This week's Athlete of the Week is Auburn High's Haley Mautz, a junior who plays center on the Tigers' girls basketball team.
Auburn Villager: How did you get your start playing basketball?
Haley Mautz: Well, I played a lot of sports when I was little, and so I was just kind of moving around with them. I played basketball since third grade, and I always liked it.
AV: What drew you to playing basketball?
HM: Just the competition and just being with my friends is really fun.
AV: What is the most challenging part for you about playing center?
HM: Probably when I play someone who is the same height as me, and they're just very aggressive and I have to defend them. But the most challenging thing is playing somebody who is at the same level as me.
AV: What strategies do you take to overcome that?
HM: I just try to get in the mindset that I have to beat them. It's got to be very aggressive. I just have to stay on them the whole time.
AV: What do you like most about playing basketball?
HM: Playing with my friends and just the fun that we have the court, it's just better than anything, really.
AV: Do you have any role models or players you look up to?
HM: Kobe Bryant, really. It's really sad what happened to him. It's heartbreaking.
AV: What was it about Kobe that you liked?
HM: He was the first NBA player that I knew of when I was little and I just always watched him and loved him and the way he got down the court, he was very aggressive. It's inspiring.
AV: How is the season going for you so far?
HM: We're winning and losing some. But it's just as a team together — whatever we do, it's great, it's always fun.
AV: What has been your biggest learning experience since you started playing varsity?
HM: Humility, really. If I mess up or something, I've got to just keep going and get over it really quickly.
AV: Do you have any hobbies outside of sports?
HM: I like music. I play clarinet and piano. It's really fun. I used to be in band, but now I just play around with it.
Interview by Brian Woodham