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The Champion Within: Pepperdine's Julile Rubenstein, A Leader of Leaders

Oct. 8, 2008

Before even playing for Pepperdine, Julie Rubenstein has been used to rooting for the Waves from the day she was born as both her parents attended Pepperdine and her grandfather was actually the basketball coach from 1968-79.

This week, she sat down with us to talk about growing up a Waves fan, being a leader on the SAAC committee, and playing in the WCC.

Q: With both of your parents graduating from Pepperdine and your grandfather (Gary Colson) a member of the Pepperdine Hall of Fame, did you feel pressure to follow in their footsteps and attend Pepperdine?

JR: I never felt pressure from any of them. My parents made sure that wherever I chose to go, it was my decision. They were very supportive during the recruiting process. Basically growing up at Pepperdine gave me a good sense of what it would be like to be a Wave, and I loved that feeling.

Q: What is your earliest memory of playing volleyball and how did you get involved in the sport?

JR: My sister started playing when she was about 12, so I would watch some of her matches and pepper with whomever. It wasn't until she started playing club a couple years later that my interest really grew. I played club for the first time at age 13, and fell in love with the sport.

Q: How did you first get involved with the Pepperdine Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and what does it mean to you to be the first representative from Pepperdine to earn a spot on the NCAA's national SAAC?

JR: Roxanne Levenson, our SWA, and I have a really great relationship, and she felt that I would be a good addition to Pepperdine SAAC. I also heard about it from a couple of teammates (one current teammate, Cassi Chamberlain). Shortly after joining at the campus level, Roxanne nominated me to be a national SAAC representative, and I was selected. I didn't realize at the time how great of an honor it is. It truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I would not have known about if it weren't for Roxanne.

Q: Being a SAAC representative for Pepperdine, what are some of the national issues regarding college athletics you have come across during the national conferences you have attended?

JR: Anything and everything, from text messaging to baseball legislation. We discuss a lot of issues and legislation, and hear from all kinds of speakers. It is especially exciting when volleyball legislation is discussed. There are some upcoming proposals as well as sand volleyball being a new emerging sport for women.

Q: You haven't missed a single game in your career. What are some things you have done to stay healthy for so long?

JR: As a high school student, I had a wonderful trainer in An Truong and chiropractor Chris Alvarez, through WellnessOne. I worked with them all through high school, so throughout my career I was able to maintain strength and health. This carried onto Pepperdine. Our trainer, John Shearer, alongside with our weight trainers, from SportsWest, do a fabulous job of keeping us in the best possible shape.


Q: Along with the awards you have received for your play on the court, you have also been recognized for your efforts in the classroom. What are some of the difficulties you face trying to maintain high standards on and off the court?

JR: The lack of time can be tricky. Especially during season when we are on the road, it can be tough to complete assignments, makeup assignments, and stay on top of my studies. I definitely have to manage my time a lot more during the fall semester.

Q: You guys are off to a great start, matching the school's best start in program history. What are some personal and team goals for the season?

JR: Having such a great start is fueling our hunger to also have a great finish. Our goal is to bring the WCC title to Pepperdine. With that, we would love a high ranking going into the NCAA tournament, to give ourselves great setup to win many matches. We are going to need to continue to work hard, improving in all aspects of our games to do this, and I believe we can.

Q: Do you have any specific plans after graduation, career-wise or athletically?

JR: I am hoping to continue playing volleyball until either I burn out or my body doesn't allow me to. I think it would be the greatest experience to play in Europe. When volleyball is no longer apart of my everyday life, I may go back to school. But, I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

Q: Is there a specific class, outside of your major, you have taken at Pepperdine that you enjoyed?

JR: I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my Psychology classes. I find the subject very intriguing and interesting to learn. I also took a world religions class that taught me so much not only about the world and different religions, but also about myself.

Q: As a four-year starter, how has your role on the team evolved over the years?

JR: My role as a leader has definitely evolved over the years. Coming in as a starting freshman sent my head spinning a bit, as to be expected. As a senior now, I am expected to lead my team vocally, emotionally, and by example; I cannot accept bad matches from my team or myself.

Q: When not studying or practicing, where can people find you on or around campus?

JR: I would probably be eating in the cafeteria or in the training room. I am not on campus that much, as I live off-campus. So you would also find me with my roommates or friends elsewhere.

Q: If you were not playing volleyball, what other sport would you be playing?

JR: Even though I am absolutely terrible at it and never play, I would play tennis. It's great to watch, and the women that play are so athletic yet graceful.

Q: The WCC has really established itself as one of the premier volleyball conferences in the nation. Can you talk about the competitive nature of playing in one of the elite conferences in the country?

JR: This truly is a tough conference. Every team has to be taken seriously. I think our conference is under-rated. Every team is highly competitive. Fans can always expect to watch a great volleyball match. There always seem to be big upsets and great victories. These teams definitely keep me on my toes.

Q: What do you know now that you didn't know when you were a freshman?

JR: To not take a day, class, workout, point, match, etc. for granted. I am so blessed to be here at Pepperdine, to play on the team I do, to have the friends and professors I do. I will never get another opportunity like this. I knew this as a freshman, but now that this is my last year, it has become a reality and wisdom to live by.