7'2" Questions with Whitley Valentine

[We join Whitley Valentine in the living room of a bright, spacious Northshore Heights apartment]

The Decree: Good afternoon, Whitley. Thank you for joining us.

Whitley Valentine: Thanks for having me.

Decree: Is this your apartment?

Whitley: Is that the first question?

Decree: Um...sure?

Whitley: Nope. It is definitely not my apartment. It'd be great if it was, though. Right?

Decree: Absolutely! So, describe your ideal home.

Whitley: [Whitley stands, extending her arms] It would be similar to this: spacious with high ceilings. I'd add mounted speakers in every room for music and a HUGE bathroom.

Decree: Would you say you’re messy or neat?

Whitley: Neat. I take up too much space to be messy.

Decree: What's the quickest way to make you happy?

Whitley: Free food. [Whitley selects an apple from a bowl of fruit on the table]

Decree: What's the most impressive eating feat you've pulled off?

Whitley: Never having been overweight.

Decree: What's your secret?

Whitley: Stay active, don't eat crap and put all your calories towards something constructive [Whitley finishes her apple in three bites].

Decree: What's your favorite height you've been?

Whitley: The one I am.

Decree: How tall is too tall?

Whitley: Taller than me.

Decree: What's the best thing about being very tall?

Whitley: The perspective

Decree: What's the worst thing about being very tall?

Whitley: The perspective.

Decree: Care to elaborate?

Whitley: Nope.

Decree: Fair enough. Are you still growing?

Whitley: [Whitley pauses] Yes.

Decree: How fast?

Whitley: [Grins] Ah ah! I gave you five height questions!

Decree: You got us.

[We follow Whitley into a large adjacent room which is mostly empty, save for a bin of sports equipment. Whitley extracts a volleyball, spinning it on her finger]

Decree: Let's talk sports. Do you remember what initially drew you to volleyball?

Whitley: [Whitley easily palms the ball] Spiking.

Decree: What do you love the most about volleyball now?

Whitley: The teamwork. Good teamwork is beautiful to watch.

Decree: Name three of your volleyball heroes.

Whitley: Mireya Luis, Ekaterina Gamova, Foluke Akinradewo

Decree: What's your pre-game routine?

Whitley: After running the standard drills with the team, I fit in my own spiking drills and coordination exercises.

[Whitley hits the ball across the room, striking a white "x" taped on the opposite wall, dead center]

Whitley: ...basically, get my hands on the ball as much as possible.

Decree: Favorite music for right before a game?

[Whitley queues up Missy Elliot's "WTF" on her phone]

Decree: Nice. Did you ever play basketball?

Whitley: I did. I played from elementary school through eighth grade.

Decree: Center?

Whitley: Shooting guard, which I played all through middle school and junior high.

Decree: After volleyball, what's your second-favorite sport to play?

Whitley: [Chuckles] Beach volleyball.

Decree: What's your least-favorite sport to watch?

Whitley: Baseball

Decree: You mentioned this was your first time coaching.

Whitley: Yes, it is indeed.

Decree: What’s the hardest thing about coaching?

Whitley: Being a motivator.

Decree: What's the most rewarding thing about coaching?

Whitley: When your players exceed your expectations.

Decree: What's your goal for the team this year?

Whitley: For the players to exceed their expectations.

Decree: Non-sports, non-food accomplishment you are most proud of.

Whitley: One of my editorials was a finalist for the 2015 Midwestern College Media Awards.

Decree: Who's your favorite musician currently?

Whitley:  Janelle Monae

Decree: Favorite author?

Whitley: Shonda Rhimes

Decree: Favorite movie?

Whitley: I'm not really big into movies, but I recently saw Hidden Figures with my roommates and that was pretty good.

Decree: Place you've been you never ever expected to go.

Whitley: I once literally spent a night in Tunisia.

Decree: Plane, train, or automobile?

Whitley: Car, definitely. Particularly when it's my car and I'm driving. Planes are the worst.

Decree: Favorite cartoon when you were in elementary school?

Whitley: Hey Arnold!

Decree: What was the last text message you received?

Whitley: My roommate sent me a dinner update with pictures.

Decree: Hidden talent?

Whitley: It's hardly hidden, but I've always been proud of my setting.

Decree: Are you a multi-tasker?

Whitley: [Whitley reclines on the couch, raises her arms, and begins setting the ball repeatedly to herself] Maybe. Let's find out.

Decree: How about some word association? Peanut butter:

Whitley: Jelly time.

