Genevieve Florig is a redshirt senior, middle blocker for the UConn volleyball team. As Florig awaits her final season in a Husky uniform, she has had many successes, including playing in 291 sets so far and recording 482 kills. The Daily Campus caught up with the Portland, Ore. native for our Athlete Spotlight series, and got to know her better.
Hanaisha Lewis (DC): When did you start playing volleyball?
Genevieve Florig: I started playing volleyball in seventh grade. I was really, really bad. I tried out for the school team. There was like an A team and a B team. If you were on the A team, then you’re like better than everybody, but if you’re on the B team then it’s like the team that’s worse. I got put on the B team and I basically didn’t take it seriously at all because I was like, “Oh it’s just the B team, it’s fun.” I would mess around all practice long. I had so much fun doing that that I was like “Oh my God, I want to do this forever,” so after that I got moved from the B team to the A team in the middle of the season. I think it’s only because I was tall. I was really excited that I got moved up, then I started training more competitively. I joined a club team the year after that. The first couple of practices I would leave crying every time because I was so bad, but a lot of people really believed in me. I got a lot of encouragement to stick with it and keep pursuing it, especially from my dad, so I did. Once I got over that hurdle of it being really hard and me being underdeveloped compared to the other kids, then I had a breakthrough and I was more receptive to coaching. That’s where I started, and here I am 10 years later.
HL: How has it shaped you into the person that you are today?
GF: When I first started playing, I was very timid. I didn’t really stick up for myself or have the confidence to be a good player. I started to come into myself – in athletics there is a lot of character building that happens – and what happened for me is I started gaining a lot of confidence in my abilities, as a volleyball player and as a person. I also started having this really competitive side to myself and it took over everything in my life. I started being competitive in the classroom, on the court, in all aspects of my life. I need to win. There’s a lot of different things you could say about it like, teamwork, leadership and things like that. I think all are qualities that you learn through playing volleyball or any sport really. For me that’s where I developed, really that confidence piece was big. In life in general, there’s a lot of gender barriers where you feel like you have to act a certain way to fit into feminine standards, but through volleyball I felt like there weren’t those barriers. So I could be loud, strong and powerful and that was okay, but if I tried to go outside of volleyball and be that person it almost felt like society was telling me not to be that person, so I really feel like volleyball was an outlet in that way too.
HL: What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
GF: I really like to cook. It’s so exhilarating putting together an extravagant meal and then at the end it tastes so good. Learning new recipes and stuff is so fun.
HL: What is your go-to meal?
GF: I really like shrimp alfredo.
HL: How’d you spend most of your time during the pandemic?
GF: I spent a lot of time doing self-reflection. I really felt like being in a pandemic and being in quarantine was a really good time to work on myself because I had so much free time. I spent a lot of time reading, meditating, learning about myself, but also I did a lot of stuff for my organization, working to develop it. I also did research on different careers and things I might be interested in to help me prepare for the future.
HL: What is your major and what do you plan on doing with it?
GF: My undergrad I majored in sport management and I loved it so much that I decided to pursue my master’s [degree] in sport management as well, so I’m currently in my first year of the master’s program. I want to do player management, so handle the affairs of professional athletes.
HL: When you were younger what did you want to be when you grew up?
GF: Honestly, I had never known exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I just remember growing up knowing that I wanted to make a lot of money. Growing up, I never had a lot of things. My family did not have money. I would get all of my clothes from a second-hand store and I was so humiliated by it. Thank God for my parents, they gave me everything that I have and not to say that I’m not grateful for that, but from experience I would never want my children to have to go through that. So I was always like “I don’t care what I do as long as I make a lot of money and I can give my children everything that they need.” I never knew exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted to create a better life for my future and the ones who come after me as well.
HL: Do you have any hobbies?
GF: I have so many hobbies. I really like to paint and I’m really into graphic design. I like to spend my free time creating things. Whether it’s drawings, paintings or stuff on the computer, I think it’s so fun to see something in your brain and create it on paper. It’s exhilarating to me, I think it’s so fun. I like to read. I really like to go on walks, sometimes through the forest I just think it’s so relaxing. I also like to swim.
HL: Who do you look up to?
GF: I look up to my dad. He’s one of the most genuine, caring people I’ve ever met. He’s so selfless and everything about him – I could never say a bad word about him because he’s such a genuine person. He’s always putting other people before himself and I always have aspired to be more like him. He’s disabled, so he’s been in a wheelchair for the last five years and he went through a really hard time accepting that this was his reality. I saw him go through a stage where he was very depressed and he didn’t really want to be alive anymore, then he came through that and he was a better person. He was giving to everybody. He decided that he was going to give back to who he could, so he started posting in a Facebook group for disabled people about like how to stay happy and he’s reached so many people by doing that. People would always reach out to him and be like, “Oh my gosh, this post is so amazing and now I know how to –” whatever it may be. He’s just very giving and thinks about other people a lot. He’s inspired me to do so many different things. For volleyball, I would have never gotten to where I am today without him and his support and encouragement.
HL: What are five things that you can’t live without?
GF: Food, actually like going out and eating. I hate to say it, but my phone, how else would I communicate with people? The ocean. Other people, like my friends and stuff. The outdoors.
HL: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why?
GF: Bora Bora. I’ve always wanted to go there. It seems so pretty and tropical.
HL: What are you going to miss most about UConn when you graduate?
GF: Probably Gampel Pavilion. I’ve spent like half my time here in there. I still love it, every time I step into it. There’s just so many good memories. There were some of the best memories that I’ve ever had there. Nothing beats the game day feeling going into Gampel and looking around and seeing everything and there’s so many people out there to support you. So much work goes into behind the scenes and it’s really amazing to see it all come together. And the basketball games in there, too, are pretty lit.
HL: What’s your proudest college moment?
GF: Last season we had a preseason tournament and my dad came and it was also his birthday weekend. I ended up playing really, really well and I got MVP for the tournament and that was a really big moment for me, just because I hadn’t ever gotten that throughout my college career. It felt really good to have my dad there to tell me how proud he was of me. He was the biggest motivator and that’s probably why I played so well because I just wanted to show him what I could do.
HL: If you could play another sport what would it be?
GF: I would either play tennis or basketball. Two completely different sports. First of all, tennis, I think is just so fun, the skirts I love them, and it’s just fun. I think I would be good at it because my arms are long. Also, basketball because I just think it’s lit. It’s so fun to watch. I don’t think I could be good at basketball before when I was competitive or aggressive, but now that I am I would be so good at it.
HL: What do you look forward to when you go home?
GF: In Portland we have the best restaurants. Me and my best friend call ourselves the taco sisters because we’ve basically tried every single taco place in Portland. It’s one of my favorite traditions about coming home. I come home and we’re like, “Okay, tacos tonight?” and we’ll go out and get tacos and we’ll try a new place or a place that we’ve been and we love. That’s literally my favorite thing about going home.
HL: What is your favorite TV show currently?
GF: Love Island.
HL: How do you want to be remembered?
GF: I want to be remembered as a person who was always in good spirits and who was kind. I want to be known as somebody who puts others before myself, so I try to live by that every day by doing things to help other people or make other people happy. I strive to be selfless and that’s the way I want people to remember me, as someone who never stopped giving.