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Getting to Know: Joya Gates

Name: Joya Gates
What’s an important lesson that you have learned from Athletics?: The most important lesson I’ve learned through athletics is how to be a leader who listens. As important as it is to lead your teammates, I think it’s equally as important to listen to be able to take constructive criticism and advice from the people you’re playing with.
What are your Pre Game rituals?: My pregame rituals are pretty minimal, I always warm up with the same person before a game, but that’s about it.
Who is a player you respect: A player I look up to is Morgan Hentz, previously the Stanford libero. I look up to her because I play a similar position to her, she played for the best school in the country for volleyball and even ended up winning the NCAA Championship three times. She is a player that I strive to be more like because of her successes.
What do you love about representing Penn?: What I love about representing Penn High School is that when I am on the court I am playing for more than just myself, I’m also playing for all of my teammates. It makes it so much more fun to have a group of friends who you can play with and encourage.
What makes a great team leader?: Traits in a team leader that I admire are selflessness and good work ethic. I think that someone tends to naturally lead a group when they hold themselves to a high standard and don’t stop working until they meet that standard. Also, when you are able to tell that a player is playing for more than just themselves, and wants what is best for the team as a whole, it is easy to be lead by them on and off the court.
What advice would you give to Freshmen about Penn Athletics?: A piece of advice I would give to freshmen about Penn Athletics is to not give up, and show up every day, There are going to be days when you don’t want to be at practice, give 100 percent, or push yourself, but you just have to remember that what you put into your playing now will pay off later, and coaches want to see you working even when you don’t want to.
What is your favorite sports movie?: My favorite sports movie is “Miracle Season.”
What’s your favorite pig-out food?: My favorite pig-out food is any and all fruit, but especially watermelon.
What do you love about your sport?: What I love about volleyball is the friendships that are made on the teams I play on. I have made some of my best friends through volleyball and to me, nothing is more fun than playing, and especially winning, with your best friends.
If you could have lunch with any living person, who would it be, and what would you talk about?: If I could have lunch with anyone, it would probably be Morgan Hentz because of how much I look up to her. I would love to talk to her about her struggles with her personal relationship with the sport, and what gave her the motivation to keep working.

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