The name Freidenberg has seemingly become omnipresent on the UC San Diego sports scene since the start of fall classes. Julia Freidenberg earned All-CCAA honors as a middle blocker on UCSD's 25th-ranked Women's Volleyball squad and her twin sister, Lauren, is well on her way to matching that accomplishment as a frontcourt ace for Coach Charity Elliott's Women's Basketball team. After starting all 32 games and averaging 20.8 minutes as a sophomore, the 6-1 Lauren has upped her minutes to over 30 per contest while recording 12.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per contest as a junior, leading the club in the latter category. The lefty from Seattle posted a 17 pt., 14-rebound double double early in the season vs. Grand Canyon and exploded with 27 pts. and eight boards at Cal State Monterey Bay in December. Elliott has witnessed Freidenberg's growth in more than just numbers. "Lauren has a very high standard for herself," says Elliott. "She's stepped into a leadership role and is trying to do everything she can to help the team. She's opened up more and is allowing me to coach and challenge her. Clearly, Lauren is one of our key players." Prior to the renewal of the weekly conference schedule in January, Lauren Freidenberg, a human development major at Roosevelt College, spoke about her relationship with her sister, the progress of this year's youthful Triton cagers as well as her coach and teammates.
Q-You seem very close to your sister. How and why did the two of you end up playing different sports?
FREIDENBERG-My twin sister Julia is my best friend! When we were younger Julia and I tried to be different from each other in every aspect, so whether it was our favorite color or sports we always had different preferences. In sixth grade she chose volleyball and I chose basketball.
Q-Did you ever play volleyball and Julia basketball?
FREIDENBERG-In high school I played volleyball. It was a lot of fun because I was a setter and she was a middle blocker, so I got to set her in our plays. On defense we were called the Twin Towers when we went up to block together. I tried to get her to play basketball with me every year, and every year I was unsuccessful. However, she does rebound for me when I go to shoot around at the gym.
Q-Have the two of you ever gone head-to-head? If so, what was the outcome?
FREIDENBERG-We have never competed one-on-one in our specific sports of basketball or volleyball, but we definitely get competitive. When we work out together we're always eyeing the other to see who is lifting more or who had faster sprint times. Healthy sibling rivalry!
Q-How do you feel when you're watching your sister compete?
FREIDENBERG-I love watching women's volleyball compete. They're a very talented group of girls and they work extremely hard. I get really into their games and tend to get intensely focused on every point and rally! My emotions are paralleled to the girls on the court when it comes to being excited and constantly cheering-I feel like I'm on the court with them. I am so proud of Julia and I am very grateful that we attend the same university so I can support her.
Q-Away from the field of play, at what things do the two of you compete?
FREIDENBERG-Off the court Julia and I don't really compete, but we definitely push each other, such as helping each other study. Random times throughout the day we will run into things that make us a little competitive. For example, we share a car so sometimes we battle to see who gets to drive that day!
Q-What do you think are the biggest personality and skill differences between you and Julia?
FREIDENBERG-We are actually very similar when it comes to skills. We both enjoy writing, reading, and critical thinking. However, Julia excels in math as well, which is not my forte in the least. I prefer science while Julia refuses to take a biology class. Personality-wise we are both outgoing and enjoy challenges. We differ with Julia being more of a girly girl, while I am more of a tom boy at times.
Q-You've been part of two incredibly successful UCSD Basketball teams. This year's much less-experienced lineup has found winning more difficult. What's the difference in approach to the game when the team is winning vs. losing?
FREIDENBERG--We approach all our games with confidence. We look past our record of winning and losing and our mentality is to compete and play our game. Although we have had a slow start this season we know the skill and chemistry our team has built. Controlling the tempo of the game and giving 100% effort will lead us to success.
Q-What part of your game do you feel has improved the most since you came to UCSD?
FREIDENBERG--Coming to UCSD my freshman year I was very fortunate to have my two idols, Alexis Gaskin and Michelle Osier, as mentors. I learned a lot from them, whether it was court awareness, confidence, or post defense. I cannot express how elated I was when I found out Osier was named as an assistant coach this season! Coach Elliott, as well as the assistant coaches, have definitely improved my offensive abilities and confidence to finish strong around the basket when posting up.
Q-In one word, describe each of your four fellow starters.
FREIDENBERG-Chelsea Carlisle: leader; Emily Osga : disciplined; Megan Perry: selfless; Erin Grady: power.
Q-What do you consider Coach Charity Elliott's surpassing quality?
FREIDENBERG-Coach is passionate. She genuinely cares for every player's success. Our individual capability to improve and perform at our optimal ability is her primary goal. The intensity and energy Coach brings to our team is invaluable. She pushes us athletically and academically so that we can develop into well-rounded citizens of society.
Q-When things aren't going well, how does she (Charity) typically respond?
FREIDENBERG-Coach teaches us to respond to negative situations with resiliency. We are taught to overcome obstacles and bounce back from them. It is how you react to a situation that defines the outcome. Coach is a great motivational speaker and inspires us to fight back when faced with adversity.
Q-What's the best thing about growing up as a twin? What causes the most difficulty?
FREIDENBERG-The best thing about growing up as a twin is that I always have someone I can depend on. We have gone to all the same schools, share friends, and have created many memories together. I really do feel like twins can read each other's minds! Although it is difficult at times because we become too dependent on each other, I would not trade it for anything in the world.
Q-You're from Seattle. How would you describe your hometown?
FREIDENBERG-I 'm a little biased but my hometown in West Seattle is the most beautiful place on earth. The ocean and city lights are the images that instantly come to mind. I won't lie, it does rain a lot, but as a Seattleite I love the rain!
Q-How is Seattle most like San Diego? What is the most striking difference?
FREIDENBERG-Seattle and San Diego are similar with the downtown areas, so many fun activities to do in one region. The most striking difference is the nature. Seattle is very green due to the rain-there are evergreen trees and luscious grass everywhere-while San Diego has a drier climate. Washington gets all four seasons while San Diego stays nice and hot all year around. People in San Diego are also much tanner than people up in the Pacific Northwest!
Q-Besides basketball (and volleyball), what sport are you best at? What is your worst sport?
FREIDENBERG-I have been skiing since I was three years old, so I will always have a passion for the winter sport. My worst sport would definitely be swimming, how do they flip turn? How do they coordinate the strokes and breathing!? Amazing.
Q-What do you enjoy doing outside of sports?
FREIDENBERG-Outside of sports I enjoy reading, going to the gorgeous beaches we are so lucky to live next to, and every girl's passion-shopping.
Q-On your team, who is the smartest? Most fun-loving? Has the most fashion sense? Is the best cook?
FREIDENBERG-Our team is very talented at many different and random things. I'd like to say we are all intelligent since we attend UCSD! Magda (Usher) has great fashion sense, (Erin) Grady will win American Idol once she auditions, and Nicole (Anderson-Jew) makes delicious sushi to name a few.
Q-Can UCSD rebound to make this year's NCAA Tournament? What will it take?FREIDENBERG-I have no doubt we will make it to the NCAA tournament. We are on the brink of a breakthrough. Controlling the pace of the game by maintaining our aggression and confidence for all 40 minutes is the ingredient for success. Consistency is the key.