• Homer’s Layland heads to national tourney with Puget Sound Loggers
By Sean Pearson
Homer Tribune: So, how does it feel to get invited to the Big Dance?
Layland: It feels pretty stupendous. Here I am, privileged to be on a team and part of an amazing program that has the opportunity to extend their season into March. Of more than 430 Division III teams in the nation, I am so pumped that ours is only one of 64 remaining and going on to the national tournament.
HT: What got you here, as a team?
Layland: I give credit to my coaches for turning a six-rookie squad into a (13th) nationally ranked team. And to all my teammates who work their butts off every single day to accomplish the goal that we set at the beginning of the season: Get back to nationals. We are pumped. We are excited. We are ready to prove what we’re made of.
HT: How has the college basketball experience differed from high school?
Layland: College basketball is much more intense. The games are faster and more physical, and it is louder, more serious and more focused than anything else I’ve ever done. Comparing it to high school, it’s safe to say that everyone is simply bigger. Taller, stronger, bigger.
HT: Was it hard to adapt to a new coaching style?
Layland: It was more adapting to new coaching expectations. It was different, but not difficult. I have a tremendous amount of respect for my coaches and the way they run the women’s basketball program here. I love how seriously it is taken and the fact that my coach has such high expectations for each player only makes us better.
HT: What’s it like balancing sports and a full college schedule?
Layland: Keeping up with classes and homework, surprisingly, isn’t impossible. There are, of course, the super stressful days and weeks when it seems as if getting all my school work done, and going to basketball practice, and going to my work study job are impossible — but it works out. One word that I can best use to describe my college experience thus far is “busy.”
HT: What does your normal schedule look like?
Layland: We usually practice six days a week. Having a day off depends on our game schedule. If there are a lot of games in two weeks, we might not get a break until they’re all over because we simply can’t afford to have an off-day. If we don’t have practice, we usually have a cardio workout and lift weights.
HT: You’ve had ankle problems in the past. How’s the ankle holding up?
Layland: It’s doing well. It’s been more sore and achy than it was my last couple years of high school, but that is definitely due to more use and practices that are harder and faster. I try to get treatment and do rehab a couple times a week to strengthen it.
HT: Was it difficult fitting into a place where you really don’t know anyone?
Layland: Not so much. I have met some great people and have some of the most amazing teammates. They would do anything for each other. It’s so cool and helpful that we’ve become friends in addition to just being teammates.
HT: So, no homesickness at all?
Layland: I have caught myself feeling homesick from time to time, but it’s not too bad when I have so much going on. Staying busy doesn’t allow for much time to think about what I’m missing. I do miss some of the simple things though, like the food at Two Sister’s Bakery and driving myself places. And of course, my family — and my larger-than-dorm-room-sized bed.
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