Getting To Know Alyssa Blockburger
This week I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with USC sophomore Track and Field runner Alyssa Blockburger. She is a transfer from Arizona. We talked about her adjusting to campus life and the team, her goals for the upcoming track and field season, the go-to meal she cooks, and so much more.
Q: What led you to transfer to USC?
AB: Definitely the academics. The track team at USC is amazing and coach (Jebreh) Harris is building a great program. My brother was also transferring here, and I wanted to be at a school with him. My whole family is also from Los Angeles, so I get to be near them as well.
Q: As a transfer, has the team helped you adjust to USC?
AB: Transferring to another college feels like being a freshman again. But, through the team, I've met such amazing people who have helped me become acclimated to everything. The team has definitely helped me grow as a person.
Q: What are some of the differences or at least things you like about this program?
AB: I like the team's communication. We're really open to talking to each other and solving issues. We always build each other up during practice. I never go through practice feeling alone or down about myself because my teammates are there to say, "you got this workout" or "you can do it". I feel like that's super supportive and helps me finish the workout strong. Workouts can be physically draining, but everyone is super supportive which helps me get through the day. I would not get through the day if it wasn't for my teammates' support.
Q: What has your experience been running for the cross-country team?
AB: It's been a little challenging because it was my first time doing cross country. At my previous university, I was doing less than 10 miles per week and now I'm doing 30 miles per week. So, I feel like that's been a little hard, but I've adjusted. I overall like cross country and I'm getting the work done. I feel like cross country has made me grow as an athlete because I'm running distances I'm not used to.
Q: You had a season-best time of 2:09.41 in the 800m in 2021 which placed you sixth at the Desert Heat Classic. Reflecting on your past accomplishments, what are some of your goals for this upcoming track and field season?
AB: I feel like I gained experience by competing at Pac-12s last season. I never competed at that level before. Everyone who is competing isn't playing around so I had to adjust my training and mindset to meet their level. This season, I want to be a finalist at nationals and to make it through every round of every track meet I go to. I don't have a certain time because I don't want to limit myself, but I know I want to go to nationals and be a finalist in the 800m and at least make it to regionals in the 400m.
Q: You mentioned that you had to change your mindset since competing in college. What was your mindset before and how did it change?
AB: Well, before I was like "oh I could eat a pizza before a race" and thought it was ok. Now, I have certain pre-race rituals and I'm very conscious of my surroundings. Before, I used to listen to music before a race, and now I won't. I have to be in the moment. Now, I look around me, who my competitors are and think about what time I'm going for. Also, now, before a race, I try to stay off social media for a week because I don't want to see what times other people are running because it can be frustrating or overwhelming.
Q: Who is the best athlete in the family: you, your brother, your dad… maybe your mom?
AB: My dad. I think my brother is at my dad's level right now, but my dad has accomplished more as an athlete and as a coach. I also look up to him the most so I would say him.
Q: What are some of your favorite hobbies?
AB: Oh, I love to cook! I make a lot of pasta. I love pasta. I really love all Italian food. I also love seafood. Shrimp and salmon are my top favorites. Salmon, shrimp, asparagus and sweet potatoes are what I make all the time.
Q: So, if people are coming over, what's the go-to meal you would make them?
AB: Definitely salmon and sweet potatoes. That's my go-to.
Q: I know the track team did a team-bonding karaoke night recently… did you partake? Who stood out? Did the coaches sing?
AB: I did! We got second. I think my team deserved first but we were practicing 'we over me', so we all won. We sang 'My Boo' but the running man challenge version. We did the running man dance a lot...too much. That's what we did the whole time. The group that got first, Coach Watts group, stood out the most. They had a full synchronized dance routine in the 30 minutes we got to practice. It was really crazy how they did that so quickly. That whole team stood out the most.