Freshman Kate Verhoff is giving the USF volleyball team (3-18) a reason to be hopeful.
Born in Elyria, Ohio, Verhoff was a four-year letter winner in both basketball and volleyball at Elyria High School.
For the Bulls, Verhoff has been a large part of the offense and leads the team in assists (707) and service aces (25). Coach Claire Lessinger calls Verhoff the “quarterback” of her team, and for the volleyball team to improve in the coming years, they will need Verhoff’s leadership and attitude on the court.
Verhoff sat down with Asst. Sports Editor Tony Marquis to discuss her hometown, her three older sisters, basketball and LeBron James.
TM: Talk about your hometown of Elyria, Ohio.
KV: It’s not really small; it’s a little over 10,000. A pretty good sports town – they’re pretty fanatic there about volleyball and basketball.
TM: Your sisters together played lots of volleyball and basketball. Was there lots of competition between you and them?
KV: Definitely. There were a lot of driveway fights and bloody noses and elbows.
TM: So did you take the brunt of the punishment?
KV: Basically, because I was the little one. I was also the one who had to chase the balls down the street.
TM: So you’re the baby of the bunch. Did they pick on you a lot?
KV: They didn’t necessarily pick on me, but they just wanted to make me better. That’s the way I took it anyway. (Laughs.)
TM: Where did your sisters and you get most of your sports influences?
KV: My father. He was always my coach in basketball. Prior to coming here I was going to play basketball. My volleyball came from my sisters, because my oldest sister wanted to try something new and then we all got involved.
TM: Was it hard standing out?
KV: Definitely. I wanted to try to accomplish different things that my sisters didn’t accomplish. It was hard.
TM: What about basketball? What position did you play?
KV: I was moved around a lot, because I was bigger than a lot of the guards. So I played point guard and shooting guard, and if there was someone way smaller, I would play post.
TM: You said your town is a big basketball town. Do you have a favorite NBA team?
KV: My sister used to date LeBron (James), so I’m a big Cavaliers fan. He used to come over to the house.
TM: So you could call him up, and we could hang out?
KV: (Laughs.) Um, they haven’t talked for a while. I think she may still have his number, but I don’t. I have his best friend’s number.
TM: One of his posse? What do you like to do outside of volleyball and basketball?
KV: I like to shop and go to the movies, hang out with my roommates Nakia (Williams) and Holly, I guess. Most of the time, when I get free time it’s with academics or eating. (Laughs.)
TM: Favorite movie?
KV: The Notebook. I just liked it; it was a good love story. I like scary movies, too. My favorite scary movie is probably It.
TM: I hate clowns. How did you choose USF?
KV: I wanted to go somewhere warm. Claire (Lessinger) saw me in Kentucky, so it was between two Ohio schools and USF. The opportunity here with medicine – which is what I want to do – was much better than other schools.
TM: So would you like to do something with medicine?
KV: I’m not exactly sure. It’s between criminology and being a doctor. That’s what I’m looking into right now.
TM: You’re just a freshman. Do you feel like there’s a lot of pressure on you?
KV: At first I was really overwhelmed with everything because I’ve never been thrown into a situation where I’ve had to learn everything all over again. In high school, I was in a more comfortable situation.
TM: How was your record in high school?
KV: While I was there I believe we were 91-14.
TM: That’s got to be a big difference coming here.
KV: I’m not a loser, so I hate losing. I’ve never – my teams have always been pretty good. It’s different. It’s a learning experience, and we’re a really young team.
TM: You’re new here, so what’s something a lot of your teammates wouldn’t know about you? Besides that your sister dated LeBron.
KV: I don’t know. I’m pretty open with my teammates. They make fun of me because I tell random stories. Probably that my sister dated a pro football player – Jamel White.
TM: The same sister?
KV: No, another sister. I ran into his new Mercedes with my car.
TM: Is that why they broke up?
KV: No. (Laughs.)
TM: What’s your most embarrassing moment on the court?
KV: Probably in high school. My sister’s senior year – my freshman year – I shanked a pass, and she grabbed me by the neck and just ripped my entire uniform in the front.
TM: Now you’ve had your own Janet Jackson moment.
KV: Yeah. (Laughs.)