Talisa Rhea - Everyday Champion

Jan. 20, 2009

'I like to have a lot of fun, but I'm serious on the basketball court and put a lot of work into it. I like to enjoy everything that I do.'

For sophomore guard Talisa Rhea, that means in the classroom as well where she is a double major in education and exercise and sport science. Her aspiration, after her playing days are over, is to be a coach.

'I hope to still be playing or coaching,' Rhea said of her future, five-to-10 years from now. 'Coaching interests me because I want to pass along what I have learned and give back to the community. I want to be that coach that people turn to and help kids that are in a position that I once was.'

In other words, the position she once was in, following her dad to the gym to watch him play in her hometown of Juneau, Alaska. That's where the basketball passion bit her.

'I was always hanging around the gym,' Rhea said. 'As long as I can remember, I wanted to play basketball.'

Basketball was the impetus for Rhea to find her way to a college, where she has excelled with over a 3.5 cumulative GPA in such recent courses as introduction to microeconomics and financial accounting. Even with that type of class schedule, she is destined for the postseason Pac-10 Academic team.

'There are a lot of classes, just a lot of time devoted to academics,' Rhea explained on the demands of being a double major. 'I'm lucky to have a great advisor (former Beaver soccer player Lindy Brown) to get me into the right classes and excellent tutors to help me along the way.'

Lucky maybe, but she has made her own luck and is on her way to not only being one of the top guards in the history of the program, but also one of the best student-athletes at OSU.

More with Talisa Rhea:

Q. What was it like growing up in Juneau?
A. Juneau is a lot different in many ways. There are no roads leaving town so you pretty much know everyone. I had the same friends while I was growing up; we went to the same school. It's a very united community and everybody supports the high school teams. It's a great place to grow up; you don't have to worry about too much in terms of safety.

Q. Did you ever feel that Juneau was a detriment to you athletically in terms of earning a scholarship?
A. Growing up in Juneau did make a little harder to get to where I am now, because I wasn't playing against the best competition. Once I got into AAU basketball I started playing tournaments around the West Coast and that helped tremendously.

Q. When did you know basketball was the sport for you?
A. At an early age; I used to go to the gym and watch my dad play - I was always hanging around the gym. As long as I can remember, I wanted to play basketball.

Q. What is it like playing for Coach (LaVonda) Wagner?
A. It's awesome. She's a great coach and is very passionate about the game. She does what she can to get the best out of you every day, and as a player that's what you want - somebody to push you and make you better every day. She cares about you not only as a player, but as an individual as well.

Q. What is the most important lesson you have learned from Coach Wagner?
A. The most important thing she has taught me is you can do anything you set your mind to on and off the court. If you are willing to put in the work, you are going to see the results. You can be successful in anything you choose to do - hard work pays off.

Q. Why should the casual basketball fan come see this team play?
A. We are going to work hard every night, we are going to play together every night, we are going to be in your face on defense and get up and down the court on offense. We are fun to watch and we have players who can do multiple things. It's not just about one player it's about the whole team.

Q. What is the best advice you can give to young girls playing basketball?
A. If you put in the time your efforts are going to pay off. The more you invest the greater results you are going to see. You want to make opportunities for yourself by meeting coaches and playing on different teams because you never know who is going to help you along the way.

Q. What are your goals for this season and beyond?
A. The biggest goal for our team is to make it to postseason play.

Q. What has surprised you most about Oregon State?
A. The biggest thing is just how much support the community gives the athletic teams. It's amazing how people in the community get fired up for the basketball and football games, and that is what you want if you're a student-athlete. There is a lot of support here.

Q. How important is it for you to have a scholarship to an institution like Oregon State?
A. I don't know where I would be if I hadn't received a scholarship to Oregon State. To be able to come to a school like this and not have to worry about finances is huge for me; I'm taking full advantage of it.

Q. Do you consider yourself a role model?
A. I know in Alaska a lot of girls looked up to me; that's a huge compliment.

Q. What was going through your mind when you set the Pac-10 record for three-point field goals (10) against Sacramento State earlier this season?
A. I guess I was just feeling `it.' My teammates did a great job getting me the ball and I just was in the mode where every shot I took I thought was going in.

Q. Why do you collect bouncy balls?
A. It's just something fun; I usually take at least one on the road with me. In case I get board it's just something fun to do. I used to play with them a lot more, especially in high school.

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