Gopher Spotlight: Daly Santana

Go Gophers! Freshman Daly Santana
Go Gophers!
Freshman Daly Santana
Go Gophers!

Nov. 12, 2012

Daly Santana is in her first season with the Golden Gophers. A native of Corozal, Puerto Rico, Santana ranks third in the conference in service aces. Posting 48 on the season and four against Wisconsin earlier this year, she also ranks in the top 10 at the NCAA level. A Gopher starter and a six-rotation player, Santana ranks fourth on the team in kills (219) and third in digs (245). Here’s a short question/answer session with Daly.

Q: What was your recruitment process like, especially as an international student?
A: I remember receiving an e-mail from coach Laura Bush asking me if I was interested in playing for Minnesota. I was looking for opportunities to come here to the United States to play volleyball. It was a great opportunity for me, Minnesota and playing for Hugh McCutcheon, all of it together. After the e-mail, Laura came to Puerto Rico to watch a practice or two. After that I just decided to come here. I went on a visit and just loved it. I loved the people, the teammates, just everything; so I decided to come here.

Q: It is very easy to recognize the strength of your serve. How much time and effort does it take to develop it?
A: A lot. I have been practicing that serve for probably three to four years now. I remember my first time trying to hit it and I couldn’t, it was just crazy. But, I have been practicing a lot and now here, Hugh has helped me to improve it in a way where I could control it better. If I have a good toss or a bad toss, I am still able to control it. It is good to have him there. But yes, it takes a lot of time and a lot of practice.

Q: You are halfway through your first collegiate season. What has been your perception of being a Gopher so far?
A: It is awesome. I call my mom all the time and tell her everything that happens every day, because it is different each day. Every time we play here at home or on the road it is just awesome. It is a new experience with every team because every university is different so you get those experiences. When you get back home to Minnesota it is just awesome being here with all the fans. I had no idea that it would be like this. I knew it was going to be very different from Puerto Rico, but I did not know that it was going to be so awesome.

Q: You have already been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week this year. Did you predict coming in how successful you would be?
A: No, actually. I came here not knowing if I was going to play or not. I came here with my mind set that I would do the best that I could and would help the team whether that was on or off the court. However, I have had the opportunity to play, and it has been awesome to be a part of the Gophers.

Q: Minnesota is different from Puerto Rico. What have been the biggest changes?
A: I would say the food, weather, and talking English all the time. It is hard, really hard, to talk English all the time. And then I would say the food because it is totally different than in Puerto Rico. My mom is here this week so she has been cooking for me, so that makes me really happy. And then the cold weather. I suppose I have been preparing myself the best that I can, but I do not know what it coming. And lastly the English is just weird for me. There are not many people who speak Spanish here and it is just like “ahhhh!”

Q: What has been the best team bonding experience thus far that has allowed you to get so comfortable with your new teammates?
A: Everything. Just the way all my teammates are, both on and off the court. You just feel comfortable with them because you are always around them, talking to them. Even though the kind of make fun of my accent sometimes, we make fun of each other and it makes me feel comfortable. I am just having fun and being happy all the time. That it just how they are; they are great teammates, I just love them. It’s one of the reasons why I came here because I knew it was going to be a great place to be with great people.