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On the Court Q&A: Nae Nae Calhoun

By Tiff Wells | October 12, 2020

Fans of a school see the athletes perform on game night and that’s about it. They read up about them in articles, see videos on social media or see the player bios on the schools’ website. But how do we ​really get to know about these players? By having them answer the questions first-hand of course! With college sports set to begin later this month, just how are UH athletes getting ready? What are they thinking? What do they like? In this debut of On the Court Q&A, we go full court press with Sophomore Point Guard Nae Nae Calhoun from Women’s Basketball.

What was the biggest transition for you from High School Basketball to Division I College Basketball?
My biggest transition from high school to college was the pace of the game , the pace of the game was a lot faster and other guards were quicker.
You started as a true freshman against San Diego State, taking over the Point Guard reigns from Tia Kanoa. Were you nervous on game day leading up to tip off? How did you calm yourself down? Was there a “welcome to college basketball” moment during that game?
I was very nervous even entering the arena for my first official game, but Coach Beeman calmed me down.She was telling me it’s another game and I had put in the work leading upto this moment so just have fun! My first turn over I had during that game was my “ welcome to college basketball” the passes I made in high school were not the passes I could make, that’s when I knew it was big girl basketball!
What’s the best part about playing for Hawai`i?
The best part about playing for Hawai’i is the support we get from our fans throughout the islands. I love feeling the aloha in the arena and knowing that my family isn’t coming to the game but the Hawai’i ‘ohana will be there cheering and rooting us on. That feeling will never get old!
Named to the Big West Conference All-Freshman Team, broke the UH freshman record for assists with 104, started all 29 games. Personally, is that how you saw your first year in college playing out?
Honestly , I came in with the mindset that I have big shoes to feel after Tia left. I knew I had a lot to work on to be as good and effective like she was as the starting point guard. So with that mindset I knew I was going to contribute a lot but I didn’t know it would be that early. Getting familiar with the sets, and trusting my teammates made the transition easier.
Describe the off-season training once the season came to the abrupt end in March during the Big West Conference Tournament?
OOF. It was very tough trying to find a gym to get in, and trying to do things in my backyard to get my footwork better. But, I was working out at parks with some of my trainers. My uncles took me to get my speed and agility down, and we ended up getting weight lifting supplies so I was lifting weights too. It was very hard to keep a rhythm, because things kept shutting down but I was always trying to find the next best thing that could benefit me for the upcoming season.

What are the must have items in your carry on bag when you board a plane for a trip to the mainland?

Must haves would be basketball shoes (Currys) mandatory, all the jerseys we wear, travel gear of course, roller for stretching , toothbrush/toothpaste , lotion , and spray on deodorant!
How do you stay physically fit and mentally strong during a global pandemic?
Physically, I go for jogs, core power yoga on YouTube, and just making sure I’m staying active. Go to parks that are open, get workouts in and if they aren’t open, ask our trainer to send workouts that you can do at home. Mentally, it has been hard for me but the main thing is just worrying about the things that I can control! I try to live in the moment and not in the past or figure out the future. Keeping God close with me and praying has kept my mental strength everyday.
Playing for Hawai`i, what was it like to play for the first time in your hometown of Riverside, California when y’all took on the Highlanders?
It was the BEST feeling ever. To be back home, and playing in front of family and friends like old times made me miss home. I loved every bit of that road trip and it was very special cause it was my first time ever playing in that gym , and I grew up watching other people play there. So that game will forever be in my memories marked as one of the best!
In your family, who is the best cook? And when you go home for a visit, what are a couple of dishes you request the parentals make?
Best cook goes to my nana (my grandma from my moms side). A couple dishes ooh that’s hard, I’m going with fish fries, and salad. Then my favorite of all-time, chicken tacos!
Favorite part about the following people: Erin Tillman? Jason Hill? Teneshia Ruff? Paris Johnson? Khalilah Mitchell? Alex Delanian? Laura Beeman?
Erin is an amazing trainer, she makes sure we are at our best on and off the floor. There is no one like ET in the trainer’s field. Jason Hill is always there to help with anything, rebounding for you, he is there, helping with different options in plays, he is there. TT she is very informative and I love that about her, she will let you know what it is. She is very helpful with so much and I appreciate her more than she knows. Coach P, she is a defensive guru, I love that we both enjoy defense and can connect on that level. Coach K, that is my right hand, she is always trying to get me better in all aspects of my game. She calls you on your stuff, but most importantly is coaching you up on the better plays we can make! Her IQ is amazing and it’s rubbing off on me already. Coach Alex, when I’m having a rough day i just look at him and we laugh. He can get on my nerves but I know what he is saying is true and going to help benefit my game for the better. Love hate relationship with him. Coach B, she trusts me and I trust her. She is an amazing person on and off the court. There is so much about her that I admire. My favorite thing about coach B is when she gives us a talk before the game. She is truthful and gets you ready for war and she is one person I would go to war behind.
The NCAA gave a November 25​th​ start date for college basketball. Just how excited are you for that date and even with no announced schedule yet, how is the team with so many newcomers getting ready for it?
Just knowing we have something to look forward to is something to be excited for! Knowing we will have a season, gets everyone excited and even more eager to work. We are handling the newcomers well , we have been able to get a rhythm and figure things out. Of course, it is going to be hard and stressful at times but I think that is what makes us stronger as a team.
We thank you for your time today Nae. Finally, take us through a typical gameday…both here at home and on the road?
My game days on the road and at home are very similar: Pregame warmups, I have to make a layup and free throw before we leave. Come back to the hotel, shower, get ready for team meal / film, go back to my room take a nap before we leave for the game. Listen to my hype music, say a prayer and sing we ready with the team. But at home games after I shower I have to put on a fit to show coach k my outfit and shoes. I can’t wear the same shoes twice just to make a fashion statement. Then she hypes me up and gets me going for the day.