Meet Rickey Claitt -- This Week's Everyday Champion

Jan. 13, 2009

Corvallis, Ore. -

Senior Rickey Claitt (pronounced Klatt) of the men's basketball team is a victim of his age.  How can that be for this 21-year old?


'I wish I had four more years with Coach Robinson,' Claitt said.  'I know I have improved tremendously as a player and a person, and I know the team has improved overall as well since his arrival.  If I had a few more years with him I would be that much better.  I'm just glad I have the opportunity to spend one year with him because I have learned so much, and I know the players coming through the program in the future are going to feel the same way because he is a great coach.'


Claitt may be the model student-athlete for Coach Robinson.  While thousands of fans cheer for him at every game, he has remained focused on is main goal at Oregon State, and it doesn't involve basketball.


'Graduating is the most important goal for me,' Claitt said.  'I promised my mom when I graduated from high school that if I got the chance to play college basketball that I was going to graduate.  My main goal, above playing basketball at Oregon State, is to graduate.'


Claitt is on track to reach his goal by the end of summer term, but it's not without challenges.  He has a heavy class load for the next three terms, but this Orlando native has used his resources wisely and is on his way to a college diploma.


'I'm very appreciative of this opportunity,' Claitt said of his scholarship.  'I wouldn't have had the ability to go to college and earn a great education if it weren't for my scholarship - thank you to the OSU donors (Beaver Athletic Student Fund).  I'm going to be the first male in my family to earn a college education.'


More with Rickey Claitt

Q. What is it like playing for Coach Robinson?

A. 'When we come to practice, it's like a new adventure everyday.  He tries to always motivate us to get better and not live off the past.  It's fun for me, because it is very professional.  We have to focus everyday because we have a hard leader and we can't take a day off. 


Q. What kinds of things have you learned from Coach Robinson on and off the court?

A. I've learned to be more of a vocal leader on the court; like if I was a coach on the floor.  He tells me everyday to not be afraid to call a play I think we need to run or play a certain defense.  I think that has helped the team play with more confidence, where as last year we always had to look towards the bench to see what we were supposed to do. Off the court, Coach Robinson wants us to be professional. He always says sit in front of the class, be 10 to 15 minutes early for class and practice - be early for everything.  As far as I'm concerned Coach Robinson is teaching us what it is going to be like in the real world.  I know that philosophy has helped me, because I'm doing a lot better than I did last year academically.


Q. How have you adjusted to the early morning practices?

A.  That's a funny story, because when we first met him in person he said practices were going to be at 5:30.  We had to ask him `in the morning or afternoon?'  Everybody was like `wow.'  But, we practiced at 7 last year so we thought it wasn't going to be that bad, but then we started waking up at 4 and it started to take a toll - but - we got used to rising that early and when we had a rare afternoon or evening practice everybody was kind of dead because we had adjusted to the morning practices.  I'm used to waking up early now, even when I don't have to.


Q. What do you see the future of this team?

A. I see great things for this team.  Coach Robinson is a great leader and a great coach.  He has a tremendous work ethic. When you play for him you want to make him proud because you know his heart is into it.  I see great things ahead for this program in the future.


Q. What would you tell a potential recruit about this program and the school?

A. I would tell a recruit if you want to learn a lot about the game of basketball and get a great education this is the place to come.  I don't care what anybody says, this program is up and coming and will be a force in this league.  We have come a long way in a short time and I think Coach Robinson is going to get this program rolling. 


Q. What has surprised you about Oregon State University?

A.  The community and the way people respond to student-athletes.  I have had numerous times when I have been at the grocery store or just some random place and someone will stop me and say they like the way I play or that I had a good game.  That really makes me feel special and makes me feel like I'm home, even though I'm a long way from my real home. 


Q. If you could address the fans at the next home game, what would you say?

A. I would tell the fans thanks for all the support, because I know it has been hard on them the last couple of seasons.  I don't blame them for not coming to watch us get beat; but things are different now and it's important for us to play in front of fans that support us - it motivates the team.  The fans were very important in our comeback against USC. 


Q. How much fun was it for you in the win over USC?

A.  It was great.  A couple of guys were almost in tears in the locker room. Coach Robinson was even speechless because he was so proud of the way we fought back and stuck together as a team.  For me it was a weight lifted off my shoulders, because that was my first Pac-10 victory.  I want to win more games now that I have experienced how much fun it is to win.  


Q. How serious are you about earning your degree?

A. Graduation is a very serious deal for me.  I promised my mom when I graduated from high school that if I get the chance to play college basketball that I was going to graduate.  My main goal, above playing basketball, at Oregon State is to graduate.


Q. What do you hope to do with a communications degree?

A. I'm not sure what I want to do, but I have already had a couple of job offers here and back home (Orlando). I would like to be a coach because I can relate to kids and I'm an example of how you can use basketball to further yourself academically. I can show kids what basketball has done for me and what doors can open.  I think I can influence kids to better themselves.


Q. Will you be the first in your family with a college degree?

A. I won't be the first in my family, but probably the first male.  My cousin was on track to graduate, but he dropped out. I consider graduating a personal feat for me and I want to show people Oregon State is not just a place to go play basketball, it's a place to get a great education. 


Q. What does it mean to have a scholarship paid for by the Beaver Athletic Scholarship Fund?

A. I'm very appreciative.  The BASF donors have made my goal to graduate a reality.  I would like them to know that their money is being spent wisely.


Q. How have you adjusted to OSU and do you miss Florida?

A.  People ask me if I miss home - I always tell them no because this is my home away from home.  I love Corvallis.

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