Fifteen minutes: Conner sports comedy

By Gus Bode

While Jasmine Conner had 53 blocks and 67 kills for the SIU volleyball team last season, her coach said another valuable contribution has been her humor.

Conner, a junior middle blocker, said she was excited about a profile in the Daily Egyptian’s ’15 Minutes’ series. Although she gives off a shy, humble vibe, she said she had always thought it would be cool to get to do one herself.

Daily Egyptian: What is a question for yourself that you didn’t see asked in the other articles?

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Jasmine Conner: ‘A question that you would ask me? Ask me about the pre-game ritualsthat I do.’

DE: OK then, what are some of your pre-game rituals that you do?

JC: ‘I always wash my hands before a game. I always listen to my iPod – it doesn’t matter what’s on, just a variety of songs for 10 or 15 minutes to calm down,’ Conner said. And her kneepads are labeled left and right and always worn accordingly, always. ‘If they are switched it just doesn’t feel right,’ she said with a laugh. ‘I feel if I change them, something bad might happen.’

DE: How did you find your start in volleyball?

JC: ‘I actually tried out in seventh and eighth grade and didn’t make the team, and then I tried out in high school and I made it,’ she said. Conner quickly proved herself and was already playing varsity by her sophomore year.

‘Starting my junior year I ended up playing club volleyball,’ Conner said. Club volleyball allowed Conner to travel with a team competing to make it to nationals and brought her under the scope of SIU. ‘There were four girls in my position and actually I was the last one. The coaches here saw me during warm up. They said I could be molded into a pretty good player, that’s why I’m here, that’s how I got here.’

DE: How are you feeling about the upcoming season?

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JC: ‘I’m excited for the season. I think we’ve got some good girls coming in and the team we have now is really good and we’ve just been working hard through the spring and we’re going to keep working hard this summer.’

DE: Why do you volleyball players have a huddle afterevery play?

JC: ‘It helps when you do something well and you’re excited and you go away (from the huddle) and your adrenaline is pumping and you’re like; ‘Yeah!’ You’re cheering and everything, so it does help to come together after a good point or a bad point to refocus and say, ‘OK, that plays over, let’s move on to the next one, you’ll get the next one,’ and so we just really encourage eachother with that.’

DE: Is there a moment of regret from last season that will haunt you for a while?

JC: Conner hardly hesitated in recounting the time they nearly beat a top-seeded team saying, ‘We play three out of five, and we actually won the first (two) games, and we’re like, ‘Yes guys, one more, we can do this,’ … We won the first (two) games and they ended up coming back and winning, and they beat us, and we’re like, ‘How did that just happen?’ … Just knowing that we could have had that one more game, that will always stick with me.’ She laughed it off and said, ‘I wish I would have known what was going through everyone’s head.’

DE: Are there any upcoming road trips for you and the team?

JC: ‘We are going to Florida, I’m so excited. I forgot where in Florida but, for our season opener, for our non-conference games we’re going to go down to Florida.’ She said the seniors usually get to decide together where they want to go and she’s extremely excited about their choice. ‘I wonder where I’ll want to go when I’m a senior? Maybe California, or somewhere with a big school because, when you play the big schools, that’s how you get better.’

While the coach may not work with the team through the summer, it does not mean they are resting on their laurels. Conner said she is up at the crack of dawn several times a week working out and staying in shape and perfecting her game while at the same time keeping up with the demands of school.

DE: With all this work, is there a special treat – like a D.Q. Blizzard – that you reward yourself with?

JC: ‘There’s actually a pizza place called Quatro’s, which I love, so usually if I say, ‘Oh you did well in practice, you did well in the game. Go get yourself a Quatro’s, go ahead and treat yourself,” she said with a smile. ‘I love Quatro’s. I’ll order it two or three times a week. I’ve had to cut back, but yeah, I’ll definitely treat myself to Quatro’s or something if I do good.’

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