Oct. 29, 2013
Kalysta White is a sophomore defensive specialist for the Gopher Volleyball team. Hailing from Laguna Beach, Calif., White earned her first letter last year and has seen action in eight matches this season. Get to know White in this short question/answer session.
Q: What led to your decision to come to Minnesota?
A: I chose to come to Minnesota, because I wanted a completely new experience. I wanted to experience a new state, a new town and get out of my California bubble. Then I met the players and the coaches here and it was a great fit. I just loved it and felt like it was a good place for me.
Q: You and Alexandra Palmer are related. What's the connection and was it nice to have that with another player coming into the program?
A: Yes, Alexandra and I are cousins. We played at the same club and we played at the same high school. She took me to my first day of high school and also took me to my first high school tryouts. Having her here is like having an older sister on the team. We both came here the same year and we both went through the same thing here in terms of experiencing our first winter together. It's nice because if I ever have a problem, with volleyball, school or anything, I feel comfortable going to her. I can do that with others on the team, but because she's family, it's just obviously nice to have her around.
Q: Your step dad, Kenny Sullivan, has helped out with USA Volleyball. What was his role with them and how has that helped you in your volleyball career?
A: He helped out during the Olympic period with team building and the mental aspect or mental toughness of the game. He's been able to give me that same advice on my mental game and helped me with other situations. He's been able to help me in that same aspect in terms of pressure situations and how to handle with it.
Q: You are a defensive specialist and sometimes have to come in at a moment's notice. Previously talking about that mental part of the game, how do you prepare for that?
A: That role is difficult because you're coming in cold and there's a lot of pressure to make that serve and play defense. When I go in, I think `I got this' and take a deep breath. I know that I have to go in and do something for my team and make something happen. I just have to focus on bettering my serve.
Q: With your family being in California, do they get to come to many matches?
A: They follow all the games, either on gametracker or they watch it on the Big Ten Network, but so far my mom has been out to two matches this season. They always get out to a couple of the games and it's nice to have someone in the stands.
Q: You're interested in sports management. How did you come to that conclusion?
A: I couldn't imagine a life without sports so I definitely want to work in sports. I like a lot of sports, not just volleyball. Right now I'm in an intro to sports management class and there's people that come in and talk to our class. It's interesting to hear them talk to our group and it got me interested in their jobs and just started talking to others in the athletics department and it has helped me figure out what I'd like to do more. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do, but I like the social media aspect and like the idea of promoting athletes through that.
Q: Minnesota is back at home after two weeks of Big Ten road travel. Talk about the ability to play at home for a while.
A: It's so nice to be back home. Going on the road is fun to be with the team and experience new gyms and new places. But, being at home is so nice to have all of our fans backing us. It's so nice to be able to sleep in our own beds, have Bill and Frida cook our meals for us is great. I don't have to worry about missing any classes and can get caught up. It's nice to be home for a while. It was tough to balance all of that last year as a freshman, but this year has been a little easier. With traveling, you have to use every possible moment to study and get your work done when you can.
Q: You're a returner on the team. If you had to give advice to some of the freshmen, what would you give them?
A: For school, I would say get a planner. Have everything written down and check it off when you get it done. For volleyball, you have nothing to lose, so go hard. Hugh (McCutcheon) always tells us you only have four years and don't make the last be your best. Every single day in practice and when you have a chance to get into a match, take your opportunities and don't take them for granted. Go hard on every single play and in practice or a game and do your best.