(Photo by Marc Spencer)
This week I got the chance to do a feature story on freshman basketball star Lexi Eaton (See the story below). I have seen her play on the court for the Cougars, but had never really taken the time to learn about her story and discover how she arrived at this point. Let me tell you, she is truly an amazing athlete! She comes from an athletic family and has excelled in virtually every sport she’s tried her hand at, but chose to focus on basketball, soccer and track as she started playing at more competitive levels through middle school and high school. She could have played any of the three sports at the college level, but chose to focus on basketball. I recently had a Q&A session with Lexi about her career in sports. This is what she had to say:
Q: Tell me about your journey in sports and how you ended up playing basketball here at BYU.
A: Ever since I was a little girl I was into soccer. I grew up playing on various club teams throughout the state, and it was my first true love. Then in seventh grade my parents had me try city league basketball for the first time. I hated it! But I was naturally good at the sport, and that year I got invited to play on an AAU basketball team. Once I got to ninth grade, I was invited to play on the Salt Lake Metro club basketball team, and that's when I knew I had too much going on. I realized that year that basketball was my new favorite. I made the decision to quit club soccer and just try to balance high school soccer, basketball, club basketball and track and field. Throughout high school, different colleges recruited me for all three sports, including BYU. College soccer was out of the question, as it overlaps with the college basketball season. However, my senior year I received a phone call from one of the BYU track coaches, Coach Murdock, asking if I would like to high jump for BYU in the outdoor season. He had already worked it out with Coach Judkins, and I accepted. I still miss playing soccer and would still love to play on the BYU soccer team, if my schedule ever allowed me to.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge for you beginning as a freshman on a Division I top 25 team?
A: Well, there are a few aspects that have been really challenging. First, I don't feel like I was challenged enough in high school to really prepare me to be a starter on a top 25 team in the nation. Secondly, adapting to college life and even interacting with married teammates can really mess with your head. I've been told I'm the youngest one on the team (18), and have had to overcome my youth in a hurry. But the biggest challenge for me has been figuring out my mentality. I have had to learn how to be tougher, and to remember to always bring the strengths that I have to the court.
Q: What do you think you need to work on most to continue improving?
A: I have what I call a 'Top 5' list of things I need to improve, that I am constantly updating. I revise this list, but here is the current snap-shot:
1. Mental and emotional toughness2. Following through on all layups3. "Fox in the hen house" (taking advantage of the threat I become once I get inside the paint)4. Aggressively rebounding5. Being professional (taking care of the little details)
Q: Where do you think your role on the team is headed? What type of player do you see yourself becoming on the BYU team in the future?
A: I think my teammates will look to me for more and more leadership as time goes on and the years go by. So I need to become an even better player in all areas and continue to be the best I can possibly be.
Q: Did you expect to start as a freshman?
A: I actually set it as a goal to start as a freshman, and then layed out a plan of what I needed to improve on in order to achieve that goal. So I would have to say yes. I would have been very disappointed if I hadn't started as a freshman.
Q: Has playing at BYU been what you expected?
A: BYU has been better than anything I had expected. BYU treats its athletes very well and makes sure they have the tools to succeed both on the court and in the classroom. I really love how every class ties religion into each subject--it makes learning more meaningful and applicable in my opinion. I really enjoy it.
Q: Is there anything about you that you don't think most people know?
A: I love music. I play the violin, piano and organ. I also have an extreme fear of spiders!!
Lexi is definitely one of the most self-motivated athletes I have ever interviewed, and if you ever get the chance to watch her play or practice it’s easy to see that drive is embedded in her as a player. It will be fun to watch her continue not only to succeed on the basketball court, but also in the upcoming outdoor track season when she competes as a high jumper. She recorded the third highest jump in the nation in 2011 at 5'10.5". Her list of accomplishments and awards is truly inspiring for someone who has just entered her freshman year of college.