Q&A with Kennedy Byxbee
Junior infielder Kennedy Byxbee and the Virginia softball team hits the road again for its fourth tournament of the season. The Cavaliers will take on five teams in the 2011 Citrus Classic at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, including top-ranked Alabama on Sunday. Byxbee, a native of Paradise Valley, Ariz., recently caught up with VirginiaSports.com to chat about the season, the team’s upcoming trip to Florida, her improvement from a year ago and her career aspirations.
Question: What were the highs and lows from the Cathedral City Classic last weekend in California?
Byxbee: The highlight was we won three out of our five games and that was our goal. I think a lot of people weren’t expecting us to do that well. But we belong with those teams. We can hang with the top teams in the country. I think the low was that maybe we just had a couple of nerves. But once we got them out and played our game we were ok. When we stick to what we know – that’s all we need to do to be successful.
Question: The team faces another tough field this weekend in the Citrus Classic. What do you gain from playing those quality teams this early in the season?
Byxbee: I think it’s great. When we realize we can stick with those teams it does nothing but boost our confidence. It also gives us a lot of energy going into ACC play. We know if we can stick with the teams that were in the College World Series last year we can stick with anyone.
Question: Are you looking forward to being on the Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World?
Byxbee: I have never been to Florida! I am very excited. I heard the facilities are amazing. It think it’s going to be so much fun. The atmosphere is going to be what makes it.
Question: How would you describe the team chemistry this season?
Byxbee: We are a young team but we have very good chemistry. Everyone not only gets along on the field well but off the field too. We have really good leaders in our three seniors – Javy, Lo and Pitt – and they do a good job of keeping us focused. But being friends helps us on the field and allows is to have a lot more fun since we spend so much time together.
Question: How would you say you have improved from first arriving at UVa a year and a half ago until now?
Byxbee: Last year the hardest part for me being a transfer was getting acclimated to not only the campus, but to the team. I was trying to prove myself to my teammates that I belonged here, especially considering I didn’t play softball my first year. Even though I was a sophomore I had to earn my spot on this team. My role this year has changed completely. I am way more comfortable in practice and games.
Question: How has the team improved over that span?
Byxbee: Last year we proved to a lot of people we were a good team. This year it’s our goal to prove that it wasn’t a fluke. We want to stay successful. One of biggest things of the transition was that we lost our very good clutch hitters – the middle of our lineup. This year, we are so fast and our game plan has changed because we don’t have to rely on our big hitters. We are a gritty team who gets on base.
Question: What is your major? Any future career aspirations?
Byxbee: I am a sociology major with a minor in media studies. I am thinking about law school after undergrad so that is an option. I am going to be interning this summer for Jimmy Kimmel Live in Los Angeles so I am really looking forward to that. One of my dreams is to work in the Dodgers front office.
Question: What has been your favorite class at UVa?
Byxbee: This is a tough one. I have really enjoyed all my media studies classes. I took one with a focus on Latinos and one of the most fun things I did was writing a research paper of Manny Ramirez.
Question: What do you like to do for fun?
Byxbee: We have team gatherings and play Just Dance 2 on the Wii. G (Giannina Cipolloni) is obviously the best dancer on our team, but Alexa (Martinez) thinks she is good. We also have created a reality show about Alexa. We made up a theme song and sing it to her when she gets on base.
Place on Grounds: Bleeker St. Café in McLeod Hall
Food: Chipotle burrito
Movie: “Girl Happy”
Book: “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving
Subject to Study: J’Adore le Francais
Place to Travel: Home to my family in Arizona and California
Music Artists: Bob Marley, The Wailers, and The Beatles
Song: “PYT” by Michael Jackson
TV Show: “Chelsea Lately”
Candy: Peanut butterM&M’s