Gophersports.com recently sat down with Taylor Carico to talk the upcoming season at Minnesota, how she will fit in the team and what prompted her decision to transfer from USC. Carico was a Second-Team All-American in 2007 and finished second on the USC career assists list in her three seasons with the program.
(Gophersports.com will be talking to the incoming freshmen and the returning players on the team throughout the month of July. If there are any questions you would like to ask any of those players feel free to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and they may be used as part of the interview.)
Gophersports.com: Talk about the difference of transferring from USC to the University of Minnesota, and what made your decision to transfer to Minnesota?
Taylor Carico: “The Twin-Cities has an amazing community, and I wanted to get out of California and experience something different and go to a place I had never been in my life. I have lived 20 minutes away from USC, and I have never had the opportunity to go further away from home and not being able to come home every weekend. This is an exciting experience to play in a different area, with a great volleyball community for a great program.”
GS: What were the determining factors that led you to choosing the University of Minnesota, and what made it a good fit?
TC: “Well first of all Rachel (Hartmann) who was the setter last year graduated and that left an opening for an experienced setter. This was one of the key parts of my decision. It also helped that Minnesota was far away from home and a place that I have never been before. They also have a very good athletic program here, and a great coaching staff that I got along with very well right away.”
GS: Talk about your role as a senior, but also as a transfer who is adjusting to a new team.
TC: “It is nice coming in as a senior because we do have more experience than the freshman and the younger players. We have had the benefit of a lot of different types of experiences, including key matches in the NCAA Tournament. However, it is still an adjustment period because playing at a different program there are different things you have to learn, different set calls and also the different things the coaches want from us. Also it is very important that we learn how to interact with every player individually as well as the coaches.”
GS: What have you learned about yourself as a player in your three years at USC, and what benefit does your experience in the Final Four in 2007 give you?
TC: “What I bring to the Minnesota program is experience on a lot of different levels. I hope to bring in some of my knowledge about the game, the understanding of it and my consistency on and off the court. I also hope to be able to help the younger players unite as a team. I know as a freshman it can be overwhelming coming into a big volleyball program. I just want to be available to help make the adjustment for some of the freshmen as easy as possible.”
GS: As a setter, you are obviously in a leadership role right from the start. What have you done to get used to playing with some of the returning players on this team to this point?
TC: “As a setter, there is no way around it you have to be a leader on and off the court. Even though I am transferring in as a senior and am new to the program, it is the responsibility of a setter to help lead the team. It does not matter if I was here the past three years, I have to act act like I have been here. I also need to know where all the other players are when I am on the court. It helps that I am here this summer before the season starts to interact with the players more, and play more matches them so we can get use to playing each other. You have the core of the team here right now, and there will be more talented players to add to the mix when fall practice begins. It will be better for the team because the adjustment will be easier when we start doing preseason practice.”
GS: When did you figure out you were transferring to Minnesota, and how long have you been here to work with the returning players?
TC: “After my season was over at USC last year is when I thought about transferring to somewhere different, and I got my release from the school. I started looking into other programs to see if they needed a setter and what the level of the program was. I came on an official visit to Minnesota in the middle of February, and then I committed the end of the month. I got here on June 12 and started summer school on June 15. My mom stayed up here for the weekend and I have been ever since.”
GS: What are some of the individual and team goals that you have for this season?
TC: “As a team we want to get to the Final Four. I was there my sophomore year at USC and you done realize how difficult it is to get back until you have done it or competed for it. A lot of outsiders do not understand how hard it is to get there, how many great matches you have to play and what a great team you have to be on a consistent basis. For this season with it being my senior year, I want to help take my team back to the Final Four, and I want to play at an All-American level at the setter position.”
GS: What can you do to set the tone to get this team to the Final Four since you are the only player on the team with experience at that level?
TC: “The main thing is leading on the court, and it all begins during practices having the intensity from every player to every practice with every drill to have that same intensity. Every match is important, but if you lose one it is not the end of the world. It really is all about how you do at the end of the season, and about your team getting better and improving. At the end of the season you look at the goals and see if you met them when you are determining a successful season.”
GS: How excited are to begin the fall season?
TC: “I am very excited to start the season. We are playing a lot of very good opponents home and away. I am excited to play in the Sports Pavilion for the first time and to have the gym all charged up as a team. I feel that this school has a great tradition and a lot of past success like USC does so I am not leaving behind that much tradition. I am very excited to play with all of my new teammates and for my new coaches.”
GS: Have you and Megan Wilson established a bond in terms of sharing the experience that you are both seniors with a lot of experience in a new program?
TC: “I have not talked too specifically with her about that, but we are on the same page in the sense that this is our last year that we can play college volleyball and do great things to help the team. It is very helpful to have another transfer senior around the same age, because we can both help each other along and also push another.”