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Dec. 28, 2012

Jon Cooper, Sting Daily –

It’s fitting that when Monique Mead takes the court for her first professional match in Puerto Rico in a couple of days — she heads there on Wednesday — she will do so as a member of a team called Las Gigantes, the Giants.

Mead, who will play from January through April (ideally, May with Playoffs) with Las Gigantes de Carolina (pronounced Cah-ro-lee-na), was a giant in her four years, in Carolina (North and South)…and Maryland…and Virginia…and Florida…and Massachusetts, and, of course, Atlanta, Georgia. She was four-time All-ACC (the 13th player in conference history and fourth in Georgia Tech history to do so), a four-time AVCA All-American (honorable mention her first three seasons and third-team as a senior) and left Tech as its all-time leader in kills (1,918), as well as passing the 2,000-point and 1,000-digs barriers.

She was as successful in the classroom, graduating with a B.S. in business administration with a concentration in marketing. She won’t need those marketing skills right off, just those on-court ones, as she embarks on her pro career in Puerto Rico then, hopefully Europe.

Mead took a few minutes to chat with Sting Daily about her tremendously rewarding conclusion to her calendar year, one that saw her leave Atlanta with numerous records, a prestigious degree and a great start on her professional career.

STING DAILY: What were your fondest memories from graduation?

Monique Mead: Graduation was great. I got to graduate with two of my teammates, Bailey [Hunter] and Annie [Czarnecki], so that was really nice. A lot of my family came down and we had a nice graduation party. It was really nice having all my family and friends there to celebrate with me. My mom and my dad were there and my sister, who got married this past summer, so she and her husband were there, along with my grandparents, my aunt, and four of my uncles. You only have like seven or eight tickets, so I didn’t have as many people as I would have liked but afterwards we had a big party at my house so all my family and friends were there.

SD: Describe the feeling of taking the walk across the stage at McCamish Pavilion.

MM: It was awesome. I hadn’t really been down on the court with the lights down before. I’ve only watched it from the stands. So to be down there, with the spotlight on us and then to have my name announced and walk across that stage, in the new arena, to be the first class to graduate in that arena was awesome.

SD: Has it sunk in that your college days are over?

MM: It’s weird that it’s over. When you’re in it, it seems like everything takes forever. But then once you’re finished, it was like, ‘Man, where did the time go?’ But I definitely had a great experience at Tech. Playing was a blast. I loved playing and traveling and playing within the ACC and playing at O’Keefe was great. It was a great experience.
SD: Have you had a chance to put your career in perspective?

MM: My dad had told me earlier in the year how many [kills] I needed to break the record. That really was a great experience. I’m excited to be the all-time kill leader and it kind of seems weird a little bit because it’s not something I expected to happen coming into my career at Tech. But I’m happy that it happened.

SD: What do you remember of your final match and did you have a parting message for the rest of the team?

MM: Definitely the end of the season was not how I hoped and how I’d wished it would have ended. I was definitely pretty upset to have lost in three against Clemson but you win and you lose. That’s part of volleyball. There’s a new senior class coming up. They definitely have a lot to learn from from our experience and I really hope that they take advantage of their next season coming up, the rest of the time that they have.

SD: How did the process of going to play professionally in Puerto Rico come about?

MM: Obviously you can’t talk to any agents until after your season is over. So when my season ended, [Head Coach] Tonya [Johnson] got a few calls and a few e-mails. She found out that a team from Puerto Rico wanted me to play on their team. Puerto Rico is definitely where I wanted to play. It was somewhere that’s an easy change to make going to pro volleyball than having to go overseas. The serves are still the same, there’s only a one-hour time difference, plus it’s pretty easy to get there. So it’s nice to be able to play somewhere that’s easily accessible and where I can still talk to everyone and still see my family and friends. So I’m excited to go. I’m going to be there until April or May. The regular season is until April, the playoffs start in May.

SD: Have you ever been to Puerto Rico?

MM: I haven’t, so it’s going to be my first time being there. I’ve heard great things about it, though. Our basketball team goes there every year and I have a couple of family and friends that have been there, too, and they only have great things to say about it. So I’m really excited.

SD: Have you made plans beyond that season?

MM: I have a whole plan to go somewhere in Europe and I think that season starts after the Puerto Rican season is over. So I’ll finish up in May, hopefully we make the playoffs, and then after I finish with that, the European season starts, I want to say sometime in August. I get a little bit of break and then I’ll be gone for that season after that.

SD: You’re okay putting the job search on hold for now?

MM: I feel like I have a job now but not, obviously, in the business world, but in the sports world. You get paid to do something you love, which is volleyball, so I’m going to do that. That’s my new job. Of course, when I come back to America I’m going to have to look for a job in the corporate world but until volleyball’s over I don’t have to worry about that too much.


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