This season, as we take a Total Access look at Tennessee, we'll also have quick visits with the Lady Vols. Senior Taber Spani, a 6-foot-1 guard/forward averaging 9.7 points and 4.2 rebounds, stands up to our Tenn Questions survey:
1. A lot of people in your immediate and extended family have competed in sports at a high level. How have those sports genes helped you?
Taber Spani: It has helped tremendously, not only for just the straight athletic ability, but my dad and mom taught me the value of hard work and understanding what that means. I started lifting [weights] with my sister in eighth grade. I was really young when I started serious lifting and daily workouts.
When it came to injury, if my parents thought you were hurt, they'd say, "Hey, walk out in the lake and ice it." It was a crazy version of an ice tub out in the lake. There were so many freezing nights and we'd all walk out and get numb up to our back. That sorted out how bad you were hurt. If you were a little bit hurt, you might as well not say you were injured. If you were really hurt, you would get in that freezing lake [in the Kansas City area]. Sometimes we had four or five people out there.
2. What were the positives of being home-schooled? Were there any negatives?
Spani: The biggest bonus was just the fact that my parents got to choose a Christian curriculum and I was brought up in that. And just being with my sisters. I have four others, and we are 10 years apart. If we were in the school system, I wouldn't have had that relationship with them or spent as much time with them growing up. I guess any negatives were just the fact that I didn't get to play middle school or elementary school basketball. In high school, we did get to play, but we didn't get to go to the state tournament. The positives far outweigh any negatives.
4. When you were younger, what was your parents' favorite saying?
Spani: Two things stand out. They coached us a lot, and on the basketball court, it was always "attitude and effort are non-negotiable." I don't care what happens, I have to be positive and confident. Off the court, it was "the power of choice." Everything in life is a choice. Those are two things I've taken to heart for sure.
5. If you could be any superhero or cartoon character, which one would you be and why?
Spani: That's tough. I don't think I'd be any one superhero in particular. I'd want to be anybody that was in a helping role, where they could do crazy things and just appear wherever and get people out of tight spots.
6. What's your favorite ride at Disneyland or Disney World?
Spani: I love anything with roller coasters. But I have motion sickness, too, so it's kind of a crazy contradiction. Every time I travel, I get sick. It's awful. Plane rides … bus rides. But if the ride doesn't spin or I don't feel claustrophobic, I'm OK.
7. What's your favorite TV show or movie?
Spani: I don't watch a ton of TV, and when I do watch, it's mostly sports. If it's during football season, then it's football on Saturdays. Even if I'm by myself in my apartment, I watch sports. … My dad played football. I watched football when I was 4 years old, and films and tapes during our lunch breaks since we were home-schooled.
8. What's your favorite comfort food?
Spani: My favorite comfort food would be my dad's BBQ. He can really grill, and being in Kansas City, you got great steak and BBQ. Anything my mom and dad make, I love.
9. Why do you wear No. 13 at Tennessee?
Spani: My dad wore 33. And we decided that all of us sisters would wear some number with three [in it]. But when I got to Tennessee, Candace [Parker] was 3, 33 was taken, 23 was retired. That kind of limited my choices. But 13 has great meaning for me. God's No. 1 in my life. Others are second. And I'm third.
10. Finish this sentence: Life as a Lady Vol is …
Spani: Always striving for excellence.