you are not ready yet.’ The doctor said, ‘It’s not healing. You have to wait all the way until next month.’ I told them I would wear a life vest. ‘No it’s not enough,’ my mom would say back. It was really frustrating because I saw all my other friends getting ready for all the races and being excited for traveling. We had such a great time and we watched movies on the bus. I kept thinking ‘When is it my turn? I can go. I don’t care about oars around my head.’ But they said no, I needed to wait.”

Q: So when you finally got the OK to be back in the boat by yourself, did it give you new appreciation like, “Oh I missed this?” 

A: “Yeah it was really frustrating because even when I wanted to be like ‘Ok, I’m ready to go.’ They kept saying no, you need to wait. It’s not healing. So when I got to the point where I was able to compete, able to do my regular rowing by myself, it was relieving to be competing and sitting with other kids.”

#OneTeam - Tiana Dockery 
 
Q: Do you ever get the feeling that you’re breaking stereotypes?
A: “I was in seventh grade, I had never played volleyball before and I was the only black girl that was on the team. Next year, no one came back but me. I had racist remarks and the normal stuff against me. I never thought there was an issue with me being on the team. From then on I literally just said, I’m black, so what?”
Q: Has it ever been about race to you?
“I get that it’s a predominantly white-woman sport, but I just never thought of it that way. I just play on the team. If you treat me bad, cool. If you don’t, that’s cool, too. Now I come to college - and from seventh grade to now – you see more black female athletes playing volleyball. Then you have the stereotype that black people they jump higher, they hit harder and they do all of this other stuff. That’s not right, at all! Everyone jumps high, everyone hits hard.”
Q: Have you seen huge strides made in volleyball – or just sports in general?
“It’s interesting to see how different and diverse volleyball is. It shows how anyone can pretty much play. It’s not a one race sport, it’s everyone. If you don’t look at race, and look at skill, it’s all the same. So I never really thought about anything like that. I just play volleyball. I’m passionate about it just like everyone else. But from that time in seventh grade I just never let it bother me because I had other things I had to deal with. I don’t think it was worth my time to listen to or pay attention to. Now I think it’s great in general, how diverse sports have gotten from way back, to now. You see different things. It’s wonderful.”
Q: Do you still have to deal with racist remarks even now?
A: “People joke about certain things, but (they should) think about what they’re saying. It’s funny now, but really think about what you’re saying when you do say it. Now it doesn’t faze me anymore. Everyone plays off everything.  It’s based on how good you are, not about what race you are or anything like that. That’s just how I’ve always thought of it.”
Q: Where did you get your strong outlook on life?
A: “My mom went through the same thing. She lived in New Mexico on the reservation, and she’s part black, too. My grandmother still lives on the reservation. The people on the reservation, or the people she went to school with, would not look at her the same. They would treat her differently because she’s black or Navajo Indian. She went through all of that before, so when I brought it up to her and said some stuff about it she told me how to deal with it. I never came home and cried about it or got angry. I just thought it was stupid.  I wanted to have fun and play volleyball. It was good at that age, dealing with everything. Everything comes at you at once sometimes, but I overcame it. This is where I am now.” 
Q: I know that you’re really close with your mom and sister, but with your parents divorcing in fifth grade it had to be hard. What was growing up like?
A: “Growing up was different. I decided to move in with my mom and move to a different place, go to a different school, and it was hard at first because I was so young. I had no idea what was going on. I had my little sister, too, and I tried to not make her worry too much about what was going on. Seeing other girls with their whole family and talking about their whole families, and then I go back home and it’s only me and my mom and my sister. That’s hard. But I got over that little part of it and realized it’s not my fault that they’re not together. Then it’s just me, my mom, and my sister. Let’s move forward.” 
Q: So you’re 10 and trying to look after your little sister. Do you feel like you had to grow up really fast?
A: “Yeah, growing up in general, my mom worked and my dad played football. My mom worked probably an hour away from where we lived. So I was always home alone with my sister. I had to grow up as soon as I could walk to school myself and to take care of her when my parents weren’t there, pretty much. Football schedules are always so different. Traveling, or going wherever and then my mom would leave at 6:30-7 in the morning and wouldn’t get back until 7 or 8 at night. I feel like that has been a part of me being as mature as I am right now because I had to do it at such a young age. We had babysitters, friends that lived next door to take care of us, but it wasn’t the same. I still had to go back to my house and do it myself. I woke up in the morning by myself, did my hair myself, dressed myself, I had to learn everything pretty much on my own. Go to school, walk back home and just wait.”
Q: Do you think growing up in that setting made you a stronger person?
A: “Now it’s normal. It’s just me my mom and my sister. That’s our family. Growing up was different than the kids I hung out with and it was hard, but I got used to it. Some kids get embarrassed by it, but I never felt that way because it happens, you can’t really do anything about it. I might as well embrace it now. All because of how much my mom did for us from the beginning. Like moving from New Mexico, where she lived all of her life, to Houston. She knew nothing, she didn’t have much money and she didn’t have a job. It went from her not having that much to seeing her work so hard to get where she is now – and to see where she has gotten us now. I don’t get angry about how we grew up, I’m happy we grew up that way. Now we’re so much more appreciative of what we have now because we didn’t have it before.”
Q: Do you ever look back and are amazed at how far you’ve come?
A: “It makes me happy to see my mom happy. Especially because she’s worked so hard to get there. It is funny to talk about sometimes because we had nothing. We had absolutely nothing and came so far. No matter what, my mom always made sure she could get something for us. She always made it happen. Even now with these trips. Club volleyball is like $3,000 dollars, and that’s not including the hotels, trip, and everything. She’s always like ‘I don’t know if we have enough money for this but we’ll get you there!’ And it always happens. She always got us there, we always got what we needed. And she was always okay. That always makes me happy, especially because she had that thought process even when she didn’t have anything. She always knew she was going to be okay. That makes me excited for my own future. I know it’s going to be okay because I’ve watched her do it.”

