October 18, 2007

10 Questions with Kara Zaragoza

Print More

Coming off an impressive week in which the volleyball team earned victories over rivals Harvard and previously Ivy-undefeated Dartmouth, Kara Zaragoza dug up a few spikes from Sun Assistant Sports Editor Lance Williams.

1. I like to start out with questions about the team before I get into more ridiculous stuff, just so I maintain some sort of legitimacy in doing these interviews. So that being said, the last three years your team has won an Ivy League championship. But this year is a little bit of a struggle with a 6-9 (3-2 Ivy) record, what’s the deal with the team?
Well, we’re young, and it just takes a while to get used to learning how to win and figuring out what works and what doesn’t work. I mean we start two freshman outside hitters, which is a really big position, and they both have really big shoes to fill with [former Sun Athlete of the Year] Liz Bishop ’06 leaving. But they’re finally getting the hang of it, and we’re finally starting to really work as a team. At least we’re not peaking at the wrong time because I feel like Dartmouth started peaking a couple of weeks ago.
As [Sun Assistant Sports Editor] Harrison Sanford would say, shots fired! You’re hating on Dartmouth already? I didn’t even have to ask the question.
[Laughing] Well they hadn’t lost a game in the Ivy League all year, so it was awesome to win the match against them to knock them off.
Right, knock them off the pedestal if you will. And you actually already covered my next question, which is, do you miss Liz Bishop?
Yes. Well personally I love her and miss her, we had a lot of fun together.
From a team standpoint?
Of course, she is a tough person to lose and is just an extraordinary athlete.

2. Will the team win its fourth Ivy League championship in a row?
I would love for us to win a fourth championship.
You would love for it to happen but will it happen?
Will it happen? I don’t know it is still so early to say because everyone is beating each other right now, so I feel like this weekend will be a good indication of who is going to fall off.
So what is the answer?
[Laughing] Yes.
OK there you go. What about this weekend, are you guys going to win both matches?
Well, we play Brown and Yale, so yes I am expecting to come away with two wins on the weekend.
Now you’re getting the hang of this. What will Kara do this weekend?
What will I do? Oh gosh, well hopefully play really good defense, serve tough and be a leader on and off the court.

3. I heard you like to psych out your opponents during matches by doing some interesting things.
[Laughing]
That was an evil laugh. What do you yell at them?
[Laughing] Lots of random stuff.
Like what?
I just spontaneously make things up as the match goes along.
OK for example? Last match what did you do?
I yelled “chicken wing.”
[Laughing] Chicken wing? Not like barbeque or buffalo, just chicken wing?
Yeah I’m just trying to get in the other person’s head, hoping they hear something random and think what the hell is going on and serve the ball out or something.
Is it spur of the moment or do you prepare these things in advance?
Totally spur of the moment.
Are you sure? I could definitely see you writing these things down when you’re bored in class an thinking to yourself, “Oh that’s good.”
[Laughing] No, there was one that we always used to say though; it was “eat ‘em for dinner.”
What does that even mean? Do you say these things during the match?
Yeah, sometimes.
So here’s my question, do you do that when the ball is in the air or when they are serving? What is happening?
Sometimes our team will be down and we need some kind of energy, so I will just make this random stuff up to 1) get them to smile and lift their spirits a little or 2) or try to throw off the opponent.
Right, so do you do this when there is a break in the action or during the action?
If I’m off the court it’s during and if I’m on the court it’s during a timeout or something.
I gotcha. Another example I hear from one of your teammates was “you’re so ugly.”
[Laughing] Oh my god.
Was she ugly, whoever you yelled this at? She was a beast wasn’t she? It’s OK you can be honest.
[Laughing] Yes.
Contain your laughter, what’s the deal with this?
You know some teams are just not very good looking…
[Interrupts] They’re not attractive, you can’t help it!
Exactly and you have to find a way to mentally break them down, and for me, if it takes telling the truth about how they look, then that’s what you’ve got to do.
[Laughing] I feel like “chicken wing” might have worked, but “you’re so ugly” definitely worked. That would break down a girl in a second, in a heartbeat.
It just throws you off right?
Oh yeah, it kills you.
It’s kind of brutal.
Yeah it’s pretty bad, but I love it. It’s all about getting the win baby.
So do they work for the most part?
For morale boosting it definitely works because then everyone gets excited and starts to play better.

