Oct. 30, 2013
TODAY'S FEATURED PLAYER: Kristen Gaffney
RS-Freshman, Forward, 6-1
Hometown: Cary, N.C.
Kristen Gaffney knows how to score. She knows how to rebound. But more than anything, she knows how to win.
During the final three seasons of her high school career, Gaffney helped her Green Hope (N.C.) team compile a staggering 105-6 record. In the process, Gaffney consistently broke records and collected honors. She set the state's single-season scoring record as a sophomore, was named a Parade All-American as a senior and finished her career with 2,671 points.
At Vanderbilt, Gaffney has battled knee injuries, which caused her to miss last season. But the redshirt freshman is looking forward to regaining the form that led her to be named the North Carolina Player of the Year by the Associated Press and three other organizations in 2012.
Today, Gaffney is our featured player as we continue our Countdown to Tipoff -- a two-week preview package that will spotlight a different player or coach each day. Gaffney recently sat down for an interview with vucommodores.com to talk about the coming season and a few other topics. Here's what she had to say:
Q-AND-A WITH KRISTEN
QUESTION: What is one thing you have learned from Coach Balcomb -- or one of the members of the coaching staff -- that will stick with you throughout the rest of your career and maybe even beyond that?
KRISTEN: Coach Balcomb has this one quote and she will randomly say it - and it's personally one of my favorites. It's "whatever you want is on the other side of your comfort zone." And (she means that) you have to be willing to get outside of your comfort zone for the things that are most rewarding to you and the things you want most out in life.
QUESTION: Battling an injury is always tough from a physical standpoint. But how tough is it mentally?
KRISTEN: It's really tough mentally. It's hard to sit on the sidelines and see your teammates improving. ... You want to be fighting in there with them. But you build up to the reward (of playing again). It's hard to jump back in ... You literally have to get outside of your comfort zone and literally throw yourself into everything.
QUESTION: After sitting out last year, how motivated are you by the idea of playing your first game at Vanderbilt?
KRISTEN: It's really motivating, honestly. Just the thought of me stepping into the lockerroom on game day and actually seeing my jersey hanging up. And actually getting to put it on for the first time is like all I can think about. It's the thing that gets me through.
QUESTION: Is there one thing - maybe a nerdy habit or something - that you do that your teammates kid you about?
KRISTEN: They kind of tease me about counting down to Christmas. Literally, right after Christmas, that day, I'll probably start to countdown again (to next Christmas). ... My birthday is in December, too, so it's right around Christmas. ... I just love the whole spirit, and snow and Santa.
Favorite movie: Remember the Titans
Favorite fast-food place: Chick-fil-A
Favorite athlete (past or present): Michael Jordan
Favorite vacation spot: Cancun
Favorite celebrity: Miley Cyrus
Favorite TV Show: Boy Meets World
Favorite band/artist: Miley Cyrus
Favorite thing to do on an off day from practice: Sleep
Favorite book: Beach Blonde series (by Katherine Applegate)
Favorite song: Shake Ya Tailfeather (by Nelly, P. Diddy and Murphy Lee)
Most famous person you've ever meet: Wale
Famous person you would most like to meet (past or present): Babe Ruth
What is your oddest talent: None. I am a normal human being.
My ultimate dream job: Inventing something ... and retirement by age 30
Name one thing on your bucket list: Skydive