Volleyball

A conversation with star USC outside hitter Brooke Botkin

Annenberg Media spoke with Botkin about how she recovered from the COVID season and who inspires her on and off the court.

[One-sentence description of what this media is: "A photo of a vaccine site on USC campus" or "Gif of dancing banana". Important for accessibility/people who use screen readers.]

Graduate outside hitter Brooke Botkin has many accolades and experiences from throughout her volleyball career. She is a two-time all-Pac-12 team member and earned a spot on the 2018 AVCA All-America second team. In 2019, she played for the U.S. collegiate national team and also played for the A1 and A2 youth national team for three years.

Botkin is excited to be playing her final season at USC in a more traditional environment after a difficult 2020 season. This season she is able to showcase her leadership and teach the newcomers what USC volleyball is about on and off the court.

Annenberg Media: How is this season going for you? What was your mindset going into this season with the pandemic last year?

Botkin: This year’s different. We have so many new faces on the team, so we had a lot of grad transfers come in and a lot of freshmen join that are really big parts of our team. So we had to kind of get used to jelling with those new faces and these new people. We were excited about this year though because COVID is not as big of a deal as it was last year. We can have fans and people are getting vaccinated. Especially for seniors, we are able to have a normal year to wrap up our college careers.

How do you feel being a graduate senior?

It’s a pretty big role. I feel like you are one of the oldest on the team and you’ve been in the league now for five years. You really have to dominate with just your knowledge of the game and integrating freshmen and show them the ropes. You have been here the longest so you are supposed to know everything.

What struggles have you had to overcome from last year’s COVID season? What did you want to work on coming into the 2021 season, and what outcome do you expect for your team?

This year, the whole Pac-12 is really good. Every single team we play is a challenge and there is not an easy team that we face in the Pac-12. There is definitely an emphasis on, no one is the best. Anyone can beat you on any given day. My emphasis this year has been blocking. I really wanted to be a good blocker and help my team in that way. Also, I have been working hard on out-of-system hitting.

What does volleyball mean to you?

Volleyball has been my life. Everything that comes to my mind is just my life. It is the center of my world. I put all my effort into this sport. It’s where all my friends are and my relationships.

What is your favorite memory from being with USC volleyball?

I have a specific game that comes to mind. It was my sophomore year, and we played UCLA, and we swept them at home. I think one of the sets was like 25-8. It was really crazy, we played phenomenal. That game just sticks out to me. That’s one of my all-time favorite memories here being a USC Trojan.

Who is someone that inspires you on and off the court?

I would say both of my parents. I cannot pick. They have been my rock since I can remember. Every hard moment that I have faced at USC, my parents have been in my corner kind of guiding me through how to get through phases of my life, whether it be the happy or the hard moments. They are the most influential people in my life and in the five years that I have spent here at USC.

What are your plans after USC?

I definitely want to play professionally for maybe one or two years. We’re not allowed to talk to agents because I am an amateur, but they can talk to my coaches. My coaches do know that I want to play for about a year or two. They are helping me in that department with finding an agent and being open and responsive to the agents that reach out. Then after that, I am going to use my degree and see what jobs are available. Obviously use the Trojan family and its network since it is so large.

[Since there is not a professional volleyball league in the U.S., most players have to go overseas in order to play. Botkin is currently in the process of learning about the best place and league to play for after her USC volleyball career is over. When she finishes her professional career, she said she plans on using her sociology degree to find a job through the USC network.]