#OneTeam - Tiana Dockery

 

Q: Do you ever get the feeling that you’re breaking stereotypes?

A: “I was in seventh grade, I had never played volleyball before and I was the only black girl that was on the team. Next year, no one came back but me. I had racist remarks and the normal stuff against me. I never thought there was an issue with me being on the team. From then on I literally just said, I’m black, so what?”

Q: Has it ever been about race to you?

“I get that it’s a predominantly white-woman sport, but I just never thought of it that way. I just play on the team. If you treat me bad, cool. If you don’t, that’s cool, too. Now I come to college - and from seventh grade to now – you see more black female athletes playing volleyball. Then you have the stereotype that black people they jump higher, they hit harder and they do all of this other stuff. That’s not right, at all! Everyone jumps high, everyone hits hard.

Q: Have you seen huge strides made in volleyball – or just sports in general?

“It’s interesting to see how different and diverse volleyball is. It shows how anyone can pretty much play. It’s not a one race sport, it’s everyone. If you don’t look at race, and look at skill, it’s all the same. So I never really thought about anything like that. I just play volleyball. I’m passionate about it just like everyone else. But from that time in seventh grade I just never let it bother me because I had other things I had to deal with. I don’t think it was worth my time to listen to or pay attention to. Now I think it’s great in general, how diverse sports have gotten from way back, to now. You see different things. It’s wonderful.”

Q: Do you still have to deal with racist remarks even now?

A: “People joke about certain things, but (they should) think about what they’re saying. It’s funny now, but really think about what you’re saying when you do say it. Now it doesn’t faze me anymore. Everyone plays off everything.  It’s based on how good you are, not about what race you are or anything like that. That’s just how I’ve always thought of it.”

Q: Where did you get your strong outlook on life?

A: “My mom went through the same thing. She lived in New Mexico on the reservation, and she’s part black, too. My grandmother still lives on the reservation. The people on the reservation, or the people she went to school with, would not look at her the same. They would treat her differently because she’s black or Navajo Indian. She went through all of that before, so when I brought it up to her and said some stuff about it she told me how to deal with it. I never came home and cried about it or got angry. I just thought it was stupid.  I wanted to have fun and play volleyball. It was good at that age, dealing with everything. Everything comes at you at once sometimes, but I overcame it. This is where I am now.”

Q: I know that you’re really close with your mom and sister, but with your parents divorcing in fifth grade it had to be hard. What was growing up like?

A: “Growing up was different. I decided to move in with my mom and move to a different place, go to a different school, and it was hard at first because I was so young. I had no idea what was going on. I had my little sister, too, and I tried to not make her worry too much about what was going on. Seeing other girls with their whole family and talking about their whole families, and then I go back home and it’s only me and my mom and my sister. That’s hard. But I got over that little part of it and realized it’s not my fault that they’re not together. Then it’s just me, my mom, and my sister. Let’s move forward.”

Q: So you’re 10 and trying to look after your little sister. Do you feel like you had to grow up really fast?

A: “Yeah, growing up in general, my mom worked and my dad played football. My mom worked probably an hour away from where we lived. So I was always home alone with my sister. I had to grow up as soon as I could walk to school myself and to take care of her when my parents weren’t there, pretty much. Football schedules are always so different. Traveling, or going wherever and then my mom would leave at 6:30-7 in the morning and wouldn’t get back until 7 or 8 at night. I feel like that has been a part of me being as mature as I am right now because I had to do it at such a young age. We had babysitters, friends that lived next door to take care of us, but it wasn’t the same. I still had to go back to my house and do it myself. I woke up in the morning by myself, did my hair myself, dressed myself, I had to learn everything pretty much on my own. Go to school, walk back home and just wait.”

Q: Do you think growing up in that setting made you a stronger person?

A: “Now it’s normal. It’s just me my mom and my sister. That’s our family. Growing up was different than the kids I hung out with and it was hard, but I got used to it. Some kids get embarrassed by it, but I never felt that way because it happens, you can’t really do anything about it. I might as well embrace it now. All because of how much my mom did for us from the beginning. Like moving from New Mexico, where she lived all of her life, to Houston. She knew nothing, she didn’t have much money and she didn’t have a job. It went from her not having that much to seeing her work so hard to get where she is now – and to see where she has gotten us now. I don’t get angry about how we grew up, I’m happy we grew up that way. Now we’re so much more appreciative of what we have now because we didn’t have it before.”

Q: Do you ever look back and are amazed at how far you’ve come?

