Aug. 27, 2008
Sophomore Gabi Ailes, Stanford's libero, hails from Bellevue West High School just south of Omaha, Neb. This week, the 2006 Gatorade State Player of the Year will be making a return trip to her home state when Stanford takes on Nebraska and Texas as part of the Runza/AVCA Showcase at the Qwest Center in Omaha. As a freshman last year, Gabi shattered the school's single-season (533) and single-match (31) dig records and led the team to the NCAA title match. A Pac-10 All-Freshman honoree in 2007, Ailes averaged a team-best 4.26 dpg and will look to anchor a strong veteran defense this year.
Describe your hometown. What do you miss most about it? Where is the first place you always go when you go home? What is the biggest difference between California and Nebraska? Were you a Nebraska volleyball fan growing up?
I was born in a really small town, Nebraska City, Nebraska. My mom, sister, and I moved to Bellevue when I was nine basically for the love of volleyball. Living in a bigger city opened the doors to a bigger and better future.
What I miss most about Nebraska is my family. My family was always there for me cheering at every game and waiting at home to either celebrate the win or help me with the losses. It is tough going back to the dorm room after a tough loss and not being able to sit down with mom and talk.
The first place I usually visit in Nebraska, besides my house, is my high school. I love walking into the gym and reliving the past. My teammates and I had a great four years in that gym and that is probably the place where I spent most of my time.
There are many differences between California and Nebraska but the biggest ones are probably the weather and the way people dress and act. California is a very liberal state and I have encountered many eye-opening experiences on campus in the past year. Before visiting Stanford, I had never stepped foot in California. The weather is what made me want to come here. I hate the cold and snow!
I was a Nebraska volleyball fan until the age of about nine. That is when Stanford took over. I always had this big dream of moving away and going to Stanford. I never really followed Stanford until I was recruited, other than watching the national championship matches every year and seeing them win a lot of them.
What are your plans for after you graduate?
At this point I am unsure about what I want to do with my future. It kind of scares me, because I am very driven and goal-oriented. In the past couple of months, I have really thought about doing a nursing program after graduating from Stanford. I am definitely a "people person" and I love helping others. I found this sheet of paper that I had to fill out my freshman year of high school and one of the questions on it was "What do you see as your future?" My answer was, "I am going to play volleyball for the University of Stanford and become a Registered Nurse." Well, part of that came true!
Explain your superstition about the number nine.
When I was about five or six I went to my first State Volleyball Championship match to watch my aunt play and she was number nine. Ever since then, I have worn the number nine. I have played volleyball for a very long time, and I only remember two years where I didn't get to wear number nine! I believe I started wearing the number nine at the age of six. In warm-ups, I usually do things nine times, when asked to do ten reps. I had a lot of superstitions, but most of them went away when I started playing for Stanford. Last year, I watered my lucky bamboo plant before every game. I always dance in the locker room to get excited before games.
When did you start playing volleyball? What are your first memories?
I started playing club volleyball at the age of six. My sister is three years older than me and my mom took me to the club tryout that year to sit and watch with her. My mom got tired of babysitting me so she paid the ten dollar try out fee and I made the team! I believe I was on the 12-4's or something like that. I only remember one tournament from that year, and the only reason I remember it is because I didn't know how to serve and I was so embarrassed every time it was my turn to go back and serve. My first memory playing volleyball goes back to 1994. I was four and a half and Nebraska Football was playing for the national championship. During halftime, my mom would "pepper" with me.
What are you NOT good at?
I am not good at talking on the phone. I am probably one of the most awkward people to talk to. I don't talk when I am on phone.
What is your most prized possession?
So this one is deep. My most prized possession is my memories. Everyone has their own story. I love hearing where people came from and what they have been through.
What's the best vacation you've ever taken?
My best vacation was to Las Vegas. This was a recent vacation for a Vegas wedding on 8/8/08.
What's been your best memory so far with Stanford volleyball?
My best memory with Stanford Volleyball would be our golf outings last spring. It was funny to take on a different sport and see how everyone reacted. There were a lot of laughs and a lot of competitive attitudes.