June 20, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
Been a busy few weeks around the Joyce Center, with our five individual camps now in the books and the first of our two sold-out team camps set to wrap up on Saturday. We had close to 1,000 young people come in for our individual camps, which included something for every age and skill level imaginable -- Co-Ed Day Camp (1st-6th grade), Hoops Camp (6th-11th grade), High Intensity Camp (for elite-level players in 8th-12th grade) and a pair of specialized camps led by our WNBA-veteran assistant coaches: the Versatile Post Camp (headed by fourth-year assistant coach Angie Potthoff) and our Ultimate Guard Camp (led by second-year assistant coach Niele Ivey). The team camps also have proven to be highly popular, with more than 50 high school teams (mostly varsity, but some junior varsity and freshmen) set to compete in each of the two camp sessions (the second one goes from June 30-July 2).
We mentioned freshmen, and we'd be remiss if we didn't talk about our incoming class at Notre Dame. The four freshmen -- Fraderica Miller, Natalie Novosel, Erica Solomon and Kellie Watson -- just wrapped up their first week of summer school and life on a college campus. And, as you might expect, there's been a bit of the "deer-in-the-headlights" look when it comes to finding their way around. But all four young ladies are quickly getting up to speed with things, including some quality time with their new teammates, both on and off the court. For a quick refresher on what the four of them accomplished in high school, check out our latest press release on their signings by clicking here.
Before we get to know the newest members of the Fighting Irish, just a quick reminder -- season ticket brochures will be going out soon and with three starters, and seven monogram winners back from last year's Sweet 16 team, the 2008-09 season has all the makings of being one to remember. And don't forget -- the Joyce Center has been selected as a host site for first- and second-round games in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, and Notre Dame is guaranteed to play at home once it's selected for the tournament. So those of you who sign up for season tickets will have priority when it comes to locking up tickets for the NCAA Tournament and cheering on the Irish all the way to the Sweet 16, the Final Four and another national championship.
Okay, now on to our freshman insider ... enjoy your summer and remember -- GO IRISH!!
Q&A WITH THE FIGHTING IRISH FRESHMAN CLASS
What number will you be wearing at Notre Dame?
Kellie Watson: 10
Erica Solomon: 1
Fraderica Miller: 12
Natalie Novosel: 21
What's your nickname on the court?
Erica: Rock (short for Raquel, her middle name)
Kellie: K-J (although that may be temporary ... any suggestions, Irish fans?)
Why did you choose to come to Notre Dame?
Kellie: I liked the atmosphere and I liked everyone here, especially the staff and players and everything. And it is Notre Dame, after all.
Erica: I decided to come at the beginning of my senior year. I liked the school because when I got injured (torn ACL as a junior), a lot of coaches from other schools backed off of me. Coach McGraw and the rest of the coaching staff stuck with me and asked how my rehab was going, which showed me that they're not only about basketball. They're concerned about our well-being, both on and off the court.
Fraderica: Same as Kellie. It's Notre Dame, and I really liked the school. The people, the coaches and the players, were great.
Natalie: It just had everything I was looking for - the tradition, teammates and the coaching staff. I just felt really comfortable. A lot of times, I'd be talking to Coach McGraw on the phone and we'd spend only a few minutes talking about basketball and the rest of the time talking about other things. That showed me that she really cared and I felt very at home with everything.
Have you given any thought to what you might want to major in at Notre Dame?
Natalie: I'd like to get into pre-professional studies and science, because I'm hoping to work in something like kinesiology.
What would you like to do when your basketball career is over?
Kellie: I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but that's a lot of years to spend in school.
Erica: I'd like to be an athletic trainer.
Fraderica: I've always wanted to model. But I've also thought about coaching or maybe something else in sports, like marketing or advertising for a professional team.
Natalie: I'm kind of leaning towards being a trainer or a physical therapist.
What's the strongest part of your game right now?
Kellie: Probably my jump shot and transition game.
Erica: Driving to the basket.
Natalie: Slashing to the basket and competitiveness.
What are some areas of your game that you can improve upon?
Kellie: Ball handling and conditioning.
