Feb. 4, 2013
Monique Mead graduated from Georgia Tech in December 2012 and is currently playing professional volleyball for Las Gigantes in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. She took time to answer a few questions for RamblinWreck.com.
Ramblin’ Wreck – What’s been the biggest adjustment living in Puerto Rico?
Monique Mead – Puerto Rico is actually just like being in America, it practically is America since it’s a territory. The only thing that’s different is not seeing my friends and family all the time. But I’m happy that I live in a place that’s easy to get to so I’ll be having plenty of visitors.
RW – How long was your training camp, what were the hardest parts and the parts you liked the best?
MM – The first day I got down here, we had practice. I pretty much dropped off my bags at our apartment and went to practice. We had about three weeks’ worth of practice, and then we had our first match on Jan. 25. Surprisingly, the practices and workouts are very similar to my collegiate ones. The hardest part was playing with all new teammates and learning the new systems both offensively and defensively. But I would also have to say that’s the part I enjoy the most. Playing at the next level is definitely a great experience, and learning new things will only help me get better.
RW – Are you home sick at all?
MM –I haven’t gotten homesick quite yet. With the beaches and pools and malls, I’d say I’m enjoying myself. But like I said before I definitely miss my friends and family. My parents get here in a few weeks and I have five or six friends who will be coming to visit throughout my stay, so hopefully I won’t get too homesick.
RW – When does your season start and end, how many games will you play, where will you travel?
MM – My first game was on the 25th of January and the playoffs start in April. We play about 25 matches (give or take) during the season. We play all over the island, and we’ll play every team in the league several times before the playoffs begin.
RW – How does volleyball in Puerto Rico differ from that off the U.S., and college vs. professional?
MM – The level of play is definitely the highest I’ve seen being a collegiate athlete. There are some true athletes playing here. It’s a lot different from what I’m used to because it’s not like college where you spend a majority of your time with your teammates and those are your closest friends. Instead the only interaction I have with my teammates is during practice. Most of my teammates have jobs, children, school, etc. so they have a lot on their plates during the day. As far as Puerto Rico differing from pro volleyball elsewhere I’m not sure, but I do know that the season here consists of four months, while in Europe it’s closer to nine.
RW – What is your favorite thing about the culture there?
MM – I love how diverse the culture is here. Like I said, it’s very similar to living in the U.S., but there are some differences. One obvious difference is the language, which I try to learn when I can. I’m always asking people how to say this and that. Spanish is definitely something that I want to learn more of while I’m living here.
RW – Does your family plan on visiting?
MM – Yes both my parents will be down here mid-February, so I’m excited about that. They will stay for about a week. I’m sure it won’t be their only visit though. My sister and brother-in-law may not be able to make it down since one is in medical school and the other is in law school. They both have pretty busy and tough schedules.
RW – Describe a typical day in your life now.
MM – A typical day here is pretty nice. During the week we only practice at night (7:30) so we have most of the day off. Usually my roommates go to the beach, pool, mall, movies, etc., since everything is so close to us. San Juan is only about 10-15 minutes from where our apartment is so that’s nice. On the weekends we practice in the morning around 10 a.m., then have the rest of the day off. When we have games, we usually relax before we prepare to drive to our game whether it’s home or away.
RW – Is the experience what you expected so far?
MM – This is definitely what I wanted and expected, probably more. I feel like I’m on vacation except I still get to play. I love my experience so far.
RW – Where do you live and describe the neighborhood.
MM – I live in a three-story apartment with my two roommates. One went to Dayton and actually knows our men’s basketball coach Brian Gregory who was at Dayton before he got to Tech. The other played at Texas Tech. The neighborhood is a nice gated community right across the street from Walmart and the movie theater.
RW – What is the hardest and best parts of living and playing in Puerto Rico?
MM – The best part? Definitely the weather. It’s 80-plus degrees every day, and for the most part sunny and clear skies. The hardest part? Probably the way people drive. If you think ‘I’m a “not-so-good” driver’, just wait until you get here. Stop signs, red lights and right-of-way are all up for discussion and debatable whether they are laws or simply suggestions. I’ve learned to be extra aggressive and cautious at the same time. No time for wimps on the road. But the fact that that is the toughest thing about living here shows just how nice and enjoyable it is to play here.