After picking up two crucial road wins this past weekend, including an upset over No. 25 ranked Duke, Pitt volleyball (21-4, 9-3 ACC) returns home this weekend to face conference foes Miami (17-7, 10-3 ACC) and Virginia Tech (11-14, 4-8 ACC). Click here to read more.
One-On-One with Red-Shirt Senior Tyler Wilps
Q: How have you grown as a wrestler from freshman year until now at the University Pittsburgh?
Wilps: "When I came to Pitt as a freshman, I always had that basic hard work mentality. My way of thinking was simple, grind it out and get better every day. But starting last year, I finally found a good balance between being relaxed and working hard."
"The mentality you need to have if you want to excel in almost anything is finding that unique balance. In my opinion, you can only improve when you are feeling more relaxed--instead of being too hard on yourself, or focusing on the wrong things. It's important to not forget about the big picture and simply focus on getting better."
"Between last year and this year, I have had a more open mind at getting better in wrestling. Now, I try to come in and have more fun with practices. It now creates an environment where I can learn and get better at wrestling."
Q: Stepping away from the wrestling mat, how have you grown as a student-athlete over the past four years?
Wilps: "I have been pretty consistent with my school work throughout college. However, it was still a transition from high school to college. As a freshman, I told myself it was time to really crack down and I had to focus on my work."
"I have definitely matured in the classroom with my test taking abilities and in critical thinking. Now, I'm able to sift through the information a lot quicker, which I owe to prepping for the MCAT."
Q: How has Pitt's Academic Support helped you over the years? Specifically, how did they assist in preparing you for something as big as the MCAT?
Wilps: "As far as the intangibles, there is amazing support here at Pitt. They can't force you to study because that's something you have to do on your own, but the help is there if you want it. The mentality of Pitt's Academic Support--if you want to do well then they will be right there and take you as far as you need to go."
"It's not as if, they only focus on getting their athletes through college so they can participate in your sports. They take it a step further, if they notice if a person is really determined to do something then they want to help you achieve the goal."
Q: Do you reflect on your earlier years as an athlete? Right now, if you stepped back to look at the process of how you became the wrestler you are today, what would you have to say about that journey?
Wilps: "It was definitely a slow process, sometimes you improve, plateau or even decline. There's definitely not a clear path in my improvement."
"In terms of wrestling, I'm sure there are moments I would look back on and laugh at, but in terms of my approach I would never say my head was in the wrong place or that I would have done things differently.
"I have a little brother on the team, Noah Wilps, and he is obviously different than me, but I can also see the similarities and where he's improving in wrestling. It's interesting to see how he deals with the stresses of school and being a student-athlete. It's not far off from how I dealt with it as a freshman."
"Obviously, if I wrestled my freshman year self today, I would beat myself pretty bad."
PITTSBURGH - The University of Pittsburgh Athletic Department has once again teamed up with 100.7 Star and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank for its 'Pack the Pete' Food Drive, which will run the entire month of November.
CBS Radio's 100.7 Star will be broadcasting live from six (6) events at the Petersen Events Center and Fitzgerald Field House during November to help take donations of nonperishable food items which kicked off this past Sunday, November 2 at the Panthers Volleyball match against Syracuse.
Those who make a donation at any volleyball or women's basketball game will receive complimentary admission to that day's game along with being entered to win a pair of tickets to 100.7 Star's O Starry Night concert at the Petersen Events Center on December 9. The O Starry Night lineup includes performances from Train, Daughtry, O.A.R., Christina Perri and Matt Nathanson.
Fans making a donation at the wrestling match or men's basketball game will be entered to win a pair of tickets to 100.7 Star's O Starry Night concert. Winners will be announced during each of the seven games.
Fans who are unable to attend any of the events will be able to drop off nonperishable items in the Petersen Events Center lobby, beginning on November 2.
Last year's 'Pack the Pete' promotion raised over 13,000 pounds of non-perishable items for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, which serves an 11-county region in Western Pennsylvania. Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank distributes almost 1.7 million pounds of food every month to those in need.