Erica: Yeah, I would agree. (laughter) I would say, conditioning, jump shot and ball handling.
Fraderica: Shooting and ball handling.
Natalie: Pull-up jumpers, ball handling, and combo moves.
What have you learned about college life in your first week on campus?
Kellie: Everything's just going so fast. We don't know where we're going or how to get there. We're always pulling out maps and staring out them and trying to figure out where everything is. But it's a lot different than I thought - in a good way. I'm a lot more comfortable than I thought I was going to be.
Erica: I don't feel totally comfortable right now just because I feel so rushed. You don't have time to do certain things, like eat dinner. We finally figured out how to balance our time and get to eat. But the other girls say it's going to get better eventually.
Fraderica: Time is the one thing. People are always saying that when you get to college, you're going to have all this time on your hands. And I'm asking `where's that time?' But that's probably for people who don't play sports. Other than that, everything's been great.
Natalie: Pretty much the same. Everything's been kind of a blur early, but learning time management will be something we all have to work on to be successful here.
What was it like to get out on the floor for your first day of pick-up games with your new Notre Dame teammates? (NOTE: Kellie and Natalie have not yet been cleared by team medical personnel for full game action as they finish rehabbing from minor injuries during their senior year of high school)
Erica: It's very different from high school. It's fast-paced and you have to keep up with the game. You can't stay back if you're tired. I know I did, and that's one thing I've got to really improve on - just stay with the pace of the game or you're going to get left behind.
Fraderica: I played pick-up when I came on my (official recruiting) visit and it was a lot faster than I thought. I was used to playing fast in high school, but I feel like I have to be even faster.
What was it like to step on the court for the first time and realize that you're a member of the Notre Dame women's basketball program?
Kellie: Great. It was different, but really great.
Erica: It felt really good to be part of something bigger than yourself, and representing not only your team, but the fans that support you and the University.
Fraderica: It was a huge weight off my shoulders when I signed. Actually getting here feels like I've accomplished so much in this short stretch of time (after signing back in April).
Natalie: It was a big relief to get it done with (the commitment). I was sick of the recruiting process and I knew that this was the right place. Just to be here now has confirmed all the decisions I made last fall.
For Kellie and Erica, you've known each other for more than eight years. What's it like to be on the same team after being the top two players in the state of Michigan and playing for different schools and different AAU programs on opposite ends of the state?
Kellie: It feels good. We played against each other in AAU for years, but it's good to actually be on the same side.
Erica: It's great. Kellie, she's a cool girl. I've heard a lot of good things about her. You know, in Michigan, they made it sound like we were competing against each other in a bad way. And knowing that she was going to be my teammate, I didn't like that. I didn't want to pre-judge her or anything by what I was hearing or reading. And I'm glad I did because everything's been great.
What's something people might not know about you?
Kellie: I can juggle bowling pins and stuff like that. I even juggled scissors once, but not knives.
Erica: I can be really silly, not like pulling pranks, but I just like to make lots of jokes and have fun.
Fraderica: I like to be dance and be silly, too. I don't come off as real open early on, but once I get to know you, I'm really outgoing. I've also played ball at our rec center back in Atlanta and been coached by some famous people and their kids like Brian Jordan (former Atlanta Braves outfielder/Atlanta Falcons defensive back), Terry Pendleton (1992 National League MVP with the Braves) and Bobby Butler (former Falcons defensive back).
Natalie: I got to meet some famous people at the Kentucky Derby this year like Adrian (Grenier) from "Entourage" and I think Michael Jordan was there, too, but I didn't get to see him.
What's your favorite TV show?
Fraderica: "CSI" and "Law & Order". I like the original "Law & Order" and "SVU", but not so much "Criminal Intent". And I can watch all of the "CSI" shows. "Miami" is my favorite, but I could watch them all and not get bored.
Erica: "Family Guy"
Kellie: "Greek" (on ABC Family Channel).
Natalie: "Grey's Anatomy"
What is your number one goal that you want to accomplish during your four years at Notre Dame?
All four players (in unison): We want the national championship!
-- ND --