Thursday, September 24, 2009

Q&A with Taber Spani by Dan Fleser via

While growing up, Taber Spani didn't go to school. Instead, the classroom came to her.
The Tennessee women's basketball freshman and her four sisters were home-schooled. In their case, it meant scattering to five different parts of their Lee's Summit, Mo., home and watching DVDs provided by Pensacola, (Fla.) Christian Academy.
"They'd set up a camera in the back of the classroom,'' the 6-foot-1 guard said. "So you'd kind of watch your classes and then you'd have all of your homework and all of your tests and my mom would oversee it."
Spani still was able to play basketball. Since mom didn't play teacher's pet, there was no cutting corners on her education either.
"For me, it was built-in,'' she said. "But I think it would take a lot of discipline, just because when you're by yourself, it's always natural to not want to do something. I loved it."
Along with diligence, Spani has a built-in devotion to family and football, along with a desire for her faith to resonate in her life.
Q: Are you a big football fan?
A: Saturdays, if I'm not doing a workout, which I'll probably come in and shoot, but after that it's reserved for football.
Q: What position would you have played?
A: I'd either have been a linebacker - because that's what my dad was and I love to hit, I love that part - or I'd be a quarterback."
Q: Your dad (Gary) was a star player at Kansas State and with the Kansas City Chiefs. Did you hear a lot of stories growing up?
A: When I was born my dad had already been retired a couple of years. It's mostly from people ... old buddies. They'll just start talking about it. My dad was ferocious. He was a worker. He was the ultimate worker. He'd run 50 40s every Wednesday in college. He didn't start, I don't think, until maybe midway through his freshman year. He didn't get a chance. And then somebody got hurt and he went in and he had 20-some tackles his first game in college. He kind of took off from there."
Q: You told me before of your admiration for Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. What is it about him?
A: What I love about him is he was home schooled. His beliefs are very similar. Most importantly, it's just the way he's an all-out leader. I love his passion for the game, the way he absolutely leads his team. He's going to do whatever he can. Maybe people will say he's not the most skilled athletically, but he gets the job done and he's going to will his team to victory. I kind of want to be the Tim Tebow of women's basketball - use my platform to influence people."
Q: What do you think when you hear about all of the mission work he does?
A: I love it. Obviously his parents, their missionary work is a tremendous outreach. I don't know what I want to do here, but I want to get involved somehow. I just feel like as athletes, especially at top programs like Tennessee, you only have four years. We have a platform, We have a chance to influence people. If you don't take advantage of that, I think that's sad, and I think that's really selfish. I'm going to do whatever I can. Obviously it comes hand-in-hand with performance, so I'm going to work my tail off on the court."
Q: How do you want your life to reflect your faith?
A: I want people to see Jesus through me. I want it to be clear who I am. I know that some people aren't going to agree with that but that doesn't really faze me. I want to be known as someone who's the ultimate competitor but loves you to death."
Dan Fleser covers the Lady Vols. He can be reached at

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