She is a member of the 2012 Big 12 All-Freshman Team, 2013 First Team All-Big 12, 2014 AVCA Third Team All- America, 2015 First Team All-Big 12, a six-time member of the Academic All-Big 12 First Team, and a four-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. The list goes on and on for Molly McCage, a middle blocker for the No. 3 Texas volleyball team. She was recently named one of 10 finalists for the Senior Class Award, the nation’s most-renowned award for senior student-athletes across the nation, which recognizes athletic, academic, and philanthropic accomplishment. Whether it be on the court, in the classroom, or in the community, McCage excels, which is why she was chosen as our Fall 2015 Sports Campus Influencer. Sports editor Rahul Naik sat down with the corporate communication senior to discover the fuel that drives the star Longhorn.
Interview by Rahul Naik
Photos by Joshua Guerra
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO PLACE FOR TEXAS?
To play for Texas is to represent something bigger than myself. I knew, coming here, that the tradition for any athletic sport was to work hard and to uphold the tradition here. You know, you’re put up on a pedestal already, as an athlete. That means you work hard in your academics, you work hard on the court, and you try everything you can to succeed. And, I think that was a gift to myself, just having the best coaching staff, the best teammates around, the best counselor around, so it’s great.
HOW MUCH DID IT MEAN TO YOU TO BE NOMINATED FOR THE SENIOR CLASS AWARD?
I think it’s cool because it looks at not just your athletic achievements. Here, athletes are stressed to get involved with their community and try hard in the classroom. I think that I’ve always been that Type A person, and I think that it’s cool to be recognized for not just your height or your athletic abilities.
THE 2012 SEASON WAS PROBABLY PRETTY CRAZY FOR YOU. YOU CAME IN AS ONE OF THE HIHEST- RANKED FRESHMEN IN THE NATION, BECAME A STARTED, AND THEN WON A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. HOW CRAZY WAS IT TO EXPERIENCE THAT IN YOUR FIRST COLLEGE SEMESTER?
It was a lot. I mean, my freshman year was not easy, and I know now the things I wish I would’ve known. But I think at the time, I had really good upperclassmen, and they were like, “Just do you. You don’t have to do anything else. Just play, we’ll handle the rest.” I didn’t even realize there were so many other things we had to deal with. Now I do, but they were good about that. They told me that I didn’t have to be spectacular, just consistent, and that’s what I wanted to be for my team.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OFF- THE-COURT ACTIVITIES YOU GET INVOLVED WITH IN YOUR FREE TIME?
Well, our team is huge on volunteering, especially this year. Mirta Baselovic, one of our sophomores, her and I are the student-athlete representatives, and this Sunday we volunteered at Orange Santa, we did the Longhorn Halloween, and we’re just really involved in giving back. I mean, we have so many fans come to our games, and we see all these little girls, and it’s so cool to see them light up, you know, because then they come to our games. We need them as fans. I also spend a lot of time reading, probably reading that I shouldn’t do; I should probably be reading for class. That, and spending time with my roommates (Amy Neal and Kat Brooks), who are also my teammates. I don’t actually get sick of them. They’re actually nice people.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ON- COURT MEMORY?
Oh, okay, I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s my favorite. When we beat Nebraska in 2013 in three on their home court to go to the Final Four, not only did we have Cane’s in the locker room waiting for us, but Nathan Mendoza, our director of operations, danced on the court. It was hilarious! He’s so funny. He did his little “Nathan shuffle.” I love that moment.
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT ALMOST NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT YOU?
Oh, gosh...oh I don’t know. I am a very open person. I mean, I do have a journal, and all those thoughts are in my journal – all the things that I don’t want to share with people and just things I want to share with myself later on. I don’t know, I think part of college is just to figure out what are the things you want to share with people and what are the things you don’t want to? And I’m still figuring that out, you know, even though I’m about to leave.
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO BALANCE VOLLEYBALL WITH ACADEMICS, SOCIAL LIFE, FRIENDS AND FAMILY?
