A debriefing with a dynamic duo of women’s basketball

Ally Racey

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Oakland women’s basketball will be without Elena Popkey and Olivia Nash next year. These seniors have not only grown close as teammates over the last four years, but they grew to be each other’s best friend.

The duo took some time via email to discuss their journey at Oakland, and what led them to their close bond.

 

Were you roommates since day one?

Popkey: We’ve roomed together freshman year and senior year.

 

Was it a random pairing or did you get to choose?

Popkey: Freshman year the coaches roomed all of the freshman together. Senior year we chose to room together.

 

Some people say you become friends with the people who are most like you. What similarities do you two have?

Popkey: We both just love to have a good time and make other people smile.

 

Would you consider yourselves best friends?

Popkey: Absolutely.

Nash: Definitely.

 

Whenever you had a break from basketball did  you stick together or hang out with other friends?

Nash: We pretty much stick together on and off the court. 

 

What’s it like living together and spending every minute at practice together?

Nash: Living with her is awesome. Who wouldn’t want to live with their best friend? But as far as practices go, I think that’s where we built our chemistry on the court. That’s why we play so well together.

Popkey: It’s a blast. We are usually laughing whenever we’re together including when we are on the court.

 

Was it ever too much togetherness?

Popkey: I can’t really remember a time when it’s been too much. We love being together, but we also know when enough is enough.

 

You both played huge roles on the team. Did it take any of the pressure off knowing your teammates didn’t just look up to one of you?

Popkey: On or off the court we just knew we had each other’s backs no matter what.

Nash: If anything, she kept me sane. I always know she’ll have my back. If I’m having a bad game she’s the one to pick me up and snap me back to my normal self and vice versa. 

 

How did you guys take the games seriously having your best friend on the court?

Popkey: We are both passionate and competitive. We want the team to succeed, so we’re able to put things aside and focus on the game.

Nash: Game day is just second nature. We know each other’s routines so we easily can focus on the task at hand rather than distracting each other. 

 

After four years of friendship you must have inside jokes between the two of you?

Nash: Yeah we have a few inside jokes.

 

Is there one you wouldn’t mind sharing?

Popkey: (smiling) They’re inside jokes for a reason.

 

Over the past four years would you say your friendship on and off the court has ultimately helped you or hindered you on game day?

Popkey: Definitely helped. She’s challenged me to become a better player and leader and she’s helped pick me up during some of my lowest times.

Nash: This friendship has definitely helped me on game days. If anything, it’s made me have more fun and relax more. 

 

Have you noticed a pattern or something specific the other does during every game? What is it, and does it help on the court?

Nash: Elena prays every game day. And it definitely helps both on and off the court. 

It hasn’t been very long, but what have you been doing with your free time since the season ended?

Popkey: I’m still training and playing ball. I’ve also filled my days with community service and homework.

Nash: My free time since the season ended has been mostly spent catching up on sleep and still keeping in shape and being in the gym. 

 

What are your plans after graduation?

Popkey: My goal is to play basketball professionally overseas.

Nash: I hope to pursue a career overseas continuing my basketball career. 

 

When are you expected to graduate?

Popkey: I’ve graduated with my bachelors in August, but I’m walking this spring because I wanted to walk with my friends, including Liv.

 

Any job possibilities?

Popkey:  Coaching, playing, counseling, ministry.

 

Will you remain close friends?

Nash: Oh yeah, we’ll remain close friends. 

Popkey: Without a doubt.

 

What do you think it will be like not seeing each other every day after four years?

Popkey: It might be a little odd, but I know we will stay in contact and I know she will be successful.

Nash: It’ll be different not seeing each other every day after the last four years, but I know we’ll keep in touch.

 

What are you going to miss most when you won’t be able to see each other every day?

Nash: I’ll miss her positive and encouraging words and her overall energy. She’s always making everyone smile. And she’s funny. 

Popkey: She always made me laugh when I needed it.

 

Coach Tungate said you both left a legacy at Oakland. What is it like to hear that?

Nash: It’s very humbling to hear Coach say that. I think having the ability to come into a program and make an impact is huge. I’m just glad I was given the opportunity. 

 

Where do you see the Oakland women’s basketball program heading in the years to come?

Nash: The program is only going up from here. There are some great players here that are only getting better, and with their hard work, discipline and leadership, there are definitely championships to come. 

Popkey: It’s headed in the right direction. There are some great girls on the team and when they come together they will be a force to be reckoned with.