4. I have a quote from the website that I thought was interesting. It says, “Kara is an athletic player who can run down balls and is a good passer.” Do you care to comment on any part of that?
[Laughing] I mean, I am pretty quick so I guess I get to balls quickly.
How many times do you think I can make the same ball joke in 10 Questions?
Definitely every time.
I know right? How does it get old?
I think the beauty of it is that it doesn’t get old [Laughing].
It can’t! When something is printed that says a girl can run down balls, I just can’t resist that. That is money in the bank for me. I think the people want ball jokes, and who I am to say they can’t have them.
[Laughing] Exactly.
So anyways, you can run down balls, correct?
Yes, very well.
Very well? Good to hear.

5. The statement also says you’re an athletic player. And I am certainly not doubting that because you are probably a better athlete than I am, but would you consider yourself an athletic player?
[Confused] Yes.
Now some of your teammates that I have spoken to called that notion into question.
[Shocked] What?
Well let me explain myself. They said that you have some trouble walking on a regular basis. Basically that you trip a lot for no reason, is that true?
That’s true, I run better than I walk.
So on the court you are just casually strolling and you go down?
Yeah.
How?
Well I guess it is kind of like the line jumps out at you but it doesn’t really move.
[Silent and confused]
I don’t really know how to explain it.
[Laughing] Hold on, the line on the court jumps out at you?
Well that’s what people like to make fun about…
So it jumps out of nowhere right?
Right, nothing is there but somehow I manage to trip.
So in your mind it’s like an optical illusion. The line is coming up and you need to step over it.
Well I do have astigmatism so that might be part of it.
[Laughing]
[Laughing] What?
Well I’m not a doctor but I don’t think astigmatism does that. Can you stumble over nothing and still be an athletic player?
Absolutely because, you know what, I don’t fall.
Still a little embarrassing.
It’s really embarrassing! Especially if I’m trying to say something serious and am just walking along and then bam.
Bam! Tough acting Tinactin. [Laughing] I’ll throw a little John Madden at you. No but you’ve never gone down?
In the turf room I have.
Onto the turf? Did it sting a little bit?
Yeah I have some scars.
Man, tough life you have.
[Laughing] It is tough!

6. I consider myself reasonably knowledgeable about all sports but I must admit, I was looking at the volleyball website and I have no idea what the hell these stats mean. But I do recognize a few, so here is my question: are you a better setter, digger or killer?
Definitely a better digger.
OK and that means that you…
Dig the ball. It is hit at me and I’ve got to try to pass it.
Sure. But this all seems kind of violent, I mean killer and then digger? Why is it called a kill, who made that up?
I don’t know who made it up but I guess if you think about it, when the ball is killed the play is over, you know?
Yeah but couldn’t you call it anything besides kill, I feel like that has somewhat of a negative connotation for a positive action.
Yeah but it’s a negative connotation for the team that just got killed.
I see. So the stat shows that it is demoralizing for the other team?
Yeah I guess so. People used to call it a spike but that is kind of girly.
You don’t like spike? What’s wrong with spiking the ball?
I don’t know, I like kill.
You like killing?
I like killing.
Clearly you have some mental problems.
[Laughing] Oh my gosh. I’m really competitive!
I can see that.

