An Interview With Katie Garrish, USBWA DIII National Player of the Week

Katie Garrish is making Southern Virginia University history.

The 6’3” sophomore and business major from Annandale, Virginia, was just named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Division III National Player of the Week for the week ending Jan. 13—the first Southern Virginia player to ever receive the award.

Garrish is averaging nearly 18 points and 13 rebounds per game. She has been a key player for the 16-1 Knights, who have won 15 consecutive games and are 7-0 in Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) play.

In addition to receiving National Player of the Week honors, Garrish has been named the CAC player of the week three times in a row and has posted a double-double for ten straight games, including the team’s most recent game against the University of Mary Washington on Jan. 23.

In an interview on Jan. 17, Garrish shared her passion for basketball, her love for her team and her reaction to being named National Player of the Week.

Note: The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What made you want to play basketball?

“My mom. My mom is huge on basketball. She never really pushed a single sport, but basketball is where I found a passion and fell in love with the game.”

What drives you to be passionate and push yourself?

“Honestly, I love the team and I love that we can be like a family. That pushes me every day to know that if my team wants to win, then I want to win just as bad. That passion that we all share is so important to me.”

Tell me about the moment you heard you were awarded National Player of the Week.

“I just got done with shooting practice and Coach [Wardenburg] was like, ‘Hey Katie, come here.’ So I’m kind of nervous and a little scared to talk to coach because I don’t know what it’s going to be about. And he was like, ‘I just got word that you are going to be National Player of the Week,” and I’m like, “What? What?!”

“He actually told me a week before that [being named National Player of the Week] was one of his goals for me. Once I heard that I was like, ‘Ok, let’s do this, let’s work, let’s get it done.’ It’s funny that literally the week it happened was the week after he told me. It’s a great honor.”

What motivates you to follow your coach? What relationship does he have with your team?

“It’s very one-on-one, and I like that he gets to know us as people and players. It’s so much fun to play for him because he can find our strengths and he can utilize them to the best of our ability.”

What are you guys like as a team?

“We are a family. We are close on and off the court and that is so critical to us. Our bench is so critical to what we do on the court because they cheer us on, and honestly, that is what hypes us up to do our best on the court to get the wins. It shows how much it can change our game and our mental state.”

Now that you’ve had these awards and national recognition, other teams have their eye out for you and are changing their strategy to try to stop you. Can you speak to the way your teammates have responded to help keep this winning streak alive?

“We each have our part to play. I feel like as long as I am taking care of what I need to down by the basket, they are going to take care of what they need to outside. They make sure that they still come and rebound because there are people crowding me. They also make sure they’re in the open spot, so if I don’t have the shot, they are in that area where I can just pass it out to them, and they got that three. They know where to be and they trust me to find them, just so well as a team.”

They definitely came in big yesterday (speaking of the Knight’s thrilling victory over CNU on Jan. 16).

“Yes, they did. Everyone picked it up yesterday and it was so much fun. Alexis Barnes totally just took it to them and I love that. Nan (Savanna Christensen) had one of the critical three’s that I think really turned the game to where we were like, ‘We’re in this, and we’re here to win this championship.’ That’s when Lex realized it too, so she started knocking them down and it just started flowing.”

What has been one of your favorite moments over the whole season?

“Well, that was a big game, so I think that was one of the best moments. But I love traveling with the team that’s always so much fun. Our bond just keeps building and building as we spend more time together. Being on the bench is just as fun as being out in the game. Even though I love to play, it’s so much fun cheering on my teammates and seeing what we do in practice really showing out on the court during games.”

Why did you come to Southern Virginia?

“I was planning on going to a community college back at home, but then I realized that I don’t need to be home anymore. So, I decided to come to Southern Virginia, and now I can’t imagine myself being anywhere else. It was super fun getting to know everyone freshman year, and this year has been even better building on that.”

What has been your experience here at the school?

“I love classes and the professors, and I love how we get to meet with them one-on-one. Also, the athletic events are always so much fun to go to, especially the football games, lacrosse games and soccer games. I like that you get to see all of the different athletes on campus and can be like, ‘Oh I saw you playing, nice game.’ It’s so much fun to be at a smaller school and just know everyone on campus.”