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Getting to Know Your Golden Eagles

April 7, 2006

During the spring season, a player from each of the spring sports will sit down with a Southern Miss Athletics Media Relations intern to talk about their collegiate sports and life.

This entry features Southern Miss golfer Justin Elliott, who was interviewed by Brad Belk, and softball shortstop Jessica Huerta, who was interviewed by Brian Kowalski.

Senior Justin Elliott, Men's Golf

What or who inspires you to play golf?
"My dad. He got me started by teaching me and working with me all of the time. There is nothing better to play a good round when I know he's watching.

Do you play in a competitive manner, or do you play to relax and have fun?
"I play to have fun, but when I'm out there playing with others, I'm very competitive.

If you could play alongside any golfer in the masters, who would it be and why? "Definitely
Tiger, because he is the best player in the world. You need to play with the best to see what he does to someday be the best yourself."

Does anyone in your family play golf?
"My dad plays, and that's it. He used to play a lot, but now he mostly comes to watch me in my tournaments."

What has been your biggest accomplishment while playing for Southern Miss?
"Hopefully, it will be this year as I hope our team can make it to regionals. I don't know the last time the team made it, but we have been playing well this year, so maybe our team has a chance."

Are there any certain way you train to prepare for your golf tournaments, and do you have any superstitions?
"I do have superstitions when I'm on the golf course, as I carry thirty-five cents in my right pocket, but as far as preparing, I practice the same amount no matter what."

Why thirty-five cents?
"I spot my ball with a dime when I am putting for par or worse, and spot it with a quarter when I am putting for birdie or better."

Are there any other sports that you participate in?
"I played baseball when I was younger, but I gave it up."

How has this season gone for the Southern Miss men's golf team?
"We are probably playing the best since I came here in 2001, when I redshirted, but I think we are doing just as good as any team out there right now."

How do you feel about being a senior, and what do you plan on doing after you graduate?
"As a senior this year, I've had to step up and and lead people in the right direction. When I get done, I am going to go to Q school in the fall, which is the PGA Qualifying School. It's where you can get on the PGA tour, by going through three stages to do so."

Since you have the current longest tenure with the team, how much do you think this team, and yourself, has improved over the years?
"We've definitely improved a lot. Our team's other senior, Danny Dennis, and I have really improved our game. We've had some good freshmen come in this season that are playing well. Joel Myrick, who transferred from Ole Miss last year, has helped our team greatly as well. Overall, there are multiple people in our line up that continue to help us out as a team."

Senior Jessica Huerta, Shortstop, Softball

How does it feel being a senior leader on the Southern Miss Softball team?
"It feels good, but last year I was kind of in the same type of role because we only had one senior. Last year's junior class, and this year's senior class, has been together for so long, and our core of defense has been the same this year as it was last year. It really does feel good to lead a team with so much talent, so if we just stay consistent, then we are going to have a good season."

What do you see yourself doing next year with a degree in Broadcast Journalism?
"Actually, I am planning on going back to school to get my Masters degree in Public Relations. I really want to do something involved in sports whether it is doing public announcing or broadcasting. I have already interned at a couple of places such as WDM and ABC out of Houston so I figure that will give me a greater opportunity to get a job.

You grew up in Pearland, Texas, so what attracted you to want to come and play here at Southern Miss?
"I thought that this would be a good place for me, being a small community, and I felt that I could come here and make an instant impact on the team as a freshman, which I did. I also liked what the school offered me in general."

Do you think that it is harder to hit a fast pitch softball from 40 feet, or a baseball from 60 feet?
"In softball, you have less time to react as compared to fast pitch's hardest thrower, and baseball's hardest thrower, but I would guess that it depends on what you practice and what you get used to seeing every day, whether it be a softball or a baseball."

What softball player do you most admire or model your style of play after?
"I would say that I would most admire Dot Richardson (Two-time Olympic Gold winner for USA Softball, and former UCLA softball player), because she is an all around athlete."

How do you feel the season has gone so far?
"I am really not happy with the win to loss ratio, but I am happy with where we are right now, and where we are headed. We can do great things if we stay consistent, and I am happy with how things are going right now."

You were named to the 2006 C-USA Player to Watch List. Do you consider that an honor?
"Yes, I do consider it an honor, but I still have to step up and do my job. The season started off pretty rough for me, and I'm not having the start that I would have liked to have had coming off of last year. However, I am starting to come along, and hopefully I can keep on improving."

What went through your head last year right before and after you collided with Allison Bullard against Mississippi State?
"Actually, I didn't hear anyone calling for the ball, so I was doing what my job called for in going after the job. My motto is that I am going to go back hard until someone calls it, and if no one calls it, then I am laying out. So when we collided, everything just went black and I didn't remember everything until later. It really was kind of scary."

Tell us something funny about yourself that no one else knows?
"I guess I would say that I eat a whole lot. I probably eat more than my boyfriend does, so I guess that would be kind of funny."

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