Q&A: Duke volleyball star Jordan Tucker discusses tenting, compares Olympic and revenue sports

<p>Jordan Tucker discussed what it's like to be an athlete and go through the tenting process leading up to the North Carolina game.&nbsp;</p>

Jordan Tucker discussed what it's like to be an athlete and go through the tenting process leading up to the North Carolina game. 

Before Duke men's basketball faces North Carolina Thursday at Cameron Indoor Stadium, The Chronicle's Jack Dolgin spoke with Duke volleyball's Jordan Tucker, who is tenting for the game. Tucker is white tenting and in group 81. The senior was named an All-American in her final year in Durham and also is one of only six Blue Devils to ever record 1,000 career kills, 400 blocks and hit better than .300 for a career. Their conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

The Chronicle: How did you decide to tent?

Jordan Tucker: I was like, ‘I will never tent, I don’t have time’…. But by senior spring, I’d never got to do it. We’re normally in season, and I’m normally training. So a good friend of mine needed one more person for their group and I was like, ‘You know what, I might as well do it. I might as well have fun with it. I can’t go to Duke and say I’ve never tented.’

It was actually so fun…. It wasn’t too cold. I kind of lucked out. My nights, they were warm.

TC: Do other athletes tend to do this too?

JT: Tenting is hard for us to do mainly because it’s from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Those are really the only hours in the day that we have to ourselves, so it’s really hard. Most coaches aren’t approving of it, they don’t approve of tenting for the most part. Especially for those in season, it’s definitely a no-go, and for other ones that are in offseason, but the offseason for people is pretty much the same as the season. You are lifting more and running more. So it’s only different because it’s hard in a different way. Besides that it’s pretty much all season.

TC: So you have to be a fall athlete and a senior to be able to do it?

JT: Yeah, and not be practicing.... Two of my teammates, Emily Sklar and Breanna Atkinson, tented last year during their senior spring, and they were like, ‘You guys have got to do it.’

TC: How do you handle being an ardent fan as an athlete in a non-revenue sport?

JT: I think there’s a lot of humility involved. For one thing, [revenue athletes] have respect for us, they know we’re working hard…. They’re going through the same things we’re going through, but they have a target on their back. They’re in front of a camera all the time. So in some ways, we have it a lot easier because [people] aren’t looking at what we’re doing, really. So we kind of can fly under the radar.

There’s always days where it’s frustrating, especially when you get big accolades and they aren’t presented like they would be for other people. But you know, that’s a part of the game.… So to see any sort of bitterness or anger toward people who are bringing in money, they’re doing what they’re asked to do and they’re working hard to be where they’re at, and good for them. So who are we to kind of sit back and be upset with them for taking the spotlight? You know, they’re earning it, and we support them as they continue to do that.

TC: Would you say that everyone you know shares that same sentiment?

JT: There’s an exception to every rule, but I think that is different school to school, and I think that’s one thing Kevin White, [vice president and director of athletics], and our athletic program really take seriously, that this is a team effort. This isn’t about one team being successful. This is about the athletic department being successful. So, that’s not really an attitude that’s tolerated.

TC: And I also know you’re a big fan of all Duke sports. How often do you go to sports games at Duke?

JT: I think I’ve been to almost every kind of game at this point. I checked fencing off the list last year. They’re hard to find. I haven’t been to rowing, but I think for the most part I’ve seen everybody—it’s just so fun. Everybody’s really supportive of us in the fall, so a team we like to support other people…. The athlete community is a pretty tight community.

TC: Now I remember learning last year that you’re very superstitious. And those were your words, not mine. So I’m wondering with the game tomorrow, do you have any superstitions and/or anything interesting that you plan to wear?

JT: To be honest, I’m really only superstitious with myself…. But as far as what I’m going to wear, I might throw on a jersey, face paint? Maybe some glitter? It’s yet to be determined.


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