Redshirt sophomore Nicole Koren and the Virginia softball team opens the home portion of its schedule this weekend with a three-game series against George Washington. A doubleheader is slated for 1 p.m. Saturday with the final game set for 1 p.m. Sunday at the newly-renovated The Park. Koren recently sat down with VirginiaSports.com to talk about being named the ACC Player of the Week, her thoughts on the new field, her interest in art and which Olympian she is sometimes mistaken for.
Question: How does it feel to be named the ACC Player of the Week?
Koren: It feels pretty good. I know it has been a little while since the last time a Virginia player won it, so it’s a nice testament to our team and how hard we have all been working.
Question: Are you looking forward to finally playing at home this weekend?
Koren: Yes, definitely. We’ve been traveling a lot, and even though I like traveling, I’m excited to play at home on our brand new field. I hope everyone comes out to see us.
Question: What do you think of the new field?
Answer: I think the dirt and grass are the best parts, really the surface in general. It is nice and flat so the ball doesn’t pop up in your face, and you can actually see the entire field from the stands, which is awesome. There is an awesome view and the scoreboard looks great too.
Question: Are you surprised with how well the team has been playing?
Koren: I’m not surprised because we’ve been doing really well in practice for the last couple weeks. We’ve really come together extremely fast and we are having a lot of fun.
Question: What do you think the biggest difference is?
Koren: I think that we are a lot stronger mentally. We have been working on that a lot and it has really come through.
Question: What is the key to you hitting so well after sitting out all of last season?
Koren: I think a year of sitting and watching really helped me a lot. Watching the game is completely different than playing and it gives you a different perspective. It also helped to mold my mental perspective of the game. I feel great at the plate since I am going after [the ball] rather than being defensive about it.
Question: How did you get started playing softball and what do you love about it?
Koren: I started playing when I was five with my dad because he has played his entire life. I love pretty much anything that has to do with competition so I of course love softball. I love that that I can completely change a game with one thing one swing, one pitch can change the outcome.
Question: Why did you choose to come to Virginia?
Koren: I chose really late in October of my senior year. I had actually planned on going to another school that was just starting a softball program, but when Virginia called I came down to take a look and immediately fell in love with it.
Question: What do you do for fun when you’re not playing softball?
Koren: I like to hang out with my friends and I like to draw and read for pleasure. I’ve been drawing pretty much since birth because my grandparents were both painters. I really like to draw for my family members. The last thing I did was a sunset view of a lake with mountains for my mom with oil paints.
Question: What is your major?
Koren: I am majoring in environmental science with a minor in biology. I have always really liked the environment and I came into school wanting to major in biology but I wasn’t sure I wanted to be pre-med. I’m still thinking about it so I keep the biology there. I think biology will help open more doors in environmental science as well in terms of ecology. I am hoping to get some fieldwork done with environmental science this summer to figure out what I want to do. I think I will probably focus on ecology.
Question: Are you commonly mistaken for a certain famous pitcher?
Koren: I am commonly mistaken as Jennie Finch who obviously I’m not nearly as good as but it’s comical. On the way to Vegas, a security guard at the airport tried to tell me that he had seen me on TV before and I was just like, Oh, not again.’
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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