You could call sophomore defender Aisha Lott “Ish,” “Ishr,” “Isha” or just “Aisha,” depending on how many syllables you prefer.
You could also call her the voice of the defense on the UC Davis women’s soccer team.
While few defensive statistics are kept, Lott’s reach extends beyond just the anonymous back line as she has consistently made her presence known in the backfield since her freshman year. This year, the even louder and stronger Lott sat down with Aggie Sports writer Grace Sprague to talk about pre-game rituals, her development on the field and music.
Do you have any pre-game rituals that you would like to share with the readers?
Before the games, we all go into the team room and somebody turns on their iPod. I bring my own iPod because I have my own warm-up mix. Coach [Robinson] comes in and talks to us, and I have to get really pumped up. I have to find it in myself and get really hyped so that by the time I get to the warm-up, I’m ready to go mentally.
How long have you been playing soccer? When did you become a defender?
I’ve been playing soccer since I was four [years old]. Fifteen years is a pretty long time. I’ve always played defense. I’m not sure why, but my friends played defense, and I wanted to play back there so I could talk to them all the time. When you’re little, the games aren’t that intense, but you get a good conversation during the games.
What other colleges recruited you? What made you choose UC Davis?
I got a letter from UC Davis and one from the University of Nevada. I also went to the Stanford camp for incoming freshman. I was recruited there really late, and I wasn’t going to get to play much anyway. I came [to UC Davis] for my official visit in October of my senior year, and I stayed with Samantha Faber, Elise Winbrock and Lisa Kemp were on my visit also, and we went to the soccer game where they beat Cal State Northridge. We got to go into the team room before the game and make up raps and dances. It was really fun. I felt like I could talk to them and they were approachable. They were really cool kids.
What were some talents that you knew you’d bring to the table for the Aggies?
I knew I was fast – that’s one of my main attributes. I’m strong and pretty big, so I wanted to push people off the ball and knock people down. On my club team, I talked a lot. A freshman coming in and taking over doesn’t happen too much, so I didn’t talk in the games that much [last year].
Speaking of coming in and taking over, what happened between your freshman and sophomore year that made you more vocal on the field?
I’m older now and I know what’s expected. Last year I played outside back but this year I’m at center back. We had really good leadership last year, so I didn’t yell as much. This year we have good leaders, but they aren’t as vocal. They lead more by example.
Which of your teammates do you admire most on the field?
There is more than one player. First would be Lisa Kemp. She just has the craziest moves that come out of nowhere. Lisa’s not the fastest player on the field but she’s so deceptive. I think she’s going to go one way and she goes the other. Another player would be Marisa Boge because it doesn’t matter how fast the other girl is, somehow Boge gets in faster. It doesn’t even matter what size the girl is, so it’s pretty amazing.
You are only a sophomore, but have you thought about what you will do when your UC Davis soccer career is over?
My mom asks me that same question. I’m not sure. She says I could do research, get my PhD or become a professor and teach at school. I’m leaning towards research.
I read somewhere that when you aren’t playing soccer, you’re playing the tenor saxophone. Is that true?
I’ve been playing since the 7th grade, and I play sometimes when I go home. I didn’t bring it to school with me because I didn’t want to be known as “the kid with the saxophone that keeps everyone up at night.” But I play at home and I go home often.
Since entering the Big West Conference, UC Davis hasn’t had a winning record in league play. Realizing this, how important is it for you guys to finish off this season on a high note?
As a team, I definitely want to win these last two games. We won two all of last year and to be able to win three this year would be a big accomplishment. As a defender, I want a shutout. We’ve had one shutout all season in 17 games. My goal would be to get two more shutouts.
GRACE SPRAGUE can be reached at email@example.com.