Decree: Technology:

Whitley: Mobile.

Decree: Animal:

Whitley: Farm.

Decree: Board game:

Whitley: Checkers.

Decree: How many times have you set the ball?

Whitley: ...eleven, twelve, thirteen. [Whitley catches the ball and sets it on the couch next to her] Yes, I can multi-task.

Decree: What's your favorite city you've been to?

Whitley: Memphis. I have family from there, and the barbeque is off the hook.

Decree: Do you speak another language?

Whitley: Ich spreche Deutsch, aber nicht mehr so gut.

Decree: Who is your role model?

Whitley: Candace Parker and my mother.

Decree: We're going to buy you a free coffee at a coffee shop. What's your order?

Whitley: Black coffee. Largest size you have.

Decree: Name a hist—

Whitley: I'm holding you to that coffee, by the way.

Decree: Feel free to. Name a historical figure you'd like to have coffee with.

Whitley: Zora Neale Hurston.

Decree: If you could spend 3 months anywhere, where would it be?

Whitley: Summer on a beach house in Santa Barbara.

Decree: Bath or shower?

Whitley: Baths are wonderful, just get me a tub I can stretch out in.

Decree: Favorite clothing item?

Whitley: The one pair of jeans I own that fit.

Decree: Favorite website?

Whitley: Netflix.

Decree: Are you bingeing any show right now?

Whitley: Luke frickin' Cage. [fans self] Mike Colter. Oh. My God.

Decree: Who did you look up to when you were in high school?

Whitley: In terms of individuals I knew personally: increasingly few people until eventually no one.

Decree: Is that literal or figurative?

Whitley: Yes.

Decree: First kiss: romantic, awkward, or other?

Whitley: [Cringes] Awkward. Definitely awkward. As in, he asked me to crouch down, awkward.

Decree: What city were you born in?

Whitley: Bakersfield, California.

Decree: What's an ideal selfie for you?

Whitley: Half a year ago, I would have said "no selfie." Now? Arm stretched out above at a downward angle.

Decree: Most memorable celebrity encounter.

Whitley: [Whitley chuckles, grinning naughtily] Hope Solo.

Decree: We'll Google that later. Do you collect anything?

Whitley: Glass art.

Decree: Name something you tend to forget.

Whitley: Jacket. I have a high tolerance for cold.

Decree: Do you still have your wisdom teeth?

Whitley: I do.

Decree: What was your favorite food when you in elementary school?

Whitley: Salami sandwiches with American cheese.

Decree: Favorite food now?

Whitley: Tacos. I could eat them every meal of every day. Street taco style preferred, but I’m not picky.

Decree: Least favorite food when you were in elementary school?

Whitley: Peas.

Decree: Least-favorite food now?

Whitley: Sweet cereals.

Decree: If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?

Whitley: I truly believe I would look awesome with wings. Functional wings, to be sure.

Decree: If you were asked to adjunct teach a class at Northshore, what would you teach?

Whitley: Non-Fiction Workshop 1.

Decree: When you eventually write your memoirs, what will be the title?

Whitley: "From My Perspective" followed by an ellipsis. Yes, I've thought about this.

Decree: Would you lie in your memoirs to spice them up?

Whitley: No. Most people wouldn't believe half of my true stories anyways.

Decree: Like what?

Whitley: I beat Michelle Wie at mini golf.

Decree: I don't believe that.

Whitley: Ask Carissa Moore. She'll back me up.

Decree: Most flattering thing anyone has said about you.

Whitley: A college article once said: "Whitley Valentine would be every bit as dangerous if she stood a foot-and-a-half shorter." When everyone talks about your physical gifts, it's nice to be acknowledged for otherwise.

Decree: Best news you ever received?

Whitley: Being offered a volleyball scholarship to Durrenburg University.

Decree: We won't ask you the worst news you've ever received.

Whitley: Thank you.

Decree: How about the strangest news you've ever received?

Whitley: I was offered a part-time coaching position at Northshore University

Decree: Alright, last question: If nothing else, what is the one takeaway you want viewers to get from this interview?

Whitley: Everyone should try the super tasty and reasonably-priced daily sandwich specials at the on-campus Sherwood Café near Averill Hall.

Decree: Sounds good. Thanks, Whitley, for joining us.

Whitley: [Whitley bows slightly] My pleasure. Now, speaking of which, I recall something about you buying me food?

Decree: I hear Reubens are the special today at Sherwood.

Whitley: Well played Decree. Well played.

Decree: We try.