#78: Personal Growth

[Breana Kuhlman] Thanks for joining us on Fox Sports 11, I'm Breana Kuhlman.

[Luis Haynes] And I'm Luis Haynes.

[BK] And we're live at the Coastside Invitational Beach Volleyball Tournament.

[LH] C-I-B-V-T!

[BK] Love the enthusiasm, Luis. And we've got reason to be excited, because a special guest joins us today.

[LH] Very special!

[BK] Former Durrenburg volleyball standout, three time All-American, and two-time NCAA Player-of-the-Year.

[LH] Not-to-mention second-tallest living woman in North America!

[BK] Um, okay. Whitley Valentine!

[Whitley Valentine] Hey.

[LH] Hi Whitley!

[WV] Hello, Luis.

[BK] It's great to have you with us today. Are you enjoying the tournament so far?

[WV] I am. I got in late Friday afternoon, so I missed day one, but I caught two matches yesterday. I also had the honor and pleasure of leading clinics for an awesome and talented group of young volleyball players.

[LH] I hear you had a few evening engagements as well...

[WV] Yup. It’s been a loaded day.

[BK] What matches did you catch yesterday?

[WV] I saw the first Melendez/Belo match. It's always great to see my old U-18 USA girls in action.

[BK] Are they your favorites to win the tournament?

[WV] I'm not going to pretend to be up-to-speed with the beach volleyball world, so I won't make any predictions. I will say that if they beat the Cibulka/Eastings duo they're doin' something right. That pair is something else.

[BK] Certainly impressive. Did you catch that match?

[WV] I didn't, but I ran into Berenika later and we had a chance to get to know each other.

[BK] The two of you have a lot in common: NCAA standouts, power hitters, athletic—

[LH] Late growth spurt.

[WV] We do have that in common. Though I still have eight inches on her, so she's got a little ways to go.

[BK] She certainly had an impressive showing against Belo & Melendez with—

[LH] Did you say eight inches?

[BK] Luis, I think Whitley would rather discuss—

[WV] Yes, I'm seven-foot-four.

[LH] H-holy shit!

[BK] Luis!

[WV] Whoa! Is he allowed to say that?

[LH] You're seven foot four! Holy sh—um, cow! You're the tallest woman alive!

[WV] I don't really follow tall-people news.

[BK] Neither do I, but anyways back to the—

[LH] Seven foot four! That's incredible!

[BK] Luis, thank you! To the viewers at home, we’re sorry for that outburst.

[LH] Sorry about that!

[BK] Whitley, I apologize for the digression.

[WV] It's cool. I said I wouldn't answer height-related questions. I can bring it up myself, yeah?

[BK] That's fair. I imagine it’s a conversation you don't often get to start.

[WV] Ninety-nine out of a hundred times, someone starts it for me. So, this is a bit different.

[LH] So, while on the subject of—

[BK] —changing things up, let me ask: is there anything else you'd like to share today?

[WV] While we're being candid, I would like to talk about my growth over the past year.

[LH] Wait, what?

[BK] I assume you mean personal growth.

[WV] I do.

[LH] But in a metaphorical sense, since you're also, literally—

[BK} Luis...

[WV] You see, I didn't just grow taller.

[LH] Though it is incredible that you did and still are.

[WV] I grew as a person. My life's been 100% volleyball for eight years. After getting sent home by Team USA for acting like a clown, I had a hard time adjusting to ordinary life.

[BK] Of course.

[WV] I struggled. I didn't know what to do with myself. And I was in a haze when I moved to Northshore.

[LH] <snickers>

[BK] <clears throat>

[WV] Fortunately, not long after I arrived, I met two amazing women who have been by my side through this whole, awkward transition period of my life and career. I'd like to give them a shout-out.

[LH] You don't mean...

[WV] They accepted me as I was and made me feel at home, while also encouraging me to find my place in their system.

[BK] That takes a lot of trust.

[WV] Now, don't get me wrong, I stepped outta line plenty, and they've had to set me straight more than a few times.

[LH] I would have loved to see that.

[WV] But it was because, without realizing it, I'd learned to trust them. I want them to know I have the utmost respect for what they do and what they've accomplished. Despite what a pain in the ass I can be, I hope they know that.

[BK] That's beautiful.

[LH] So, are you going to plug your guys' Instagram, or…

[WV] I'm sorry?

[LH] Wait, who are you talking about?

[BK] The NU coaching staff, Coaches Richter and Nakahara. Correct?

[WV] <drinking water> Hm? Mmhmm.

[LH] Oh! I thought you were talking about your, uh, Instagram...

[WV] I'm sorry, what?

[LH] ...

[BK] So, Whitley. Any other highlights to share from this weekend?

[LH] You were saying you met with Berenika Cibulka. Tell us more about that.

[BK] If you'd like.

[LH] Did you have a nice time with her?

[WV] I did. We even started out the night with a little one-on-one.

[LH] Excuse me?

[BK] Are you willing to tell us the final score?

[WV] Let's just just say I put on three clinics this weekend.

[BK] You've still got that competitive spirit.

[LH] And you spent time together afterwards?

[BK] Of course, you don't have to tell us.

[WV] We connected over a lot of shared experiences.

[BK] You are both strong, outspoken, powerful—

[LH] Very tall.

[BK] —women.

[WV] You know, Luis. We did talk about our growth a little bit.

[BK] Personal growth?

[WV] No, I mean getting taller. Because we're both still growing.

[LH] Yes you are!

[WV] It's not something I normally bring up but, as I mentioned earlier, I don't normally get to control the conversation.

[LH] You have my full attention.

[WV] I think people assume that being tall is always an asset—on the court and in life. But if you're an athlete, knowing your body is the greatest asset of all. Having it constantly changing makes it so much harder to actually get there— to get comfortable with yourself.

[LH] Because you're growing.

[BK] Luis...

[WV] Berenika told me she grew three inches in her freshman season. I've never even grown that fast.

[LH] That. Is. Phenomenal.

[BK] Not to mention the social implications. I'm only five-nine and I'm afraid to wear heels on a date.

[WV] I'm seven-four. What's a few extra inches?

[LH] A lot!

[WV] When you look like I do, it's an undertaking and a half to even have a say in your own narrative. So thank you, Breana, for giving me the chance to be real with you about being really, freaking tall and still getting taller.

[BK] You're welcome, Whitley. Luis, did you—oh, my.

[LW] <glances at the crotch of his shorts> Wha—oh, fuck.


[WV] Okay, he's definitely not allowed to say that.

[BK] I apologize, ladies and gentlemen. Luis, if you need to step away...

[LH] Excuse me. <Luis cheats away from the camera and steps off the set>

[WV] Is he okay?

[BK] He'll be fine. Hey, we're about out of time. It's been an enlightening and eventful interview. Thanks for joining us, Whitley.

[WV] My pleasure, Breana.

[BK] I'm Breana Kuhlman.

[WV] —and I'm Whitley Valentine

[BK] On Fox Sports 11. Now, back to the tournament!