Pitt Women's Basketball will host its annual Hometown vs. Hunger game on Jan. 4, entertaining conference rival Louisville. The Panthers have teamed with Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and UPMC for the past 8 straight years in an effort to battle hunger in Western PA.
Three highly regarded prospects have signed scholarship papers and will enroll at the University of Pittsburgh in January.
Quarterback Alex Hornibrook and defensive backs Jordan Whitehead and Malik Henderson will be enrolled at Pitt beginning January 5 and participate in the Panthers' offseason program, including spring drills.
Whitehead, a native of Center, Pa., is a versatile standout at Central Valley High. One of the most coveted prospects in the state, he is expected to play corner at Pitt but also contribute on offense and special teams. Rated one of Pennsylvania's top six overall prospects, Whitehead was selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. He has led Central Valley to a 10-0 record and the quarterfinals of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
Hornibrook, a native of Malvern, Pa., is the all-time passing yardage leader at Malvern Prep. He also holds school single-season records for passing yards and passing touchdowns. Rated one of Pennsylvania's top 25 prospects, he completed 65% of his passes as a senior. Standing 6-4 and 210 pounds, Hornibrook led his team to the Inter-Academic League championship. He is a National Honor Society member and boasts a 4.0 grade-point average.
Henderson, a 6-foot, 175-pound cornerback prospect, hails from Hallandale Beach, Fla. He has not given up a touchdown the entire season in helping Hallandale to a 9-1 record and the Florida 6A Playoffs. Henderson is considered one of the top players in talent-rich Broward County. He is also considered a Top 100 player in Florida by 247Sports.
Q: How have you grown as a volleyball player here at the University of Pittsburgh?
Wynn: "Looking back over the past four years, I feel like a completely different person and volleyball player. When I came in, we did well my freshman year, but not nearly as well as we are playing right now. We are overall a better team. I finally feel like I'm a part of a program. Coach Fisher has taken over this team and he has changed the whole morale. Coach Fisher makes it more of an experience instead of four years and done. "
Wynn: "Athletically, I've become better especially because of Coach Fisher. He has spent a lot of time working with myself and every individual on our team. As a freshman, I came in as a hitter, but now I'm more of a dynamic player. I'm even a better passer, and that's because Coach has taken the time to go over the fundamentals."
Q: Do you ever look back on your freshman year, and are you surprised by how much you've improved as a player?
Wynn: "Freshman year, I feel like I played with reckless abandon especially with feeling nervous during a game. I remember we played against Louisville my freshman year - I was praying that they wouldn't serve me, or set to me. In the end, it was really cool because we upset Louisville, but I distinctly remember how nervous I was during that match. It's funny to look back, because I've adapted into my role. I now have the most sets on the team this season. I've totally embraced that role, and it makes me laugh to look back because that once terrified me."
Q: What other changes have you noticed about yourself as a volleyball player?
Wynn: "A newfound confidence, which has developed from my close relationships with the team and my coaches. Freshman year, I was kind of in my own world, but now I truly feel a part of this program. There is so much mutual respect among my teammates and with our coaches. It gives me so much more confidence, because I know exactly what is expected from me."
Wynn: "We are an extremely close group. We choose to be best friends with one another. It's not, 'oh, this is just the hand we've been dealt'. We consciously make each other an important part of our lives. I fully plan on maintaining these relationships and staying in touch with my teammates once I am no longer at Pitt. Those close relationships do transfer onto the court. Recently, when we played against Syracuse, one of my teammates was hit directly in the face. Instead of consoling her, I knew she would want me to get her fired up and joke around. In sticky situations you know how to treat your teammates and how to react in any given situation."
Q: Looking beyond the court and into the classroom, how has Pitt helped you improve and adjust to the life of a student-athlete?
Wynn: "In high school, I thought of myself as an athlete only. As soon as I came to Pitt, they changed my way of thinking and emphasized the fact that you are a student-athlete. The expectations are set and maintaining your grades is a requirement. Even when Coach Fisher came here, he made it clear what his expectations were on the court and in the classroom. It's funny how it works, because when you're winning you become even more motivated. It makes you want to do even better in school and participate in more community service projects. Its as if you feel a part of something bigger than yourself and the goal is to make the experience special by doing all the other little things."