A: “It makes me happy to see my mom happy. Especially because she’s worked so hard to get there. It is funny to talk about sometimes because we had nothing. We had absolutely nothing and came so far. No matter what, my mom always made sure she could get something for us. She always made it happen. Even now with these trips. Club volleyball is like $3,000 dollars, and that’s not including the hotels, trip, and everything. She’s always like ‘I don’t know if we have enough money for this but we’ll get you there!’ And it always happens. She always got us there, we always got what we needed. And she was always okay. That always makes me happy, especially because she had that thought process even when she didn’t have anything. She always knew she was going to be okay. That makes me excited for my own future. I know it’s going to be okay because I’ve watched her do it.”

#OneTeam – Liana Salazar
Q: World cup and international soccer, Columbians are tremendously talented. Were you one of a million girls who played soccer at home?
A: “That’s something that is very different from here. I was working in camps in Lawrence this week and you saw little kids playing. More than 100 girls playing. In Colombia, you can’t find that. We don’t have so much support. It’s hard for girls to play there. I was thinking I wish I could be able to go the camp when I was four, but no.”
 
Q: It’s non-traditional for women to play sports in Colombia?
A: “When we start playing, it was a lot of controversy about women’s soccer in Colombia. Because nobody knows about women’s soccer. When people started watching us, they would ask ‘What are you guys doing? Soccer is not for women.’ We hear a lot of bad comments, destructive comments. We said no, we can play and soccer is not just for guys, it’s for women.”
 
Q: So how did you play as a little girl with that controversy?
A: I played with boys. I was the only girl. It’s just different. But now after we start with the national team after we went to the world cup, and people started seeing that there is a potential in Colombia, they started building women’s clubs. It’s getting better, but compared to here, it’s so behind.
 
Q: What was that like for your mom to have a daughter doing something controversial?
A: “Most moms in Colombia don’t support that. They’re like, ‘No, my girl can’t play soccer because that’s for guys.’ My mom she’s so open-minded, she always told me to go do whatever I want.”
 
Q: Is that why you came to the United States?
A: “I think that was one of the main reasons why I came, because here I knew I would be able to study and play soccer in a high level at the same time. That’s what I want to do. In Colombia, we don’t have that. You either study – or you study. Then, when the pro league started, I was like ‘YES, now I can stay here. I don’t have to move’ And there is a team in Kansas, which is good. I was very excited about that. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but yeah, I’m not going back to Colombia, just to visit my family. That’s it.”
Q: When you arrived on campus, did you speak English?
A: “Not at all. I studied English in school, but then I got here and realized you didn’t learn anything until you lived in it. I’m getting better. Now when I go home, my family wants me to say things in English, but I’m like why? You don’t know what I’m saying.”
 
Q: Being the only one in your family to move away to the United States, do you feel you were going against tradition in your family, to go to college in the U.S.?
A: “Actually no. They all still get together for Sunday lunch without me, which I hate because I miss that so much. But no, I think when I go there, that brings my family close because all my family wants to see me, ‘Liana is here, let’s go.’ So it actually helps.”
 
Q: Was that hard for you to be the one that’s so far away?
A: “No, because I did play with my national team and we traveled a lot. So for me it’s not hard being away, it’s normal. Like I said, sometimes I miss my family, but when I’m there, I like to be there for about a month. No longer than that because I miss this. I miss school, I miss practice, I miss it here. I like this environment.”
 
Q: Is Bogota crowded? Is there much room for soccer fields?
A: It’s very different from here. We have very big buildings there, I think the big one here is Fraser Hall. It’s like China – buildings just go up, not wide. We have places you can go and play soccer. There’s room. In terms of living, it’s just apartments, apartments, apartments. There’s not so much room to build houses like there is here. Houses here are huge. But there it’s not. You have to be outside the city.”
 
Q: Did you live in an apartment growing up?
A: Yes. I like apartments, I feel like that brings the family close. That’s why I like apartments and not houses, I feel like everyone is too spread out. I went to Haley Yearout’s house, my teammate, and her house is huge. You don’t notice if your sister is there with you or your dad or your mom. You just don’t notice. It’s weird.”
 
Q: What is it like to drive in Bogota?
A: “It’s crazy; it’s a city with a lot of cars. People have two or three cars per family and the streets are just two sides. So it’s just crazy. Also we have taxis, buses and a metro, so it’s so busy all the time. You go out and you hear so much noise, pollution and everything.”
 
Q: Do you laugh when people in Lawrence say traffic is bad?
A: “Yes exactly. Some of my teammates say there is so much traffic – and there are four cars ahead of them. I’m like seriously, you should go to Colombia, you can spend an hour, two hours in traffic.”
 
Q: You can basically just walk over from the Towers and be on a soccer field. How long would it take you to get to a soccer field back home?
A: “Longer because there is a lot of traffic. Maybe 45 minutes, more. It’s because of the traffic. If we didn’t have traffic it would be 10-15 minutes.” 
 

 

#OneTeam – Liana Salazar

Q: World cup and international soccer, Columbians are tremendously talented. Were you one of a million girls who played soccer at home?

A: “That’s something that is very different from here. I was working in camps in Lawrence this week and you saw little kids playing. More than 100 girls playing. In Colombia, you can’t find that. We don’t have so much support. It’s hard for girls to play there. I was thinking I wish I could be able to go the camp when I was four, but no.”

 

Q: It’s non-traditional for women to play sports in Colombia?

A: “When we start playing, it was a lot of controversy about women’s soccer in Colombia. Because nobody knows about women’s soccer. When people started watching us, they would ask ‘What are you guys doing? Soccer is not for women.’ We hear a lot of bad comments, destructive comments. We said no, we can play and soccer is not just for guys, it’s for women.”

