Get to know your Trojan freshmen!

July 26, 2006

The USC women's basketball team has four freshmen rounding out its 2006-07 roster. Hailey Dunham, Jacki Gemelos, Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock have hit the ground running at Troy, jumping into summer school, daily workouts and just generally getting their bearings at USC. Let's check in with the Trojans' freshest faces with a quick Q&A session that took place in the newcomers' favorite spot on campus - coach Trakh's office...

Hi everyone, let's get this show on the road. We want the world to learn a little bit about how your lives are taking shape here at USC. So... first question...
What has been the biggest surprise since you've been here at USC?
Aarika: The lack of sleep you get. It definitely takes a toll on you when you don't get enough sleep. The workouts are early. When I saw the USC football players out there, I was like `Oh crap'. But once you get there and see what they're doing, they really help you out.

Hailey: There's a 65-year-old man in one of my classes. And he wears Birkenstocks.

What's your favorite spot on campus so far?
Everyone: Coach Trakh's office.

Have you met your roommate yet?
Aarika: Jacki and I just found out we're rooming together.
Jacki: She's a good influence on me.
Aarika: And you're a good influence on me, Jacki.

What was the most important thing you packed?
Hailey: My hairbands because they're all breaking. And phone chargers are really important.

Aarika: Jacki's sidekick -- that's her most important thing. My most important thing is my laptop.

Morghan: My purse. I have like 20 of them. I brought half.

What did you forget to pack?
Jacki: I don't think I forgot anything. Oh wait, I forgot a pillow.

Aarika: I forgot a lamp.

What's it like to be away from your family?
Jacki: I miss them. But I'm going home in two weeks after summer school. I talk to my dad probably two or three times a day and I talk to my mom at least once every day.

Morghan: I live around the corner, so I go home every two days. I have a car here.

Aarika: I don't know what I'm going to do in the school year. My mom calls me every night crying. She misses me. I'm attached to my parents. I talk to them all the time. The only thing I can't do is have full-fledged conversations very often. But my mom now has a screenname so I can IM her on my sidekick. She keeps in contact and gives me advice.

Hailey: I go home on the weekend. But I love being away. I don't really call home. They call me.

Do any memories from the USC games you've seen stand out to you?
Jacki: The UCLA game. I came to the one at home and I remember the 8,667 people that were there. It was memorable because that was the most people that they've ever had. And I also came to the Ohio State game. They were such a highly ranked team and USC played really well.

Hailey: I watched the Michigan State game the year before and jumped off the couch when Brynn hit that three. It was amazing.

What personal goals do each of you have prior to season starting?
Jacki: Just to actually get to play this year. I have to get more serious with my rehab. If I could I'd be in the football workouts every morning.

Morghan: To be in shape.

Hailey: I want to get stronger and quicker to defend quicker guards.

Aarika: To all-around have better stamina and get stronger by working out with strength and conditioning. And eating better.

Who is your basketball role model?
Morghan: My dad. He studies the game so he can teach me. He's just telling me to get my body in shape and get my lungs ready for a fast-paced game and getting stronger.

Hailey: Michael Jordan inspires me. If you watch his highlight tape, you'll be inspired. With how many obstacles he overcame as a young kid, to see how he pushed through to get where he did and be the greatest is inspiring in itself.

Jacki: Diana Taurasi. She won three national championships. I want to do the same thing.

Aarika: My dad. He's been there through everything. No matter how much I complain, he's been there. He's been my coach since 6th grade. All the way through high school. He really pushed me and motivated me and yelled at me when I needed it. I didn't like it then, but it's paid off now.

How are workouts with the strength team going?
Hailey: I absolutely love Coach C (Leslie Cordova), and I'm sad she's leaving. I had no idea what to expect with the workouts. Coach Carlisle has the most inspirational after-workout speeches.

Morghan: I've been sick, but I was doing it in the mornings. I like that each station we go to hits every muscle in your body and use muscles you didn't know you had.

Aarika: I think it's cool that all the other girls are there. You see all the other athletes working out. It's good because the girls from the other sports push each other and encourage each other.

Aarika: When I went to the USA tryouts with Camille this summer I remember looking at Camille and seeing how intense the next level is. I was like `Wow, it's going to be totally different.' You just have to get used to it. A big thing about it is strength.

What do you love most about Los Angeles?
Morghan: It's home. I like it because there's so much to do. I never get bored.I like to go to the mall, pretty much any mall.

Jacki: It's so different from where I live. It's more mellow in Stockton and not as busy. I like the busy atmosphere; everybody's doing something. Stockton's not boring but there's more here.

Aarika: Everything here is so much different. I like the heat down here. Not when it's extremely hot, but I like that it's sunny. I like that I get a change.

Hailey: I like LA because it's fast-paced. I couldn't deal with being in a little small town. And the weather for sure, and the beach.
Aarika: The beach!
Jacki: Yes! The beach! We're going tomorrow, right?

What was your 'welcome to college' moment?
Hailey: Getting up that first morning and completing the first day of school from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.. The first day was fun and the second day was a little harder.

Jacki: I was anxious to learn my first day.

Hailey: Having my stomach rumble and realizing I can't just go to the fridge unless I put food in there.Jacki: She lived off oatmeal for a while there.

Morghan: The first couple nights when I went in the kitchen and I realized dinner wasn't ready. I went to buy Popeye's.

What do you guys do in your down time?
Morghan: Sleep.

Aarika: Chill in Aarika's room.

Jacki: Homework.

Hailey: I either nap, listen to music or call my friends.

I hear you guys like to listen to music and sing! What's your favorite type ofmusic?
Aarika: My favorite is R&B.

Jacki: I like all kind of music - R&B, rap, alternative, hard rock, country. I am very open-minded when It comes to music.

Morghan: Rap. And I like Phil Collins and Seal.

Hailey: I like R&B, rap and hiphop, and jazz.

How do you feel about being the first class to play in the Galen Center?
Everyone: Woooooo!!!

Hailey: I can't wait to see it all finished, to step on a court with a wood floor and baskets and the USC logo.

Aarika: It's going to be gorgeous. And exciting to represent our school.

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