7. Another thing I was thinking about, and you don’t hear me complaining about it, but what exactly is with the shorts? Why are they so tight and amazing?
Well I don’t really know why we wear spandex, I don’t know the history behind it.
It is straight spandex!
Yeah, it is straight spandex.
And everyone in every school wears it! So what is the deal with that?
Honestly I don’t know. I guess it is easier to move in.
But does it really help you athletically?
[Laughing] No not really, but I definitely can’t imagine trying to go down for a dig with big old baggy shorts on.
I guess I can see that, but there are other ways to accomplish it. In every sport girls are running and doing athletic moves, you don’t necessarily need your ass shorts on.
[Laughing] Well yeah.
Do you think this was a ploy from someone back in the day who wanted to generate more fans for the sport?
Probably. I remember in high school we used to get attention because of the spandex.
Do you have any problems with the shorts?
Sometimes they ride up on me and it’s really uncomfortable, so I’ve got to keep pulling them down. Because I don’t want my butt to hang out.
Uh huh. And I heard sometimes that you get heckled on the road for your, uh, buttox region.
[Laughing]
I don’t really know how to say that without it being weird.
Me personally or the team?
Everybody.
Yeah it’s hard because you can make a great play, but the only thing you hear from the stands afterwards is, “your ass is showing.”
What is so bad about that?
[Laughing]
Now have you ever done anything to prevent a certain problem with your shorts?
Yeah.
And what exactly is that?
Well last year we were watching on the bus some gymnastics movie. So we got the idea that maybe the stuff gymnasts use to keep their leotards down, it’s called toughskin, would work for spandex.
I’m intrigued.
I bet. So sometimes when we’re on the road we spray…
[Interrupts] OK let’s get this clear so the readers at home can have an image. You spray this stuff on your bare ass or the shorts?
[Laughing] Oh my God. On the butt.
Straight on the butt! Do you do this as a team or individually?
No it’s an individual thing.
No one helps? I would imagine it’s pretty hard to reach around and do this by yourself.
[Laughing] Well sometimes the trainers help.
Are you the only person who does this or are there others?
No [senior captain] Amy Gordon does it sometimes.
Did you start the trend?
I don’t know. I guess gymnasts started the trend.
[Laughing]

9. When I was in high school, the basketball team played the volleyball team in volleyball, and I am very proud to say that we ran house on them. I mean we just demoralized these girls.
That’s kind of sad.
Yeah it is, but we enjoyed the competitiveness. What would the score be if those two teams played at Cornell?
Men’s varsity basketball?
Yes and women’s varsity volleyball in a volleyball match; what would the score be?
It depends because we could probably serve them off the court, and they probably couldn’t pass, but they would be a huge block. So it would hard to hit over them and around them.
So what would the score be?
30-25 or something.
You think they would get 25 points? That’s a lot of points.
OK how about 30-15.
All three games of the match?
No I think the last game would probably be 30-20, but we would definitely sweep them.
I want to see that happen by the way. Because they are competitive as hell obviously…
And they’re really tall.
Exactly. I’m going to talk to someone and see if we can’t make that happen.
That would be pretty cool but I would be pretty scared.
Yeah but that would be a great time to use your intimidation.
[Laughing]
“You’re ugly!” Even the guys would get messed up by that. I also remember from the same match in high school that anytime they got a service ace, they did a little dance and stomp in unison. Do you guys do that?
No but when we get a block we have a block cheer.
And what is that?
[Putting both hands up into the air] We go “roof.”
[Laughing] What the hell was that.
I can’t do it. It’s like [putting both hands into the air] “roof.” And we all put our hands together.
What does roof mean?
You know a house has a roof.
[Laughing] Yeah I think so.
And a good block is kind of like a roof.
Oh I see, so you all form a roof together.
I think so.
I don’t know why, but I was thinking of Rufio from, what’s that movie where they were chanting Rufio?
[Laughing] Hook.
[Laughing] Yeah.

10. What is that hottest men’s team at Cornell?
Baseball.
Quick and decisive, why is that?
Because they are, they are very good-looking guys. And a lot of them are my friends.
I see so you’re catering to your friends, is that the deal?
No, there are some surprisingly good-looking guys on the baseball team.
Surprisingly?
Well not … Shit! [Laughing]

10 Questions with Lance Williams will appear every Thursday unless Lance is arrested for his houses’ many noise violations. He can be reached at lwilliams@cornellsun.com.