Athlete Spotlight: Kiwi McDaniel

UConn hosts Bryant University for their mid-week game at the Burrill Family Field on Tuesday, Apr. 24. The Huskies cruised to a 4-1 win over the Bulldogs, leading to their second mid-week victory. (Photo by Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

Mike Mavredakis: What is the story behind the name Kiwi?

Kiwi McDaniel: When I was young, I would pile my plate high with all of the kiwis. I would throw away my lunch and just eat the kiwis. Everyone would mess up my name, and it would just drive me nuts. Especially because I was a big basketball player growing up and running around the court the coach is easily like, “Kaily, Kiley, Katie” so it was like Kiwi, there easy, and it stuck. It’s always been there the rest of my life.

MM: Do you still like kiwis?

KM: Not my favorite, mango is my favorite, but it does not sound much like a name. I think Kiwi works better.

MM: You are from out of state, why did you come to UConn?

KM: I live right outside of San Francisco in a suburb. My grandpa is 89 years old and he went to UConn. It was cool for me to be able to come to the east coast and be able to see the school. He helped me move in and said, “oh it looks so different than when I was here”. It is completely different from home, I get to experience all four seasons, winter is a little long here though. It is a lot different than home so I said, “why not, it is four years and if I do not like it, I can always move back”.

MM: What would make this a successful season for you?

KM: Culture. When we came in as freshmen, it was hard for us. Now that we are upperclassmen, we are getting the hang of it and we are all working really hard toward the main goal. That huge in preseason right now, so we will see where it goes.

MM: Is there a specific goal or round in the playoffs that you want to get to?

KM: The conference tournament is always the biggest thing. It does not matter what you did before that, you still have a chance to go.

MM: What is your favorite/least favorite part of UConn?

KM: My favorite part is the athletic community, even though there are separate teams. I have so many close friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life, that I have never played a game with. The athletic community is super tight. My least favorite part is how rural we are. Freshman year, I called my dad saying, “I need my car, I need my car. I can’t even go to the grocery store; Price Chopper is so expensive.” It is like we are stuck on an island. We drove across country and brought my car.

MM: What is your favorite spot on campus?

KM: I discovered the Beanery sophomore year, and then I realized they take points. I was like “give me that buffalo chicken dip in the bread bowl and the artichoke dip”. I thought it was amazing. They have a good selection of food that is not available anywhere else on campus. They take points, so it is like free food.

MM: Do you have a favorite class that you have taken?

KM: I would say all my women’s gender courses, I love them. I enjoy all the people and all of the discussions. Like I said, I am from outside San Francisco which is completely opposite of Storrs, so for me to meet people that are diverse and in that class is huge.

MM: What kind of career are you looking into?

KM: My dream job is to own my own athletic training facility. A place where kids can come in and play any sport. We have family friends in California, and they turned this big old storage unit into this ginormous facility. They have a turf football field, batting cages and a workout area. Seeing it made me think, “this is my dream job”. I’m adopted, I would have never had the opportunity to play sports if it was not for that. To be able to give kids the opportunity to develop their talent, without having to pay for crazy travel ball, that is my dream job.

MM: What do you think is more difficult, hitting a pitch or traveling back and forth from Florida every weekend?

KM: I would say hitting. The mental aspect of it, not necessarily the physical. To be able to mentally stabilize yourself and be okay after games when you are going through up-and-downs is hard. Sometimes you feel alone and beat yourself up. We are all really hard on ourselves, so to be able to actually buck up, be okay with it and realize it is just a game takes a lot of growth.

MM: What is your main hobby outside of softball?

KM: If I did not play softball, I was going to go to the art academy in San Francisco. I like mixed-media, but I probably would have gone for interior design because that is where the money is. My aunt is an artist and she lives in Washington D.C., I flew across country to stay with her for a couple weeks and be in her studio. I wouldn’t let her see my artwork until it was done, she thinks I am such a perfectionist. Art is so soothing for me. With softball, we typically do not have a lot of time for that stuff, but in the summer, I am able to do a lot more of it.

MM: What kind of music do you listen to?

KM: I am the rap enthusiast of the team. I like old school, new stuff and any spectrum of it. I like old country, like George Strait, Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks. I grew up with that with my mom, rap is my own thing and my dad likes soft rock. They like Bob Dylan and The Eagles, artists like that.


Mike Mavredakis is a campus correspondent for the Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at michael.quinn-mavredakis@uconn.edu .