 

Q: So how did you play as a little girl with that controversy?

A: I played with boys. I was the only girl. It’s just different. But now after we start with the national team after we went to the world cup, and people started seeing that there is a potential in Colombia, they started building women’s clubs. It’s getting better, but compared to here, it’s so behind.

 

Q: What was that like for your mom to have a daughter doing something controversial?

A: “Most moms in Colombia don’t support that. They’re like, ‘No, my girl can’t play soccer because that’s for guys.’ My mom she’s so open-minded, she always told me to go do whatever I want.”

 

Q: Is that why you came to the United States?

A: “I think that was one of the main reasons why I came, because here I knew I would be able to study and play soccer in a high level at the same time. That’s what I want to do. In Colombia, we don’t have that. You either study – or you study. Then, when the pro league started, I was like ‘YES, now I can stay here. I don’t have to move’ And there is a team in Kansas, which is good. I was very excited about that. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but yeah, I’m not going back to Colombia, just to visit my family. That’s it.”

Q: When you arrived on campus, did you speak English?

A: “Not at all. I studied English in school, but then I got here and realized you didn’t learn anything until you lived in it. I’m getting better. Now when I go home, my family wants me to say things in English, but I’m like why? You don’t know what I’m saying.”

 

Q: Being the only one in your family to move away to the United States, do you feel you were going against tradition in your family, to go to college in the U.S.?

A: “Actually no. They all still get together for Sunday lunch without me, which I hate because I miss that so much. But no, I think when I go there, that brings my family close because all my family wants to see me, ‘Liana is here, let’s go.’ So it actually helps.”

 

Q: Was that hard for you to be the one that’s so far away?

A: “No, because I did play with my national team and we traveled a lot. So for me it’s not hard being away, it’s normal. Like I said, sometimes I miss my family, but when I’m there, I like to be there for about a month. No longer than that because I miss this. I miss school, I miss practice, I miss it here. I like this environment.”

 

Q: Is Bogota crowded? Is there much room for soccer fields?

A: It’s very different from here. We have very big buildings there, I think the big one here is Fraser Hall. It’s like China – buildings just go up, not wide. We have places you can go and play soccer. There’s room. In terms of living, it’s just apartments, apartments, apartments. There’s not so much room to build houses like there is here. Houses here are huge. But there it’s not. You have to be outside the city.”

 

Q: Did you live in an apartment growing up?

A: Yes. I like apartments, I feel like that brings the family close. That’s why I like apartments and not houses, I feel like everyone is too spread out. I went to Haley Yearout’s house, my teammate, and her house is huge. You don’t notice if your sister is there with you or your dad or your mom. You just don’t notice. It’s weird.”

 

Q: What is it like to drive in Bogota?

A: “It’s crazy; it’s a city with a lot of cars. People have two or three cars per family and the streets are just two sides. So it’s just crazy. Also we have taxis, buses and a metro, so it’s so busy all the time. You go out and you hear so much noise, pollution and everything.”

 

Q: Do you laugh when people in Lawrence say traffic is bad?

A: “Yes exactly. Some of my teammates say there is so much traffic – and there are four cars ahead of them. I’m like seriously, you should go to Colombia, you can spend an hour, two hours in traffic.”

 

Q: You can basically just walk over from the Towers and be on a soccer field. How long would it take you to get to a soccer field back home?

A: “Longer because there is a lot of traffic. Maybe 45 minutes, more. It’s because of the traffic. If we didn’t have traffic it would be 10-15 minutes.” 

 

 

This week in #OneTeam we sat down with Alexandre Lavigne, a Freshman on the Kansas Cross Country team.
 
Q: Does a French-Canadian from Quebec City see a lot of differences in their own culture and the culture in the United States?
A: “Our culture is really friendly. You see a lot of conversations on the street between people that don’t even know each other. I thought the United States would be more individual and without those same kind of relationships that I see back home, but I was glad to see that Lawrence is like that, a small town where people are still interested in each other. I really appreciate it. I’m sure it depends on city to city, but I like that about Lawrence.”
 
Q: Are you the only one in your family in the United States?
A: “Yes. We have really good colleges in Quebec and Canada, but the difference is on the athletics side. There are many more resources here. That’s the main reason I wanted to come here rather than stay in Canada. Sports are part of the culture in the U.S. Canada doesn’t have as much money to put into athletics and not as many people are interested.”
 
Q: Do you speak both French and English?
A: “Yes, I’ve had English classes at school since I was eight. My parents thought it would be really important for me to learn English. So they took me to English camps and made me watch TV in English. It gave me a really good start. I had to get good enough at English to come study in the United States.”
 
Q: You’re studying to be a mechanical engineer, while also running cross country and track at a Division I school. Which was emphasized more during your childhood – school or sports?
A: “I know it’s a challenging major, but I embrace the challenge. School has always been really important in my family and I wanted to make sure that coming to the United States would be good for academics, as well. I found a major that would be interesting for me, which was mechanical engineering with a biomechanics concentration. I thought it’d be really fun to do.”
 
Q: So did coming to the U.S. turn out to be good for your academics?
A: “Yes. It’s hard, but I enjoy spending a lot of time doing homework and stuff like that. My parents have never pushed me toward sports or to compete at any level. However, with school they pushed me a lot to be as good as I can and study as much as possible to be prepared for exams. Sometimes my teammates think I study too much but I just really want to be as good as I can.” 
Q: What’s the biggest difference between training in Kansas and training in Quebec?
A: “When we train in Quebec, we’re not as close. When we train here, we’re with the team every day and always practice together. In Quebec we would meet three times a week, but you’re not running with the team all the time which made a difference. I was often by myself.”
 
