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Ataira Franklin (Bowie, Md.), a rising sophomore on the women’s basketball team, recently checked in with VirginiaSports.com to give a first-hand update on the team’s voluntary summer workouts and her transition from being a first-year to a second-year.

Hello Cavalier fans! A typical day in the life … we have been waking up at 5 a.m., making sure to get some source of energy. Sometimes that’s fruit, yogurt, whatever. You need to wake up for breakfast and get your mind right for your voluntary workouts. Morning workouts, I mean all workouts in general but morning workouts especially are really, really intense. We do mobility and flexibility exercises with Coach [Mike] Curtis (head strength and conditioning coach for men’s and women’s basketball) where we are trying to train our bodies to do the basketball motions that we are supposed to be doing.

Then we’ll head out to the court and do the movement training and we actually had done some of that with him last year but not as in-depth as we do now. We do the movement training, lots of patterns and lots of cuts. It’s kind of re-teaching us how to do the things we thought we already knew how to do. How to take off and land, all those kinds of things. Then we’re back in the weight room for the fun part – the most intense part – where we have all the iso’s and for us it’s really important for us to be talking and encouraging each other because it’s pretty new for everybody.

Coach Curtis is getting to know us and we’re getting to know him and the things that he wants us to do. We have to buy into it because everything is completely different. The workouts are really intense – any weight I think I gain I probably sweat it all out by the end of the workout.

After that, we head into our practice gym. We get our shots up so we’re not just learning certain movements and certain patterns, we’re actually implementing them on the court.

Tuesdays and Thursdays … those are our fun days where we get to play pick-up. Then of course the not-so-fun part which is conditioning. Once again, it teaches us to communicate more and keep each other encouraged.

To condition after pick-up is tough because we’re already tired so you have to have that extra push. Coach Curtis always tells us you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. All the things that we do are definitely teaching us that.

I wouldn’t say I feel like a veteran, but given my personality you can tell I’m a talker. Last year was more of a learning experience and now since we’re in such a big transition it’s important for someone to be talking at all times. So if it’s not Chelsea or Ari or China, then it has to be me. If somebody’s not having such a good day then someone else has to pick it up.

With the coaching staff, they are on us a lot about leadership and about getting to know each other on and off the court. Somebody needs to hold everybody accountable and everyone is trying to do their part with that.

If that means running harder, or sitting out at pick-up and getting the water, I need to make sure I’m doing my part. This year for me, it happens to be talking more.

I have to point out Kelsey Wolfe, just because she was working so hard with Coach Curtis doing extra workouts even last year. She’s kind of ahead of all of us in that respect. She’s ahead of the game and you can tell on the court and everything. She’s making strides and gaining confidence.

Me, China and Chelsea are in the ‘Get Big Crew’ trying to gain muscle!

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