March 5, 2009
By Keenan Bowen, EWU Sports Information
You might find Julie Piper playing some relaxing acoustic guitar around Montana this week, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t ready to lace up her shoes and get it done on the hardwood in two very important road games against the Montana schools.
Piper and the Eastern Washington University women’s basketball team play one of those games tonight at 6:05 against the first-place Montana Grizzlies in Missoula, Mont. Eastern will then play its last regular-season game Saturday in Bozeman, Mont., against the Montana State Bobcats.
The Eagles (10-17, 5-9 BSC) need to win at least 1-of-2 games this weekend. Victories in both contests would secure a spot regardless of the results of the other Big Sky games this week. With a 1-1 week, the Eagles will need some help to advance to the six-team Big Sky Conference Tournament.
The 6-foot-1 forward from Roseburg, Ore., is leading the Eagles in points (10.7) and rebounds per game (7.0). She is also the only player on the roster to start every game this season and ranks highly in several Big Sky statistical categories. She is fifth in free throw shooting (77.3 percent), sixth in rebounding and 19th in scoring.
Q: What drives you to be successful on the basketball court?
A: “I would say my faith is the number one reason. I am a Christian, and I just want to honor God with the athletic ability he has given me. I feel like the opportunity to play here has been a mission filled. I just love my teammates and being around them, and I love the game of basketball, too.”
Q: Where do you see yourself one year from now?
A: “I just want to continue to get better and better on the court. I plan on staying in Cheney this summer and working on my shooting and defense. So I see myself a year from now getting ready to go into the conference tournament.”
Q: What about 10 years from now?
A: “I am going to be a teacher so probably doing that. Also, I’ll probably be taking as many crazy outdoors adventures as I can in my off time.”
Q: What passions do you have outside of basketball?
A: “I love playing the guitar, and I plan on taking it on our road trip this weekend. I love any outdoor sports, like skiing and what-not. Hanging out with my friends. Also, ministry is a big one. I am involved with FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) on campus.”
Q: Why do you like the outdoors so much?
A: “I just feel like it’s the way I re-energize, being outside. These last two years I haven’t been able to ski because it is against team rules (for safety reasons), so I bought snowshoes this year and have been doing that (snowshoeing). It is fun, and it’s a good way to get away from the gym for a little while.”
Q: As the team’s leading scorer, do you feel any pressure to come out and score right away?
A: “I do a little bit. I probably pressure myself more than I need to. As a team I want to win, so I want to do the best individually that I can to get us there. But I know I can defend and rebound every game, and those are the two things I hang my hat on.”
Q: What is the mood of the team heading into the important road trip against the Montana schools?
A: “We just want to get into the tournament. If we win one game we have a small chance, so the goal is to win two but it is going to be tough getting a win at Montana. We are just balls to the wall right now because this is our season.”
Q: Who has been your favorite professor while attending EWU so far?
A: “Scott Finnie. The first day of class he just seemed really excited about teaching, and it made me want to come to class. He also incorporates stories into his teaching and that keeps everyone entertained.”
Q: What has been your favorite class at Eastern so far?
A: “I am in music in the humanities right now, and I really like it because I am big into music. I have learned a lot about the theory of music, and it is just really fun.”
Q: What is your favorite song to play on guitar and why?
A: “I would have to say Home to Me by Josh Kelley. I just love the song, and it is really relaxing. I really like acoustic music too.”
Q: What aspect of basketball do you like best and why?
A: “I like setting goals and then doing the hard work to get there and achieve them. Also, seeing the team achieve a goal that we didn’t think was attainable.”
Q: Who have been some of the most influential people in your playing career?
A: “One of the athletes that has inspired me a lot is Jerry Rice. He was undersized, went to a small school and was told he wasn’t going to be great. He would get up at six a.m. in the off-season and do workouts; he would watch film on every single player and figure out what he needed to do to beat them. That type of determination to be the best is inspiring. Also, friends and family because it is a really long season and it can wear on you. But my friends and family give me constant encouragement, prayer and ways to keep it fun.”