Q: What language do you speak when you go home?
A: “All French. A lot of people in Quebec speak both, but since French is everyone’s first language, that’s what we speak all the time. That’s something I like when I go back home.” 
 
Q: Many athletes feel pride representing their school, but at 19 years old you represented your country at the Junior National Championships in Barcelona. How is it different?
A: “That’s something that I was really proud of because there are not a lot of people that get to represent their country. I felt like it gives you more energy.”
 
Q: Putting in the amount of mileage you do in a week would take a lot of time, do you spend more time running or studying?
A: “I spend the same amount of time running and studying. With maximum training for running, if you overdo it your body just can’t handle it, so I know when to stop. But I spend a lot of time studying, too, so it’s really hard to tell.” 
 
Q: What sets cross country and distance runners apart? What do you have to have mentally?
A: “The key to being successful is to be dedicated. I don’t know about other sports but for cross country you don’t want to be just dedicated at practice or certain times. You have to be dedicated 24/7. I always think about how much I eat and sleep. I don’t want to go out so that it would affect my running. Your whole life depends on your sport and that’s what makes it special when you win awards or races. Knowing you put so much time and work into it makes it even better.” 

This week in #OneTeam we sat down with Alexandre Lavigne, a Freshman on the Kansas Cross Country team.

 

Q: Does a French-Canadian from Quebec City see a lot of differences in their own culture and the culture in the United States?

A: “Our culture is really friendly. You see a lot of conversations on the street between people that don’t even know each other. I thought the United States would be more individual and without those same kind of relationships that I see back home, but I was glad to see that Lawrence is like that, a small town where people are still interested in each other. I really appreciate it. I’m sure it depends on city to city, but I like that about Lawrence.”

 

Q: Are you the only one in your family in the United States?

A: “Yes. We have really good colleges in Quebec and Canada, but the difference is on the athletics side. There are many more resources here. That’s the main reason I wanted to come here rather than stay in Canada. Sports are part of the culture in the U.S. Canada doesn’t have as much money to put into athletics and not as many people are interested.”

 

Q: Do you speak both French and English?

A: “Yes, I’ve had English classes at school since I was eight. My parents thought it would be really important for me to learn English. So they took me to English camps and made me watch TV in English. It gave me a really good start. I had to get good enough at English to come study in the United States.

 

Q: You’re studying to be a mechanical engineer, while also running cross country and track at a Division I school. Which was emphasized more during your childhood – school or sports?

A: “I know it’s a challenging major, but I embrace the challenge. School has always been really important in my family and I wanted to make sure that coming to the United States would be good for academics, as well. I found a major that would be interesting for me, which was mechanical engineering with a biomechanics concentration. I thought it’d be really fun to do.”

 

Q: So did coming to the U.S. turn out to be good for your academics?

A: “Yes. It’s hard, but I enjoy spending a lot of time doing homework and stuff like that. My parents have never pushed me toward sports or to compete at any level. However, with school they pushed me a lot to be as good as I can and study as much as possible to be prepared for exams. Sometimes my teammates think I study too much but I just really want to be as good as I can.” 

Q: What’s the biggest difference between training in Kansas and training in Quebec?

A: “When we train in Quebec, we’re not as close. When we train here, we’re with the team every day and always practice together. In Quebec we would meet three times a week, but you’re not running with the team all the time which made a difference. I was often by myself.”

 

Q: What language do you speak when you go home?

A: “All French. A lot of people in Quebec speak both, but since French is everyone’s first language, that’s what we speak all the time. That’s something I like when I go back home.”

 

Q: Many athletes feel pride representing their school, but at 19 years old you represented your country at the Junior National Championships in Barcelona. How is it different?

A: “That’s something that I was really proud of because there are not a lot of people that get to represent their country. I felt like it gives you more energy.”

 

Q: Putting in the amount of mileage you do in a week would take a lot of time, do you spend more time running or studying?

A: “I spend the same amount of time running and studying. With maximum training for running, if you overdo it your body just can’t handle it, so I know when to stop. But I spend a lot of time studying, too, so it’s really hard to tell.”

 

Q: What sets cross country and distance runners apart? What do you have to have mentally?

A: “The key to being successful is to be dedicated. I don’t know about other sports but for cross country you don’t want to be just dedicated at practice or certain times. You have to be dedicated 24/7. I always think about how much I eat and sleep. I don’t want to go out so that it would affect my running. Your whole life depends on your sport and that’s what makes it special when you win awards or races. Knowing you put so much time and work into it makes it even better.” 

