Interview: Naz Aydemir

Naz Aydemir of Turkey burst onto the international volleyball scene during the Junior (U20) World Championships in the summer of 2005 when she started as setter for her country in their last four matches. At the age of fourteen, she was the youngest starter at the tournament. She has since then been promoted to the senior team of Eczacibasi ISTANBUL, the top volleyball club in Turkey. In the last two months, she has found herself shouldering the full time setting duties for her team which competes in the Indesit European Champions League in addition to Turkish Division I.
Despite being thrown in the spotlight just recently, Naz Aydemir is no stranger to the international game. Shes been a member of Turkish Youth and Junior teams since 2003 and was elected as the MVP and the best setter during the group qualification phase of European Youth Championships in 2004.
This interview is copyright of Volleypics.com (Thanks to our Turkish friends for the interview)

 

Volleypics Naz  Can you tell us a little about yourself? Describe yourself with your own words.
Naz: If I talk about the Naz on court, shes someone who tries her best to win until the last second, is a fighter, believes that shes the mastermind of the team, is very ambitious and continuously follows the opponents coach.

Naz off the court is an uninhibited madcap and fun. Sometimes shes a kid and sometimes shes very mature, she likes to be friends (hang out) with those who are older, communicates well and loves learning new things. She writes good essays and poems, and is stubborn
V-pics How did you get interested in playing volleyball in the first place?
Naz Both my mother and father are former national team volleyball players but I did not start sports with volleyball. I started with athletics and high jump. I even have an unconfirmed Turkish Record in high jump. I then got interested in basketball. The more those around me said come play volleyball, the more I warmed up to playing basketball (I think my stubbornness was showing itself there) Later on, the then-Eczacibasi Head Coach Gokhan Edman said to my mom bring her to watch a practice and so that we can get a look at her. After watching the practice the next day, I decided to be a volleyball player and thats how it started.
V-Pics Did you start out as a setter or did you switch from another position?
Naz I was a spiker the first year I started volleyball, however, I did not play much since I was on the bench. Later when I started getting taller rapidly, they played me as setter for one year so as not to make me jump too much. When they saw that I took a shine to it and was keeping up, they let me keep at it. Until this point, I played every position but the libero. I even played as a middle blocker. Right now I still play as an opposite in youth team.
V-Pics People are obviously amazed when they hear about a 15-year old girl becoming the starting setter for a very big club team and, surprisingly, doing very well. How do you feel about this reaction from other people?
Naz Others did not expect this performance from me. I know that. At first they would not trust me. However, as time went on and I showed what I can do, they started believing in me. However, to tell the truth, I am not really interested in what other people think. My ears are closed.
V-Pics How do you handle the situation where you are the Setter and you are 5-6 or more years younger than any of your teammates (with few exceptions)? i.e. You have to decide and stay behind your decisions while dealing with much older people?….I can imagine that at your age it’s not easy in general, let alone on a volleyball court.
Naz I did not have any problems with respect to my age yet because the players I play with are aware of the functions of a setter. Thus I have not been having any problems. My teammates know that the setter is the mastermind of the team and because of this they dont interfere with me, just like I dont interfere with them.
V-Pics How do you feel about playing at this level in Champions League and the Turkish D1 at such a young age? Whats your biggest challenge?
Naz This is a big honor for me because, I think, I am the youngest setter to play in the Champions League. It was a great responsibility for me to follow Bahar (Mert Urcu) since everyone expected me to fill the void left by a good setter like her. The biggest challenge was to sell myself on those who did not think I would be able to cope with this responsibility.
V-Pics Do you get more pressure when you play, now that there’s much media attention about you starting for Eczacibasi Istanbul?
Naz I dont feel any pressure because as I said before my ears are closed to pressure, reactions, criticism and praise. I am walking on the path that Ive set for myself.
V-Pics How does it feel to play alongside some of the best players in the world like Nancy Metcalf and Stacey Gordon as well as Turkish National Team players like Esra Gumus and Gulden Kayalar? Along the same lines, how does it feel to be across the court from some of the sports greats like Maggie Glinka and Yumilka Ruiz?
Naz Playing with them and feeling their support is very enjoyable and they have a big contribution in my improvement as a player. It is also a lot of fun to play against the greats and keep up with them. When you think about it, I am 15 years old. They are 28, 29. Theres a huge gap of experience. However, playing against them not only improves my game but also enables me to enjoy it even more while playing.
V-Pics In your opinion, is being practically the only setter on your team at this point an advantage (meaning you do not have to be afraid to be subbed out) or a disadvantage (nobody to help you when you have an off day) for you?
Naz Even though it is very tiring, I like being the only one because this way we can do our set play organizations more comfortably. However, I cant deny that it is very tiring.
V-Pics Which tournament/ competition has been most special for you so far? Can you tell us about the experience?
Naz It was my first year as a setter on the pre-youth team at Turkish National Championships. We were playing in the final in Bolu. We had come there winning 3-0 against everyone else. During warm-ups of the last match, I broke my finger and continued playing. My coaches thought that I was crying because of stress, this being my first ever final. While they were trying to calm me down, they never even considered a broken finger. I played with that finger and we won the match and the championship. It was GREAT.
V-Pics Which player do you take as an example for yourself?
Naz I am not taking a single one player as an example for myself. Thats because if you do that, you end up being like her, I want to be better than the player that I would take as an example. Because of this, I do not have a chosen one.
V-Pics What players have you seen that you said “I think these are great players”?
Naz Ruiz: Other than her blocking, shes a complete player, very smart.
Glinka: A superb talent formed by the combination of physical superiority and intelligence.
Ravva: She can not be stopped.
Grün: In addition to her game, her desire and ambition.
These are all hitters because as I have said before, I dont take any setters as an example.
V-Pics If you are still in school, what’s your favorite subject?
Naz Yes I am in school still but I can attend classes very occasionally. Despite this, math and history are my favorite subjects. Literature as well.
V-Pics Talking about school, what are your plans for your future education? Will you be able to balance this with your volleyball career?
Naz I have to continue my sport along with education. This is something that my family and I have wanted from the time I was very young. Because you dont know what will happen tomorrow. Your volleyball career could be over in a blink with a serious injury and all you can do outside volleyball then would be a big zero. Because of this, I would like to have a guarantee in my pocket. I wish I had had a chance to play until the end of my life but I know theres not chance of that and volleyball will be over one day. I would like to study visual communications in college. It has everything that I am interested in: Photography, continuity writing, creative directorship, journalism…
V-pics What are the things you do on your free time?
Naz Usually I spend my off days sleeping in. Then my mom and I declare the day pleasure day. We go out to unwind, go shopping…
V-Pics Do you have a pet?  What kind of pet do you have?
Naz I have an American Cocker named Tarcin. (means cinnamon in Turkish)
V-Pics Thank you Naz, for answering our questions. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Naz I think this covers it all. Keep watching Turkish National Teams and Eczacibasi!! Thank you for your interest.