Get To Know Kia Vaughn

Just like any college senior, Kia Vaughn is eagerly anticipating her next step towards becoming a professional.

Only, instead of spending her days job hunting or sitting behind a desk in a business suit like her class-mates will do next month following graduation, Vaughn will be suiting up in a whole other way. When the Liberty opens its Training Camp on May 17, she will take center stage in a brand new life. It will be a life that the Bronx, NY native never could have imagined. Especially since she never actually liked basketball anyway.

As she chats up NYLiberty.com, find out how she started to embrace the opportunity to play, as well as who is responsible for her loving something else - video games.

NYL: What are you looking forward in the next couple of weeks before Training Camp opens?
KV
: I think just the overall atmosphere; getting to know every one on the staff, my new team-mates. And just having the opportunity to be a part of a new team and learning new things.

NYL: What do you think youíll miss most about college off the court?
KV
: Off the court, I will miss the food. Yeah, having that access to the dining hall 24-7. I donít think I will miss school [laughs].

NYL: What will you miss on court from college?
KV: Of course, my loving team-mates and coach. Just the experience of being coached by Coach Stringer and playing on your home floor. Now Iím transitioning to a new home floor, so thatís great.

NYL: Do you remember when the WNBA started back in 1997?
KV: No. I was seven or eight and I didnít know anything about the WNBA, only the NBA. When I actually began to play basketball, thatís when I did.

NYL: How and when did you start playing basketball?
KV: I was a junior in high school and was forced to play.

NYL: Forced?
KV
: Yes, by my mother.

NYL: Why did she do that?
KV: Because I was growing, and she didnít want me just hanging around in our neighborhood.

NYL: What did you think of it?
KV: I hated it, it just wasnít for me [laughs]. I did not think there was a possible way for me to learn or to be good, and just understanding the basics. For someone that likes to dance, I was very uncoordinated. It was the worst.

NYL: When did you start to like it?
KV: When I got injured.

NYL: Why's that?
KV: Because I was watching it from the sidelines, seeing what other people could do and I realized then that I wanted to participate, too. I then would say to myself that I could do anything I put my mind to. Plus, basketball just consumes your life when you're a part of it. I can look back now and see how much I grew from then and be proud.

NYL: Now that basketball is going to be your full-time job after college, do you thank your Mom for that push back then?
KV
: Yeah, my mom knows I love her. I am thankful for having her force me to play basketball. She had great intentions and itís created great results.

NYL: Like that you stress that word, force. Is there a reason why she picked basketball for you and not any other sport?
KV: If you ask her, sheíll tell you that she played in junior high school for the uniforms. Thatís right, for the uniforms, but my dad also played for a very long time. My mom and aunt met a man that eventually became my AAU coach, and saw that he had a team and they wanted me to be a part of it.

NYL: Letís chat about New York, do you have a favorite spot you like to hang out at when youíre here?
KV: I have a few spots I like, but I really just like to go everywhere.

NYL: Being just over the river at Rutgers during college, how often did/do you come back into the city?
KV: My freshman year, every chance I got. So that was probably every weekend I was home. Of course that was when I wasnít in season. But then as time went on, I realized home would always be home, and New York is never going away.

NYL: Right, New York will never change. So what are you watching on TV these days?
KV: I watch The Game and love all of the reality TV shows, like I Love New York, For The Love of Ray J and I Love Money. I want to go on Deal or No Deal , I love that show.

NYL: Do you play any video games?
KV : Youíll love this, I just bought the Nintendo DS, because I saw Beyonceís commercial for it. I love Beyonce. I had never played video games until I saw her commercial. I even have the Beyonce phone.

NYL: Beyonce has her own phone?
KV : She has her own phone.
(Editor's note: It's true, she took the phone out of her pocket to confirm this.

NYL: Have you ever seen her in concert?
KV: The first concert I ever saw was her, here [Madison Square Garden]. It was great. Even if she just came out on the stage and wouldnít do anything, I would just watch her. I love her. My team-mates and my mom are always laughing at me about it. One of my dreams is to meet her.

NYL: Hope that comes true soon. What other than Beyonceís music do you listen to?
KV: Iím very open to music, I like Rihanna, Keri Hilson and I listen to Jay Z because of Beyonce. I also like Ciarra, I love to dance along. I love to dance.

NYL: Really? A lot of college sometimes offer dance as a course you could take, did Rutgers have that?
KV
: No. If they did, I would have. I definitely would have.

NYL: So what are you looking forward to this summer?
KV: Iím looking forward to playing on the floor, that first day I get to wear the uniform and learning new things. This is the biggest stage. Every stage of basketball has something new you get to learn, so I am looking forward to this next stage.

NYL: Of course we have to talk about Essence, what was the communication like for you two last year during your junior season and her rookie season with us? Did you talk a lot?
KV: It was off and on, we were around each other as much as we could be; weíre family. Weíd eat at relatives houses together and sheíd come back to Rutgers when she could. We talked about my season, how she handled her senior season, she taught me how to be calm and open up. I struggled in the beginning, so I needed her help. Knowing how busy my season was and with her being overseas now, itís slowed down our communication.

NYL: Are you anticipating having lots of friends and family follow you this summer?
KV: Yes, there has been a number of people that contacted me that I didnít even realize still had my cell phone number that are telling me they saw me on TV and are going to come watch me this summer. I believe that since St. Michaelís [her high school] is so close, my coaches and nuns would come to watch. Even though Rutgers wasnít that far, my family never had the chance to come a lot, so with The Garden being in the heart of the city, everyone can come and support not only me, but my team, too!

Join Vaughn and the Liberty at Madison Square Garden in the first pre-season game of the summer on Thursday, May 21 at 11:00 a.m. versus the Washington Mystics. Tickets are on sale via NYLiberty.com, The Garden Box Office and 877-WNBA-TIX.