 
In this week’s edition of #oneteam with Quarterback Montell Cozart, we learn about the stylish sophomore’s obsession with fashion and socks in particular.
Q: Word is you have an awesome – and unique – sense of style. Care to explain?
A: “I have a sock fetish. My shoes and socks have to match my outfits. I have a pair of hamburger socks, which match a pair of my shoes and they match one of my outfits. People back home know me for wearing crazy socks. That’s one of my fashion tips.”
Q: What’s your typical ‘going to class’ outfit?
A: “I feel like you can mix it up. Sometimes I like to go to class in a pair of jeans and a nice shirt and some nice shoes. I don’t always want to look like a typical athlete with shorts, sneakers and a ball cap on. Going in there looking presentable, like you’re going out or to a function or that you’re going to go get a girl. I feel like that kind of sets a tone for being a student-athlete, too. That you’re able to switch it over and be presentable.”
Q: Is there a secret to picking out the right look?
A: “I’m kind of a nature person, so I try to blend in with the seasons. In the springtime, I’m trying to be colorful. In the fall, I go with oranges and browns to fit in with the season. My favorite color is orange – so I’m always bright. I have a pair of shoes that are all orange, so I wear them all the time. Then people always see me from a mile away.
I’m always trying to fit in but stand out at the same time. I do enough but not too much to where people try to judge you. I like to stand out in my own way.”
Q: Do you ever feel like people judge you because you dress well?
A: “I’m sure people judge me on ‘why does he spend his money on this or that?’ I could probably wear a different pair of shoes every day for a few months in a row. But everybody has their own fashion sense, so I don’t judge. If you can make it look swag and do whatever you can with what you’ve got, then I agree with that.” 
Q: When did you start your trend-setting ways?
A: “My sophomore year is when I started to get on that kick. When they started coming out with a pair of shoes and then a pair socks would come out that matched exactly the same, that’s what did it for me. Ever since then I’ve been doing it. My sock drawer is ridiculous. I probably don’t have a pair of plain white socks in there.”
Q: Are your parents fashionistas, too?
“My mom is, for sure, and so is my dad. I have an older brother so I get it from him and it goes on down to me. I kind of go off of him and try to follow his lead.”
Q: Did kids ever tease you about it when you were younger?
A: “In high school we had uniforms, so I didn’t have to go through that. Our uniforms were a white collared shirt, a red collared shirt or a blue one and a pair of khakis. So for me, I had to wear a crazy pair of shoes. I had this pair that were tennis-ball colored and I would wear those with some crazy socks. People always know me for something crazy like that. I didn’t have to go through being picked on for fashion, but I always tried to make myself stand out and make my uniform swag, or whatever people say.”
Q: Would you ever be caught wearing brown shoes with black pants?
A: “Fashion rules definitely apply. I might wear some white pants when they’re out of season. But if you have a fashion sense, you can make up your own.”

 

In this week’s edition of #oneteam with Quarterback Montell Cozart, we learn about the stylish sophomore’s obsession with fashion and socks in particular.

Q: Word is you have an awesome – and unique – sense of style. Care to explain?

A: I have a sock fetish. My shoes and socks have to match my outfits. I have a pair of hamburger socks, which match a pair of my shoes and they match one of my outfits. People back home know me for wearing crazy socks. That’s one of my fashion tips.”

Q: What’s your typical ‘going to class’ outfit?

A: “I feel like you can mix it up. Sometimes I like to go to class in a pair of jeans and a nice shirt and some nice shoes. I don’t always want to look like a typical athlete with shorts, sneakers and a ball cap on. Going in there looking presentable, like you’re going out or to a function or that you’re going to go get a girl. I feel like that kind of sets a tone for being a student-athlete, too. That you’re able to switch it over and be presentable.”

Q: Is there a secret to picking out the right look?

A: “I’m kind of a nature person, so I try to blend in with the seasons. In the springtime, I’m trying to be colorful. In the fall, I go with oranges and browns to fit in with the season. My favorite color is orange – so I’m always bright. I have a pair of shoes that are all orange, so I wear them all the time. Then people always see me from a mile away.

I’m always trying to fit in but stand out at the same time. I do enough but not too much to where people try to judge you. I like to stand out in my own way.”

Q: Do you ever feel like people judge you because you dress well?

A: “I’m sure people judge me on ‘why does he spend his money on this or that?’ I could probably wear a different pair of shoes every day for a few months in a row. But everybody has their own fashion sense, so I don’t judge. If you can make it look swag and do whatever you can with what you’ve got, then I agree with that.”

Q: When did you start your trend-setting ways?

A: “My sophomore year is when I started to get on that kick. When they started coming out with a pair of shoes and then a pair socks would come out that matched exactly the same, that’s what did it for me. Ever since then I’ve been doing it. My sock drawer is ridiculous. I probably don’t have a pair of plain white socks in there.”

Q: Are your parents fashionistas, too?

“My mom is, for sure, and so is my dad. I have an older brother so I get it from him and it goes on down to me. I kind of go off of him and try to follow his lead.”

Q: Did kids ever tease you about it when you were younger?

A: “In high school we had uniforms, so I didn’t have to go through that. Our uniforms were a white collared shirt, a red collared shirt or a blue one and a pair of khakis. So for me, I had to wear a crazy pair of shoes. I had this pair that were tennis-ball colored and I would wear those with some crazy socks. People always know me for something crazy like that. I didn’t have to go through being picked on for fashion, but I always tried to make myself stand out and make my uniform swag, or whatever people say.”

Q: Would you ever be caught wearing brown shoes with black pants?

A: “Fashion rules definitely apply. I might wear some white pants when they’re out of season. But if you have a fashion sense, you can make up your own.”

