How did you get started playing basketball?
When I was young, my mom encouraged me to play all types of sports. So I grew up playing football, soccer, baseball and basketball. But as I grew older, she wanted me to really focus on one sport. So around sixth grade, she started having me focus on basketball.
What would you say is the most rewarding part of the sport for you?
It’s the experience and the journey that you have. When you’re part of a team sport, the people that you spend four, five, six hours a day with, they become your brothers, they become like a family to you. So the whole experience and the journey of starting the season off and then seeing where that season ends with the hard work you’ve put in at the beginning of the season. Watching all that hard work turn into wins, turn into playoffs and turn into, ultimately, the championships.
How would you say your college basketball experience differs from your high school experience?
Probably the biggest thing for me is size. College basketball is different to where everybody is really strong. You’re playing against grown men who are 20, 21, 22 years old. So just for me to develop my body would help my game a lot, but one of the things I think I could bring most from my high school is that my high school was extremely successful in basketball. We won the open division state championship, we traveled all around the country, we’re number three in the country. So I think that just the culture of that I can help bring to the school and to the program as well. But with the group of guys we have, they’re making the transition a lot easier for me.
And how would you characterize Oxy’s men’s basketball team?
We’re really just like a big family. We have three freshmen — me, Brandon [Ruotolo] and Austin [Dewitz] — and they’ve done everything that they could to take us under their arms, show us the way here, make us feel like we’re part of the team, part of the family here, introducing the people, and have just made sure that we have had everything that we’ve needed to succeed.
Do you have any other hobbies?
I collect shoes. I don’t know if that’s necessarily a hobby, but that’s pretty much it. All of my life it’s really just been basketball.
Like basketball shoes specifically?
Any type of shoes. Jordans, Nikes, Adidas, high-end shoes, Margielas, just really anything I can get my hands into.
How big is your collection?
Before I moved houses I’d say my collection was probably like… 90 pairs? Maybe 100 pairs. But I probably have like 60-something right now.
What do you think of Occidental overall?
I think it’s a great place. I think that I’ll be able to thrive here. Like any other institution it definitely has its flaws as is evident through our protest, but I think that at the end of the day change can be implemented here, and that along with that change I think it’ll benefit all students of color here.
How did you originally get started playing basketball?
I switched schools in fourth grade, and one of the first things was a basketball sign-up, and it was going to be a way to make new friends. Once I got started, I just never stopped. It was so much fun.
Do you have any specific memory or anecdote associated with basketball?
Well actually, in high school I had a back injury that was supposed to end my ability to run and play forever. Junior year I was able to get back on the court and play again, and the first game back I just started crying because it was amazing. I had done something the doctors told me I couldn’t do. And my first game here, against UCI, I almost started crying again because everyone had told me I couldn’t do it, and the fact that I had done it was just awesome.
Do you find it challenging to juggle academics with athletics?
I honestly don’t because it makes me able to compartmentalize certain things. Academic stress is gone when I get on the court, and it’s like two different worlds that I have together that just make me a better person all-around.
What have you learned from participating in college athletics?
I think I’ve learned that the way certain things are defined is how you expect things from yourself, not from what everyone else tells you. Whatever you think you can do is what you can do, not what doctors say or other coaches. It’s all what you believe in yourself.
How does your college basketball experience differ from your high school experience?
I didn’t get to play for my high school team at all because they didn’t want someone who was injured on the team. So I just played club. But it’s really great to be involved in a school team where you have your friends coming out to support you. School spirit is great.
Was it rough to transition from high school club to college basketball?
Practices are more frequent and longer and there’s lifting, conditioning and everything, but it wasn’t really rough. It was more of like, this is what I want to be doing.
Are you involved in any other extracurriculars?
I sing every Sunday in the Newman group at church.
What else do you do with your spare time?
What do you think of Oxy so far?
Oxy’s great. In high school I was always the weird person. Here, everyone is welcome with their little quirks and all, and it’s just a lovely community of individuals that come together.
*How would you characterize Oxy’s women’s basketball team?
We might not win every game, but we’re a family.
How has that team aspect changed for you from high school to college?
I would say it’s improved. I would say the team here at Oxy is better than my club team was in high school. My club team was great and I loved it. But it was hard to get through, and there were a couple of people that were just not the best teammates. Then you get here and everyone is super positive, everyone is super inclusive. It’s so easy to integrate real quick into it.
Are there any other extracurriculars that you’re involved in?
I’m not in this yet, but I want to rush SAE. I’m also in Fantastiprov, which is the comedic improv group here. I’ll probably try out for plays next semester.
Do you have any anecdotes or specific memories that you associate with swimming?
One of my last races on my club team in high school I was going for a championship cut, a sectionals cut, and it was in the 200 fly. When I was swimming it, I was feeling good, and then I touched the wall to finish, and I looked back at the clock, and I had gotten the time exactly. The cut was a 2:01:19, and that’s exactly the time I had. So, you know, that was funny, and that was a funny moment for all of the coaches on the sides. We all had a laugh about that — about how I almost missed it, and, you know, I got it, barely. So I would say that’s a fun memory.
How would you characterize Oxy’s swimming team?
Oh my goodness. They’re awesome. They’re just such great teammates. They’re always positive, always supportive. They push you, they cheer you on. They embody a great team.
What do you think of Oxy as a whole?
I’ve really enjoyed my time here. I know it’s been less than a semester, but I’ve really, really enjoyed it here.
Was swimming a large part of why you came to Oxy?
Actually, part of the reason why I chose Oxy was because of the swim team. I originally didn’t know if I was swimming in college because I really wanted to choose a college based on the academics. But when it came down to the decision, I met the coach and I had talked to swimmers. I was doing an athletics tour and we were walking through and both of the tour guides were swimmers. They were like, “oh my gosh, you’re swimming, what are you swimming, you should totally come here,” and the whole time we were walking through they would be like, “oh, so-and-so, this is Megan, she might swim next year,” and everyone would be like “come to Oxy.” I never really felt like that at other schools. I think the team has a really special bond, and I love that.
How do you balance athletics with academics?
No sleep. I didn’t realize the timing of my CSP when I registered, that it was during afternoon practice, so I have morning practice six days a week. And I like working at night. So it’s a lot of coffee. I just finished my second nap of the day.
So what time do you have to get up in the morning?
Monday Wednesday Friday I get up at 5:28 in the morning. I have a very, very specific system. I know just the right amount of time to roll out of bed, get in my suit and run down to the pool. Sometimes I wake up in the morning, especially when it’s like 45 degrees outside, and I’m just like, what am I doing, what am I doing with my life. But then once I finish practice I’m like, okay, that was totally worth it. It’s especially fun just because the team immediately would get out, you get to take a warm shower, we get to go eat lots of breakfast together.
So what do you do with your spare time?
I really enjoy playing my violin, drawing, looking at cat videos on the internet. Anybody that knows me can tell you that I am a crazy cat lady. I get to see my cat in six days. Honestly, I’m so excited about that. I really like hanging out with my friends. That’s probably one of the hardest things. Even though I have my swimming friends, some of the friends that I’ve made outside of swimming, I don’t get to see them as often because of my practice schedule and my class schedule. But it’s really nice because they’re still there for me and I’m thankful for that.