Q&A with Lauren McCaskey
Junior Lauren McCaskey and the Virginia softball team welcome Towson for a doubleheader at 4 p.m. Wednesday before the Cavaliers continue conference play this weekend at sixth-ranked Georgia Tech. McCaskey recently caught up with VirginiaSports.com to chat about ways to have fun during the season, how she’s grown as a player and her favorite class at UVa.
Question: How would you describe the season thus far?
McCaskey: The one word I would pick would be awesome. We had a lot of ups and downs in the beginning but everything is really coming together for us as a team and the ACC season thus far has been fantastic. We are only on the up right now, and everyone is staying focused and getting along, so it’s been fun so far.
Question: Is it challenging only being on the up? How do you maintain it?
McCaskey: We’re not always only on the up. It does get challenging when the downs come because they do happen. But it is all about keeping a level head, and it is all about working together. We all help keep each other focused on the main goal of the season. And keeping each other level headed and knowing that it does get better and working hard and staying positive is important.
Question: Would you say you’ve learned from the losses?
McCaskey: Definitely. Especially having big wins this season, you realize that you always have to work hard to maintain the ups and the losses stink, but it helps you to recheck where you are and get your mindset back into the game.
Question: What was is it like coming off this weekend where you just beat JMU 5-4 and then took two of three against Carolina?
McCaskey: I don’t even know how to describe it. It was almost like a dream and it happened so fast. Friday night’s game was one of the most exciting games I’ve played in my two years here. It was unreal, being a part of that and the whole team effort. Having Sunday off we all got to hang out and relax, and we all were thinking, ‘That just happened.’ We don’t take it for granted and we don’t let those effect us because we still have so much work left to do, but it is still exciting to see all the hard work get us here from where we came from, especially for the third and fourth years who get to see what we are doing now with it.
Question: It seems like you are finding a way to have fun this year and win. How are you able to do that?
McCaskey: It helps a lot having a really great coaching staff who makes sure that we keep the fun in the game, because that is what sports are all about. Obviously competing and winning are important, but in the end you have to be having fun. We’ve come up with little scenarios that we’ve been making like coach Heidi dying her hair and Alexa (Martinez) will be dying her hair this week, making coach (Schmidt) wear a pink Easter sweater and coach H getting a mohawk, it just keeps it light. We are all very serious and focused but having fun just makes it so much better.
Question: What was it like staring down the third base line to see your coach wearing a pink sweater?
McCaskey: I was the one who had to also do coach Heidi’s bump it (hairdo) on Friday night, and luckily we won because if we would had to have a serious talking after the game I wouldn’t have been able to stop laughing. Looking down there and seeing the pink, we were focused, but when we each got a second it was still funny the entire game. And now we keep it in the dugout at all times and it will be on every trip with us.
Question: How do you think you have grown as a player from now since you first started two and a half years ago?
McCaskey: I have grown a lot and with some of the rough seasons that we’ve had – it takes a real mental toll on players. This year I’ve done a good job of having a short-term memory and staying positive and not letting that get me down. I’m really in it for the team and not as an individual player.
Question: Are you more comfortable being back at first base after being moved to second most of last year?
McCaskey: I have played almost every position, other than pitcher, which maybe I’ll make my debut here soon in that position! I playedfirst base for my travel ball team for three years, so I feel very comfortable where ever coach needs to put me.
Question: What do you like to do for fun when you aren’t playing softball or studying?
McCaskey: I don’t get too much free time, but I love catching up on sleep. I am a huge Law and Order fan, and it is always on TV so whenever I can get a mini-marathon I do. I am also a huge coloring book fan, I have a Dora the Explorer one with a 64-pack crayon box and it comes on all my road trips, and it’s actually really therapeutic. I recommend coloring for all you stressed-out people. And right now with the warm weather I’ve just been outside as much as possible.
Question: What are you majoring in? What are your career aspirations?
McCaskey: I am a sociology major. As for career aspirations, I am still trying to find out what I want to do with my life. There are a couple things; I would love to go into television broadcasting. I’d love to work with kids, maybe a high school guidance counselor, I don’t even know. The nice thing about a sociology major is that you have a broad spectrum for what you can do with it.
Question: What has been your favorite class at UVa?
McCaskey: I took a Dracula class last year, it was a Slovak folklore class, and it was about vampires. It was really, really cool. The professor was one of the funniest guys I’ve met. We watched I think nine different Dracula films about vampires and their roles in society, it was crazy. I wrote my 20-page paper on Twilight, I am a HUGE Twilight fan, definitely on Team Jacob.