In this week’s edition of #oneteam, Junior Linebacker Ben Goodman discusses his history with the rodeo and how football wasn’t his original plan.
Q: How is it that a college football player like yourself actually got his start in rodeo?
A: “My family has been in rodeos for decades. I was five months old the first time I rode a horse and I just grew up in that environment. I remember the first time I competed, I was four years old. I learned how to ride when I was two. I probably couldn’t even talk, but I was riding.”
Q: Your dad was a professional in the rodeo – what was growing up like?
A: “I grew up traveling. I experienced a lot of things and saw a lot of places that I don’t think a normal kid would see. Sometimes my parents would pull me and my sister out of school on Friday because we’d have somewhere to be, like a rodeo in Tennessee. We’d go to California for two weeks every summer to hit five rodeos.”
Q: How did you handle being in rodeos and playing football at such a young age?
A: “I actually had little league football tryouts one day and it got rained out. My mom asked me if I wanted to go back and I said no, I wanted to stick to rodeo.I rodeoed. I didn’t want to play football. I didn’t play football until middle school.”
Q: Rodeos can be dangerous for adults, much less little kids. Did growing up in the rodeo lead to any bad experiences for you?
A: “So many tragic events happen. I saw two of my uncles break their necks doing rodeos. I’ve seen people have knee replacements, tear ACLs, cut fingers off in ropes – it’s dangerous. Plus, you’re out there competing with animals that are massive. That’s dangerous by itself. We were at a rodeo in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I was 5, maybe 6, and my uncle was on a bareback horse. Literally a suitcase handle was strapped around the horse and there is this sticky stuff, like dried honey, on the gloves. You put your hand in the glove and it helps you hold on. The horse started running around the fence and was whipping my uncle back and forth so hard, that he broke his neck because he couldn’t let go. I went to the hospital with him. I had to be like, 5 or 6.”
Q: Which is harder – playing football or competing in rodeos?
A: “Playing football is physical with all the hits you take, but growing up in the country life you have to be tough. You’re just bred tough. You’re naturally tough. Everybody, boy or girl, grows up in a male society: you have to be tough, you have to be masculine. So that’s instilled at a young age. You can’t cry.”

Q: Given the danger, the injuries, the not-so-pretty parts of taking care of animals – do you wish you had grown up more like a normal kid?
A: “I love it. I love the country life and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.”
Q: Most high school graduates spend their last weekend before reporting to college relaxing or hanging out with friends. How did you spend yours?
A: “The week before I came to Kansas, I went on one last go-round and entered three rodeos. One was in Mississippi, one was in Texas – three hours from my house – and the other was another three hours from that. The first one was on a Thursday night, and I went to that one by myself. I won one event and took second in the other. Friday, I went to the next one. This one was a long-go, short-go. That means say 50 guys compete on Friday and the top-10 are called back to compete on Sunday. I competed in three events and made it back for all three events that Sunday. But, I had a rodeo in Mississippi on Saturday. This one was also a long-go, short-go but you competed in the morning and came back that night. I won some money that night. I drove back to Texas that night to compete on Sunday. I placed second in one and third in another. I slept maybe 30 hours that whole span. If my dad was driving, I’d sleep. When it was my turn to drive, he’d sleep. It took teamwork to do it, but my family was there to back me – and I ended up winning $3,700. It was a productive weekend.”
Q: Did you always feel different from other kids at school?
A: “I’m sure no one’s life was like mine because I was the only one in the school that rodeoed. I knew they hadn’t experienced the things I did. Some of them did travel a lot, but with us it was somewhere different every weekend.”
Q: So what was your own worst injury?
A: “I was five and being the terrible kid I was. My dad kept telling me ‘Stop playing with that gate, stop playing with that gate.’ It was one of those gates that you let the cows in, but they won’t be able to reverse back out. There was a little hole on the top of the gate and I ended up with my finger in there – and I ripped off my finger. Now, it’s sewn on there. There was blood everywhere. My dad had a white shirt, there was blood all over it. My uncle had a white shirt on, there was blood all over that. Even the guy that we rode up there with had blood all up in his car.”
Q: What are the not-so-exciting parts about growing up in rodeo life?
“Every day you have to go feed the horses. Every summer, you’ve got to go throw 100-200 bales of hay on a low-boy trailer. Or you’ve got to go carry 10, 60-pound bags of feed. You’ve got to go clean the stalls. You’re 12 years old, but you have to go take care of your horses. You’re carrying water and struggling, setting them down every five steps, but you have to keep going. Nobody knows about that.”
Q: Was it hard to tell your rodeo crew that you picked football instead? At least for the time being?
A: “Most people on the rodeo circuit know NFL players a lot more than rodeo guys. They tell me all the time that rodeo is going to be here forever, ‘Follow your heart. Play football.’ My dad actually sheltered me away from rodeo quite a bit. He wouldn’t let me steer wrestle because it’s bad on your knees.”
Q: Are you the only rodeo star on the team?
“I can say one person – Ronnie Davis, the new corner back, he said he roped and competed in rodeos. JaCorey (Shepherd) rides horses, too, but he never competed in rodeos.
Q: Given the danger, the injuries, the not-so-pretty parts of taking care of animals – do you wish you had grown up more like a normal kid?
A: “I love it. I love the country life and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.”
Order your tickets to see Ben Goodman lasso quarterbacks this fall in Memorial Stadium: BUY NOW

In this week’s edition of #oneteam, Junior Linebacker Ben Goodman discusses his history with the rodeo and how football wasn’t his original plan.

Q: How is it that a college football player like yourself actually got his start in rodeo?

