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Cassi Chamberlain Q&A


Senior middle blocker Cassi Chamberlain (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood HS) is nearing the end of a very successful Pepperdine women’s volleyball career. She’s a four-year starter who earned All-WCC honorable mention honors in 2007 and WCC All-Freshman accolades in 2005. She and the other two seniors on the team are aiming to make their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance next month. She’s an academic standout and a prominent member of Pepperdine’s SAAC committee as well. She took a few minutes to talk with about her career.


Q: How does it feel knowing you’ve got about one more month in your Pepperdine volleyball career?


A: “I would say that it’s probably in the back of my mind, in the far, far, far back, because I’m trying to just stay focused on playing right now. But definitely, there’s a different feeling than any other year.”


Q: How would you describe your three-plus years at Pepperdine?


A: “It’s been fun and hard, with some ups and downs. The good things about my experience outweigh anything that’s been hard. The small school, the athletic program, our coaching staff, all that, has made it a great experience. I wouldn’t have traded it in for anything ... I think the bad would be the injuries and the hard losses, but then again, you grow from those and I’m a different person because of them. So there’s a good to a bad.”


Q: The team has hit a rough patch (losing four straight) so how can things be turned around?


A: “We’re getting back to the basics. That’s been a major part of this week’s practices. I think everything goes back to basics. Sometimes you forget about it, and you’re too caught up with the fancy and fun stuff. But it really goes back to the basics. That’s where everyone starts and where everyone is focused on.”


Q: Ideally, how will the team end this season?


A: “Undefeated from here on. Finish conference with a bunch of wins and go into the tournament by winning our last six matches.”


Q: Is there a highlight or a single moment that stands out from your time with the team?


A: “Beating USC my freshman year (in the second round of the NCAA Tournament). We had lost to them in the season and then we beat them in three at USC. It was a big upset. It’s probably my biggest highlight here.”


Q: How would you describe your relationship and what you’ve learned from your coaches?


A: “My relationship has changed every year, mostly from the first three years to this year. I think that before it was very coach and player, and now I’m more involved, in the office, giving them feedback about the team, bringing what the coaches think to the team to get everyone on the same page. So our relationship has been really close. I don’t know if I would have that at a different program ... I think it’s my personality, and trying to be a senior leader, that’s what I’ve been trying to do this year.”


Q: When you were in high school, what made you decide to come to Pepperdine?


A: “The coaches. Nina (Matthies) gave me her one line, “I train athletes for life.” That sold me. I was trying to choose between here and UCLA and she said that, and I just thought she was the kind of person I wanted ruling my life for the next four years.”


Q: Talk about your SAAC involvement and what you’ve gotten out of that.


A: “I have been more involved every year. I think I started my sophomore year or the end of my freshman year. Out of that, I’ve made more friends, I’ve been able to talk to more people, organize some things, and do something besides volleyball. Working with athletes and with Roxanne Levenson has been cool ... Last year was my first year coordinating Mr. All-American, and being the head of the organization. I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, but it got good reviews and there was a great turnout. That was kind of cool.”


Q: You’ve been a strong student with above a 3.0 grade-point average. How have you managed to balance your sport and academics?


A: “For me, when there’s no choices, it’s really easy to do. I don’t have a choice to slack off. It’s easy to balance it because that’s all I’ve known.”


Q: Your bio says you lived on Catalina Island for eight years and the family car was a golf cart. What was that time in your life like?


A: “That was from first to eighth grade. In the summer, it was wake up, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, leave the house and mom said to come home before the sun goes down. I was allowed to do anything I wanted, and all there was to do was hang out at the beach. I even would tie up boats to the dock and get tips so I could buy ice cream. It was a great experience, it was very laid back, and we made our own adventures. We were always out doing something. I guess that’s where I get my easy-going personality from ... My stepdad moved for a better job and we followed. At the time I hated my mom for moving us off, but without living on the mainland, I wouldn’t be here at Pepperdine, that’s for sure. Because I didn’t start playing volleyball until I was 14 or 15, and it was because we moved to Long Beach and I had a friend who told me to try out for club volleyball. I tagged along, was on a horrible team, but got better.”


Q: What’s been the best part of being a student-athlete at Pepperdine?


A: “You get the best of both worlds here. When you’re an athlete at a school, you already feel you’re a part of a community, because you’re part of the athletes. (But at bigger schools) you’re lost in the sea of students. But at Pepperdine, since we’re smaller, I feel like I got to be an athlete and a student, and I got to be an individual, and I got to know my professors.”


Q: You’re majoring in liberal arts and will graduate this spring. What do you plan on doing next?


A: “I will get my credential and teach fourth grade, hopefully. And then get a master’s in early childhood development ... Hopefully I’ll stay in Long Beach or San Diego.”


Q: What does your volleyball future hold?


A: “I’d like to play as long as I can. Who knows how long that will be. Right now it’s telling me it’s the end of the season. But I love coaching too. I’m coaching now and I’ll probably coach then. I’m in my third year coaching at Sports Shack with 15-year-olds.”




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