University of New Mexico women’s basketball players Aisia Robertson and Bride Kennedy-Hopoate are busy preparing for their 2019-2020 campaign.
Robertson is originally from San Francisco and beginning her third year with the team. Kennedy-Hopoate transferred to UNM from Queensland, Australia last year. Although this is her second year on the team, it will be her first year garnering playing time for the Lobos.
Both players are majoring in Liberal Arts. After college, both said they hope to play basketball professionally overseas, with Kennedy-Hopoate adding that she wants to eventually coach collegiate basketball.
The two players recently spoke with the Daily Lobo about their college experience and playing for the UNM women’s basketball team.
What has your experience been like playing basketball for UNM?
Robertson: “My experience playing has been really good. The coaching staff is really accepting and understanding and really easy to get along with.”
Kennedy-Hopoate: “I actually sat out my first year as a transfer, but I'll play this year. I’m really excited. I got to experience the atmosphere sitting on the bench. We have a good team this year, and it’s really exciting.”
What’s it like playing at the collegiate level compared to high school or club basketball?
Robertson: "It’s much faster, playing wise. It really tests your IQ. But the biggest difference would honestly be not seeing your family at the end of every school day.”
Kennedy-Hopoate: “I think another really big transition from high school basketball to college would be the workload and how intense it is every day. You can’t have a day off. It’s not for everybody. You have to be a different breed.”
Do you have any favorite memories from being on the team or just here at UNM?
Robertson: “I would say going overseas this year with everybody. Our whole team and coaching staff got to go overseas and visit Paris and Rome. It was just a great experience. Not everybody gets to go on a trip like that, so it was really special."
What are you majoring in, and are you minoring in anything?
Robertson: “I’m a Liberal Arts major.”
Kennedy-Hopoate: “Me too. I didn’t want to just focus on one thing. I’m not that type of person. I want to do a whole range of stuff, because I’m not going to be completely focused on one thing when I leave. When we go pro, we can make money off of pretty much anything. It’s good to have a bunch of things under your belt."
How do you guys prepare for a game? Do you have any pre-game rituals?
Robertson: “I personally take a nap. I try to recharge my battery. And I try to eat, maybe 45 minutes to an hour before a game, so it can get through my system and I’m light on my feet."
Kennedy-Hopoate: "Music. Shower. Legs up. Eat. Make sure that I’m relaxed. I want to make sure that the only thing on my mind is the game. I think about what my role is and make sure that I do my stuff for the team."
What sparked your passion for basketball?
Robertson: "Honestly, I think it’s something that just grew inside of me. I’ve been playing since second grade. I didn’t know it was going to be my passion or anything, because at that time it was just fun and it came easily to me. Then I just kept playing and kept developing that hunger to want to win and be great at it."
Kennedy-Hopoate: “For me, I actually didn’t know I’d be playing basketball. I was actually a track athlete and my track coach’s husband told me to come and try basketball. I was like, "What? No. I don’t even know how to dribble a basketball.' I didn’t know anything. They literally threw me out there in a practice and I’m just turning around and walking with the ball. And now I’m here. But, I’ve been playing since I was ten."
Do you have any school survival tips for incoming freshman or students in general?
Robertson: “Stay organized. Always be early or on time. And budget your money."
Kennedy-Hopoate: "Definitely budget your money. Get sleep. Sleep is so important. Also, be organized because that is so important. It reduces your stress."
Do you guys have a favorite city to play in other than Albuquerque?
Robertson: "'The Pit’ is unmatched."
The UNM women’s basketball team plays their first game on Sunday, Oct. 27 at 2 p.m. at the Pit.
Angelina Pompeo is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @PompeoAngelina