Q&A with Nicole Koren
Senior Nicole Koren and the Virginia softball team finished second in the conference standings and head to the ACC Championship this week at Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers will battle the host Hokies, a No. 7 seed, at 2:30 p.m. Friday in the second of four games scheduled for the day, all of which can been seen on ACC Select. Koren, a native of Warminster, Pa., recently caught up with VirginiaSports.com to talk about the season, upcoming postseason play, her favorite pair of earrings and her plans for next year.
Question: What has this season been like for you?
Koren: This season has been great. I think we have proved not only that we deserve to be in the postseason, but how much we have improved from last season.
Question: What has finishing second in the ACC meant to the team?
Koren: We were more excited than surprised, I think, because we knew it was coming. We just hadn’t been able to put it all together the last few years. We are excited it all came together this year and that all our hard work is paying off.
Question: What changes now that the postseason is beginning?
Koren: We just need to make sure we stay focused each and every pitch. If you have a bad inning, or lose your concentration, you have to pick it right back up. If we’re down in a game we know we can come back. We have proven that this year.
Question: How have you improved from the time you stepped on the field as a first year?
Koren: A lot of it comes with experience and being put in pressure situations. It’s all about gaining confidence and not getting in my head too much. We have faced good teams and good pitchers and I am able to stay more leveled throughout the season. There aren’t as many ups and downs.
Question: What have you improved on the most?
Koren: I think I have improved most on making quick adjustments to pitchers and not getting so discouraged if I strike out my first at-bat.
Question: What’s the story behind your pink heart earrings?
Koren: I don’t really know why I wear them! Originally I had pearls and I lost them. So I have all of these heart earrings from this store – I don’t remember which one – and basically I keep wearing them because if they get lost, I still have more. I have lost like three pair – we found one on the bottom of Mel’s (Mitchell) cleat. They get lost, but I have backups.
Question: What is next for you?
Koren: I am going to take a year off at this point but I applied for a bunch of conservation corps since I am environmental science major. So even though I am taking time off I still want to get some experience within my major, possibly do some research, and then apply to grad school.
Question: Do you have a career goal or dream job?
Koren: I am honestly not sure right now. I just want to be doing something that I enjoy.
Question: What do you like to do for fun?
Koren: I like to hang out with my friends in the small amount of free time I have. I have lots of lunches with people planned throughout the week – I force myself to plan ahead. I like making time for my friends I don’t get to see as much. Of course I hang out with my teammates all the time. If I get really stressed, I will draw, which is not that cool but I do it.
Question: What advice would you give future Virginia softball players?
Koren: They should definitely not take it for granted. Everyone says your four years of college fly by. And you think somewhere in your second year: “I still have two more years waking up with Ed (Nordenschild, the strength coach) at 6 a.m.” But it goes fast. Enjoy it as much as possible and don’t let the little things stress you out. In the long run, those little things won’t matter.
Question: What are you going to miss the most?
Koren: My teammates for sure, and just having that closeness. I know when I come back even next year, it won’t be the same. All the inside jokes and knowing everything that is going on in their lives – sometimes too much. That general feeling of being on a team. It will be the first time I haven’t been on a team since I was five. It’s going to be weird.