A: “My family has been in rodeos for decades. I was five months old the first time I rode a horse and I just grew up in that environment. I remember the first time I competed, I was four years old. I learned how to ride when I was two. I probably couldn’t even talk, but I was riding.”

Q: Your dad was a professional in the rodeo – what was growing up like?

A: “I grew up traveling. I experienced a lot of things and saw a lot of places that I don’t think a normal kid would see. Sometimes my parents would pull me and my sister out of school on Friday because we’d have somewhere to be, like a rodeo in Tennessee. We’d go to California for two weeks every summer to hit five rodeos.”

Q: How did you handle being in rodeos and playing football at such a young age?

A: “I actually had little league football tryouts one day and it got rained out. My mom asked me if I wanted to go back and I said no, I wanted to stick to rodeo.I rodeoed. I didn’t want to play football. I didn’t play football until middle school.”

Q: Rodeos can be dangerous for adults, much less little kids. Did growing up in the rodeo lead to any bad experiences for you?

A: “So many tragic events happen. I saw two of my uncles break their necks doing rodeos. I’ve seen people have knee replacements, tear ACLs, cut fingers off in ropes – it’s dangerous. Plus, you’re out there competing with animals that are massive. That’s dangerous by itself. We were at a rodeo in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I was 5, maybe 6, and my uncle was on a bareback horse. Literally a suitcase handle was strapped around the horse and there is this sticky stuff, like dried honey, on the gloves. You put your hand in the glove and it helps you hold on. The horse started running around the fence and was whipping my uncle back and forth so hard, that he broke his neck because he couldn’t let go. I went to the hospital with him. I had to be like, 5 or 6.”

Q: Which is harder – playing football or competing in rodeos?

A: “Playing football is physical with all the hits you take, but growing up in the country life you have to be tough. You’re just bred tough. You’re naturally tough. Everybody, boy or girl, grows up in a male society: you have to be tough, you have to be masculine. So that’s instilled at a young age. You can’t cry.”

Q: Given the danger, the injuries, the not-so-pretty parts of taking care of animals – do you wish you had grown up more like a normal kid?

A: “I love it. I love the country life and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.”

Q: Most high school graduates spend their last weekend before reporting to college relaxing or hanging out with friends. How did you spend yours?

A: “The week before I came to Kansas, I went on one last go-round and entered three rodeos. One was in Mississippi, one was in Texas – three hours from my house – and the other was another three hours from that. The first one was on a Thursday night, and I went to that one by myself. I won one event and took second in the other. Friday, I went to the next one. This one was a long-go, short-go. That means say 50 guys compete on Friday and the top-10 are called back to compete on Sunday. I competed in three events and made it back for all three events that Sunday. But, I had a rodeo in Mississippi on Saturday. This one was also a long-go, short-go but you competed in the morning and came back that night. I won some money that night. I drove back to Texas that night to compete on Sunday. I placed second in one and third in another. I slept maybe 30 hours that whole span. If my dad was driving, I’d sleep. When it was my turn to drive, he’d sleep. It took teamwork to do it, but my family was there to back me – and I ended up winning $3,700. It was a productive weekend.”

Q: Did you always feel different from other kids at school?

A: “I’m sure no one’s life was like mine because I was the only one in the school that rodeoed. I knew they hadn’t experienced the things I did. Some of them did travel a lot, but with us it was somewhere different every weekend.”

Q: So what was your own worst injury?

A: “I was five and being the terrible kid I was. My dad kept telling me ‘Stop playing with that gate, stop playing with that gate.’ It was one of those gates that you let the cows in, but they won’t be able to reverse back out. There was a little hole on the top of the gate and I ended up with my finger in there – and I ripped off my finger. Now, it’s sewn on there. There was blood everywhere. My dad had a white shirt, there was blood all over it. My uncle had a white shirt on, there was blood all over that. Even the guy that we rode up there with had blood all up in his car.”

Q: What are the not-so-exciting parts about growing up in rodeo life?

“Every day you have to go feed the horses. Every summer, you’ve got to go throw 100-200 bales of hay on a low-boy trailer. Or you’ve got to go carry 10, 60-pound bags of feed. You’ve got to go clean the stalls. You’re 12 years old, but you have to go take care of your horses. You’re carrying water and struggling, setting them down every five steps, but you have to keep going. Nobody knows about that.”

Q: Was it hard to tell your rodeo crew that you picked football instead? At least for the time being?

A: “Most people on the rodeo circuit know NFL players a lot more than rodeo guys. They tell me all the time that rodeo is going to be here forever, ‘Follow your heart. Play football.’ My dad actually sheltered me away from rodeo quite a bit. He wouldn’t let me steer wrestle because it’s bad on your knees.”

Q: Are you the only rodeo star on the team?

“I can say one person – Ronnie Davis, the new corner back, he said he roped and competed in rodeos. JaCorey (Shepherd) rides horses, too, but he never competed in rodeos.

Q: Given the danger, the injuries, the not-so-pretty parts of taking care of animals – do you wish you had grown up more like a normal kid?

A: “I love it. I love the country life and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.”

Order your tickets to see Ben Goodman lasso quarterbacks this fall in Memorial Stadium: BUY NOW

Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins, your USBWA Freshman All-Americans.

Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins, your USBWA Freshman All-Americans.

The Jayhawks are going dancing as a No. 2 seed!

The Jayhawks are going dancing as a No. 2 seed!