Meet The Cardinal: Foluke Akinradewo

Nov. 19, 2008

Foluke Akinradewo, one of the Cardinal captains, is a senior middle blocker from Plantation, Fla. Entering the final stretch of her collegiate career, Foluke is on track to finish with the best hitting percentage ever recorded by an NCAA Division I player, shattering the previous record by more than 20 points. After posting the second-best single season hitting percentage in NCAA history last year, Foluke became Stanford's seventh AVCA National Player of the Year. The 2007 Pac-10 Player of the Year, the 2005 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, and the 2007 Honda Award winner for volleyball, Foluke's long list of accomplishments also includes three All-America honors and three All-Pac-10 awards. She will finish her career among the school's top-10 all-time kill leaders with more than 1,500 to her name, and top-three all-time block leaders with more than 500 over her four years.

When did you start playing volleyball? How did you get introduced to it?

Growing up, I was all about basketball and track and field. I started playing basketball when I was in first grade and I started participating in the USA Track & Field Junior Olympics in third grade. I was positive that I'd either play basketball or run track in college and my goal was to win a gold medal in the triple jump at the Olympics. However, this all changed in high school. My freshman year in high school, my volleyball coach, Mrs. Lisa Zielinski (Coach Z), kept bugging me to tryout for the team. Like I mentioned earlier, I was all about basketball and track. They were the only sports I really knew and volleyball didn't seem like it would be my `style'. In order to appease Coach Z, I decided to tryout for the volleyball team my sophomore year. I was HORRIBLE! There wasn't a single skill that I could do correctly. I'm pretty sure my height was the only factor keeping me on the team. I obviously didn't know much about the game and I proceeded to spike a `free ball' back at the opponent my very first match! Despite all of this, I fell in love with the game and I've never looked back. I continued to play basketball and participate in track and field throughout high school so I wasn't able to play club, but I knew that volleyball was going to be my sport in college.

Describe your family. How have they had an effect on your career?

I have a pretty athletic family. My two older brothers, Folu and Foluso, ran track in college; my mom, Comfort, ran track when she was younger; and my dad, Ayoola, played soccer when he was younger. Although my brothers did not play volleyball, they've had a big impact on my athletic career. Growing up, I played basketball with my brothers and their buddies. Since I was the only girl, I quickly had to learn how be tough and compete. They've never allowed me to settle. When I was little, Foluso would not let me come into the house until I made 20 left-handed lay-ups in a row. Folu would always race me around the track or challenge me to jump-offs in the long jump pit. Although he always won (by a lot) it pushed me to run faster and jump farther. These little things have shaped me as an athlete today. They still get on me when I don't play well and are always letting me know that I have yet to reach my full potential.

On top of being athletic, my family is a `family of medicine'. My dad is a doctor of medical physics, my mom is a registered nurse, Folu is an assistant controller for a medical company in South Florida, and Foluso, is getting ready to apply to medical schools. I guess it's no surprise that I'm also interested in science and want to become a medical doctor.

What is something that most people don't know about you?

When I was little, I really wanted to be a movie star. I'd always be singing, dancing, and acting for my parents and brothers. I'm not going to lie; I was pretty good at it ;). After a period of persistent begging, I convinced my mom to get me an agent. I go the whole package--glamour shots, acting coaching, etc. My family would drive from Fresno (where we lived at the time) to L.A. so that I could audition for commercials. There was, however, one slight problem. I'm shy! I wasn't one of those bubbly and outgoing little kids that awed adults. It has always taken me a while to come out of my shell (even more so when I was younger), which is exactly the opposite of what they wanted. Needless to say, I didn't make it in Hollywood.

Describe something you're NOT good at.

I'm a VERY forgetful person. I'm constantly misplacing my phone, leaving my sweatshirt or goggles in the gym, and at times forgetting where I put my bike or parked my car. I went through a bad spell during my sophomore year where I forgot my jersey in the hotel room on two separate occasions (I could have sworn I put them in my bag!). I'm now a lot better at remembering things than I used to be, but I seriously have to quadruple check to make sure I have everything and make a conscious effort to remember where I last placed an item.

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