Beyond the court with women’s basketball: Inside the life of a student-athlete

Courtesy of UCR Athletics

The Highlander sat down for an exclusive interview with women’s basketball Head Coach Seyram Bell, senior guard Jannon Otto and senior forward Marina Ewodo. In this interview, we got a different, more in-depth perspective at what it is like to be a student-athlete and how they attempt to balance school life with athletics. Additionally, we got a perspective of what the transition from former student-athlete to Head Coach was like for Bell.

Q: From being a student-athlete previously with UCR, what was the transition like from being a student-athlete to the head coach of the team?

Seyram Bell: Each level that I’ve been through has been different and shown its share of challenges. But it has been a learning experience with every jump and that goes from my freshman year as a student-athlete to my senior year as a student-athlete. I had an idea of what I was supposed to do going in but when I actually got here, I thought you just walk into the gym and work on this, this and this. But there is a lot more though that goes into what it is you need to work on with the players or doing some background homework on how to teach a certain drill with the offense or with the defense and with everything. Every level, I have just grown more and more with my understanding and knowledge of the game.

Q: How do you try to balance being a student with being an athlete? 

Jannon Otto: I would just say time management. I have to find time to study or come in for extra shots. For practice, we have practice everyday so we have to really balance assignments and when they are due and plan ahead. 

Q: Are there hours where you dedicate to study or study on the bus before or after games? 

Bell: I haven’t had to designate study hours because they are really good about pulling out their laptops or their books. They do their assignments whether it is on the bus, in the airport or even  in the hotel. When we played in Hawaii this past year, we had to be out of our hotels at a certain time and the game was later that evening so we were in a big meeting room and while we were in there, they are having study sessions with some working on math assignments and others are preparing for a midterm. Everyone had a laptop open and they were doing some type of assignment. It is pretty cool to see that they are taking advantage of any kind of opportunity that they have to put towards studying and you don’t have to ask them to do it — they do it on their own. 

Q: Do you have a pre-game routine that you do? Is there a certain song or album that you enjoy listening to before games?

Marina Ewodo: I do have a playlist. I listen to it in my car when I leave to get to the game. Also, I listen to it when I get to the gym. I listen to different songs, energetic songs like Beyonce or rap. 

Q: Do you have a favorite WNBA or NBA player that you try to model your game after or that you draw inspiration from? 

Ewodo: I don’t watch a lot of basketball but I do like to watch the Chicago Sky sometimes. 

Otto: I like Diamond DeShields from the Sky. She is my favorite WNBA player. I also like Damian Lillard.

Bell: I have two favorite players: (Michael) Jordan and Kobe (Bryant). Growing up, those were my role models and I tried to emulate their game.

The full interview: Sit Down Interview with UCR Women’s Basketball