There are some things that you just have to give up, and I knew that coming in. In high school, I did too, so it’s not a huge problem. I do have a couple of friends here that are not volleyball players that I played with in high school that just stopped playing or that I just went to school with. And I don’t see them often, but they’ve been great, like, I’ll see them once a year, and they’ll still be my friends. I do have a very planned out calendar, so I keep everything written down because I have a ton of appointments and stuff to make. I do try to squeeze in time for social life, but at the same time, I love to sleep, so I would rather sleep.
DURING THE SEASON WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY IN THE LIFE OF MOLLY MCCAGE LOOK LIKE?
This year, since I’m a senior, class doesn’t start till 10 a.m. I tried to get the later classes. So, I go to class from like 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Then, we go to our dining hall, which is in the North End Zone, and I eat lunch. After that, we usually have practice in our facility in B2, which is new and opened this February. And then we practice from about 1-4:30 p.m. After that, we go to weights, which lasts till like 5:30 p.m., and then I go to the dining hall, back upstairs. We literally just stay in the North End Zone. I eat dinner, and then I usually either head to study hall, or I just go home and do homework.
WHAT’S IS ON OF YOUR PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS?
What’s really cool are all the little, tiny things. So, what sticks out to me right now is our athletics doctor, Dr. Bray, has a daughter, and she came to a game, and she’s deaf. She’s just always been kind of quiet. He told me that she’s not very outgoing, and I had no idea. She came to the game, and there were kids on the court to sing “The Eyes of Texas” with us. And she was just standing there by herself, so I just grabbed her and asked her to sing “The Eyes of Texas” and she did. I had no idea that little moment had such a big impact on her because then she went home and told Dr. Bray that it meant so much to her, and it’s so cool be on the court and interact with girls like that. I had no idea, so it’s just those little, tiny things.
WHATISTHE#MONDAYSWITHMILLY HASHTAG ON TWITTER?
Oh! So, Susie, our media lady, posts #MondaysWithMolly on Twitter and Instagram every Monday. People just submit their questions, and every Monday, I just answer their questions. It’s mostly about, like, how do I increase my vertical or how do I get recruited at Texas? But then there are some that are cool, like there’s one fan that knows that I love Harry Potter, so he’ll ask a really detailed Harry Potter question. So it’s like cool questions that I get to interact with the fans, you know.
WHAT DOES YOUR SPRING SEMESTER LOOK LIKE CONSIDERING YOU WON’T HAVE VOLLEYBALL IN THE FOLD?
I don’t know, there are so many things I’ve wanted to try on campus that I haven’t been able to do and so many people I want to hang out with that I haven’t been able to see, so it’s kind of like the first day of college again. I want to play professionally, but it’s tricky because their season starts in August usually overseas, since they don’t have professional volleyball here. And so, sometimes they let Americans come in January, but I’m not graduating till May. So, I’d have to come back, and it’d be tricky. I do want to graduate, whether that’s going there or staying here. If I don’t leave, I want to get an internship. I’ve spoken to Train 4 the Game to do sports performance training, but I’m also a communications major, so I’m trying to find something that’s kind of related to my major instead of just volleyball all the time.
WHAT WOULD YOUR IDEAL POST- COLLEGE LIFE LOOK LIKE?
Oh gosh, I would love to play for as long as my body lets me – and play in different countries. I don’t want to just stay in one. My friend, Khat Bell is in Korea right now. I have a couple friends in China or France or just playing in a different country. It’s such a different volleyball world that I haven’t been a part of, so I just want to experience it all. And plus, you get to travel, so why not? And then, maybe come back and just work for a marketing firm here in Austin or Denver, wherever life takes me, you know.
WHO HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ROLE MODELS THROUGHOUT YOUR LIFE?
My sister, my sister’s huge. She’s 30 right now, eight years older than I am, and she’s just extremely strong- willed, and she will get anything done. She gets things done, but she’s also extremely caring to the people who have ever been in her life, so I’ve been looking up to her my whole life. She’s my best friend. Also, in a way, I look up to my teammates around me. There are certain things that I would not have handled well, and my teammates do. Amy (Neal), whenever Jerritt keeps yelling at her, she just stays so calm, and she doesn’t let drama affect her. She’s always herself, and that’s one thing I look to her for. Nicole Dalton is one of my best friends. She’s extremely positive about everything, despite her three surgeries, despite everything that’s gone on in her life. But she’s still so positive. Yeah, my sister and my friends.