Thursday, November 10, 2011

Two sports, one Becca, no problem

My daughter Jasmine, now a sophomore at Tufts University, doesn't play college sports. Vicki's kids, Harry (high school) and Ben (middle school) haven't made it to college yet. Diana Taurasi is out of eligibility.

So Richmond's Becca Wann is my favorite college athlete.

I'll confess, part of it is because of the name. Becca Wann. It's up there with Destiny Spence in my personal pantheon of super-cool athlete names. But the main reason I'm bullish on Becca is because she continues to do something I wasn't sure anyone would have much luck trying to do - play soccer and basketball at the Division I level. The NCAA claims it doesn't compile lists of two-sport athletes, but I'm not sure Becca isn't the only D-I doing this particular double. And doing it well, too - Wann was recently named the Atlantic 10's women's soccer Offensive Player of the Year.

So fascinated am I by this pursuit that I spent the fall faithfully following Spiders women's soccer - and I don't even like soccer (sorry, Becca). Unfortunately, that's over now as on Monday, Richmond got screwed (my word, not Becca's) out of an NCAA Tournament bid. But while it's the 2011 sports climax for her soccer teammates, it's essentially the halftime break in Becca's athletic year. And when the Spiders tip off at Navy in Friday's women's basketball season opener, Becca's two-sport beat starts up all over again.

Did you watch the women's soccer selection show?

Actually, I was at basketball practice.

Figures. But how could you concentrate on basketball at a time like that?

Honestly, when I started I was doing drills and I had asked my soccer coach to run in the door if we were still playing. But as the practice went on, I just started focusing on basketball and I really didn't think about (the soccer) too much.

So, are you ready for hoops?

Well, this year was kind of different because I was definitely more focused on soccer. I hadn't picked up a basketball in like three months before (Monday). So it was like a whole new world for me. But Coach (Michael Shafer) understood. I just concentrated on doing the little things I know I can do, and already being in shape obviously helps.... It's a tough transition, but it's definitely one I can make.

Speaking of Coach Shafer, what's the main difference between the basketball coach and his soccer counterpart, Peter Albright?

The respect level is the same for both of them, but personality-wise, Coach Albright is more like a big teddy bear, and coach Shafer is more business-like, more like a typical head coach. With Coach Albright, just the way the team is run, it's more buddy-buddy.

If you could bring one of your soccer teammates onto the basketball team with you, which one would it be?

That's funny, because I actually coached my soccer team in (intramural) basketball, and they're all terrible.... Hmmm... I'd probably have to say Mooks (Melissa Alvarez Freeman). I think she played basketball in high schools. Yeah, I'd take Mooks.

How about a basketball player for your soccer team?

Rachael or Sam (the Bilney twins), definitely. Apparently they were pretty good in soccer in high school, and I've kicked the ball around with them here. Rachael can juggle better than I can.

The first person you called upon learning you were A-10 Offensive Player of the Year was -

My parents (Eric and Debbie). I called them as soon as I got in my room. My mom might have cried a little.

Anyone call you Rebecca?

No one, except my mom sometimes when I'm in trouble.

On those rare occasions when you're not involved with soccer, basketball or schoolwork, what are you doing?

Napping, or just hanging out with my teammates. I also do a lot of stuff with my church (Christian Life Worship Center). That's one of the main reasons I came to Richmond, to stay connected to my church.

You chose Richmond because of the church?

Well, there were three things I was looking for in a college, and I wasn't going to settle for anything less - I wanted to play soccer and basketball, Division I, and I wanted to keep going to my church.

Must be a pretty special place.

My family was there the first Sunday it started, eight or nine years ago, and we've watched it grow from about 30 people to 100. I just wouldn't be the person I am without that church and the people there that support me.

You're the star of the soccer team; you come off the bench in basketball. Is that tough on the ego?

It is a little difficult, especially this year. But I'm a firm believer that every role on the team is important, and I'm hoping to build on mine as the season progresses.

I understand you like the TV show "Glee."

I like the songs in Glee.

Wait a minute. How do find time to watch TV?

DVR is a wonderful thing.

So do you sing along with the Glee people?

I sing in my car. Before I came to college, I used to sing in the church. Now I just sing in the car.

What kind of music are you into?

Country. Like Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum...and somebody you probably have heard of, Francesca Battastelli, I really like her. Oh, and Justin Bieber.

Really? I thought all his fans were about 12 years old.

No! He's awesome. I love the movie, love his songs...they're on my gameday playlist.

Guess you can find Beliebers everywhere. Finally, I know you've only been on the team for about 15 minutes, but what's your outlook on Spiders women's hoops this season?

Well, we're really young, but that's almost a blessing in disguise because we're all kind of learning together, growing together. We're definitely going to be good in the future. And under the leadership of Abby and Sam and Rachael, I think we'll be good this year, too.

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