Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor
USC athletes are more than just champions on the field, court, diamond, and pool, they're champions in the classroom as well. Each week, we will get to know one of these scholarly Trojans a little better in our student-athlete spotlight.
Name: Cassie Harberts
Sport: Women's Basketball
Major: Human Performance
Sarah Bergstrom (SB): As a senior looking back on your career, what does it mean for you to be a Trojan?
Cassie Harberts (CH): Family. Even though we've had a lot of coaching changes and inconsistency within the basketball program itself, I've always had my teammates and other people I've come to know through the Trojan network. So, for me, being a part of the Trojan family is being apart of a real family.
SB: What do you think is one of the biggest lessons you've learned in these almost four years? What will you walk away from college saying is the most important thing you've learned?
CH: As a student-athlete I've really learned better time management. I know in the real world, I'm going to have to use those same skills and so I feel like all the practical things I've learned in my time here are going to translate really well into a real job.
SB: Have you learned things on the court that have translated into the classroom and vice versa?
CH: I think being competitive and wanting to do my best every single time whether its a quiz, presentation, or test. I think determination in everything and wanting to be the best I can be.
SB: What would be the best advice you could give to some of your younger teammates to succeed in balancing basketball and class?
CH: Plan out your day and schedule in time that's just for homework. Because when you're at home there's always something you'd rather be doing than homework. You need to set aside time where you are completely focused on homework.
SB: I saw that you want to someday be a doctor in Africa, is that still something you are hoping to do down the line?
CH: I don't know so much about the doctor part. Pre-Med was a little difficult to handle with basketball so I changed to human performance (laughs). One of my biggest goals in life is to take a mission trip to Africa or any other country that needs help; to work in an orphanage or build houses or anything.
SB: Have you gotten a chance to do any volunteer work while at SC?
CH: We haven't done anything on a large magnitude but we've done little things here and there with Boys and Girls club and other places around our community.
SB: Have you had any experience traveling to Africa or outside of the country before?
CH: I just went to Russia this past summer for the World Games and that was probably my biggest experience traveling outside the country in terms of a culture change. It was a fantastic experience. It was literally a college Olympics. You travel with the men's team, you stay in something similar to an Olympic Village with all the other countries' teams staying around us, and you eat in a common area with everyone. It was such a cool experience to interact with all the athletes from other countries. We traded pins and now I have a lanyard with all of these other countries' pins. And for basketball, being able to play with the best players in America and some of the best in the world was just awesome. I played against other Olympic-bound international athletes and former Olympians. To play in someone else's country against that level of players was unbelievable.
SB: You were just named as a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award, what does being recognized for that award mean to you?
CH: It is so much bigger than just basketball. To be recognized as a well-rounded person is even greater than some of the other awards I've received or been nominated for. I just thought it was a great and I'm honored.
SB: I heard you're a big Kobe fan. Did you catch the season opener?
CH: I saw they beat the Clippers! I haven't really kept up on it, which is probably bad being a basketball player. I heard they look good. I grew up as a Lakers fan, purple and gold are my colors.
SB: How has it been playing for Coach Cynthia Cooper?
CH: It's been an awesome experience. Being a senior and getting only one year with this transition, I was a little nervous, but she's made the transition so easy. She bleeds cardinal and gold. She loves everything about this school and she gives 110 percent every day.
SB: What do you think of your team especially with so many people coming back?
CH: This is the first time we've really had a full, healthy roster. It's so exciting just to have enough bodies to run through practice and make it through the season. The freshmen are looking good. Courtney Jaco is a sharpshooter and Drew Edelman is a big force down-low which are two things we really missed last year.
SB: How ready are you for season?
CH: I am so ready. We had a scrimmage earlier this week and it felt so good to bang against someone else for a change, not a teammate. Our exhibition game is Friday and so for me, that's really where the season starts. I literally feel like I stepped onto the court as a freshman a year ago. Realizing this is my last year and this will never happen again I just want to take all that I can from this year.