GVSU won their 6th-straight National Title a few weeks ago. Junior Aaron Krafft has his best performance of the year at Nationals, and it was enough to earn him Baller of the Month! I chatted with Aaron about everything from his mindset, to his favorite dodgeball memories, to which Disney movies he thinks are the best. Read our interview below:
Kevin Bailey: First off, congratulations on wining Baller of the Month. How does it feel to cap off the season with a National Title and a well-deserved BOTM distinction?
Aaron Krafft: Thanks, Kevin. Winning the National Title this year was unlike any other year because of what we went through this season to get there. Outside of MDC, we never played to our potential but at Nationals we played better than I thought was possible. As far as BOTM goes, I’m honored to be chosen because I know there are lots of others worthy of the distinction.
KB: When facing a team as skilled as CMU, it’s very rare for an individual to have a performance as dominant and efficient as what you did in the Title Game. People who weren’t in attendance may not realize just how big of an impact you had on that game. Walk us through your mindset before, during, and after that blowout win that clinched your school’s 6th-straight title.
AK: Coming into the weekend I felt it was our responsibility to bring the trophy back home and I knew we would have to go through CMU to get it. Before the game I felt great about how we had been playing all weekend and in the pregame huddle I could sense the focus of our team. Personally, I had the mindset that I needed to play my best game of the year. During the game my mindset was to hit feet as hard as I could; leave no possibility of a catch. It wasn’t until after Ben Smart’s heroics that I was confident we were going to win. After the game my focus was on taking back the trophy Colin O’Brien had rudely taken from me, telling him he was wrong not to pick us, and getting Coda Gallagher back to GV by 8am for his exam (His exam was in 13 hours and it took us about 13 hours to drive to VCU).
KB: People throughout the league want to know: what exactly is it about GVSU that causes your team to consistently be so great? Any insight you’d like to share, or do you not want to give away your secrets?
AK: The water at Grand Valley breeds excellence.
KB: During your three years on the team, what have been your favorite moments? Either on the court or off it.
AK: My favorite on the court moments are each of our National Championships. Each year has been unique and incredibly satisfying because of the journey we took to win each one. My favorite off the court moments are all the long trips we have taken. On those long car rides and nights in hotels I have learned some very interesting things about my teammates.
KB: Which teams in the NCDA do you most enjoy playing, and why?
AK: I love playing all the Michigan teams because of the rivalries we have with each of them. It’s always a lot of fun to hear Kenny Mize talk about how they are going to be us but never do. I also love taking trips to the east cost to play the likes of Towson and JMU, and to see how teams like VCU and Virginia have progressed. Overall, my favorite team to play against is JMU. Their style of play and the competitiveness of the games make for a fun game.
KB: If you could draft any athlete (living or dead) to join the GVSU Dodgeball Team next year, who would it be?
AK: Baker Mayfield because he’s an athlete, can throw, and his personality on and off the court would be entertaining to say the least.
KB: The content team wants to know: who is your celebrity crush?
AK: Carrie Underwood. She’s a beautiful woman with a voice of an angel. Watching her on Sunday Night Football leaves me in awe every time.
KB: Careful with this one… whose ego was more annoying to deal with as captain? Brandon Meisel or myself?
AK: First off, I’m happy to hear you are aware both your egos are very annoying! Its hard to say since you guys have many similarities but if I had to choose I’d say you. I remember a couple of days when practice got heated and you were very unopen to other opinions.
KB: This is a big one, so answer wisely. Rank your Top 5 Disney Movies of All-Time…
- Lion King 1.5
- Lion King
- The Emperor’s New Groove
- Aladdin: The King of Thieves
Honorable Mention: Robin Hood, Up, Finding Nemo
I’d like to express my disappointment that Ice Age is not allowed on this list. Before you question my number 1, think about who your favorite two characters are from the original Lion King, now imagine if they made a movie based on those two characters. That is Lion King 1.5.
KB: GVSU returns nearly all their starters from 2018. What are your expectations for your team in 2019?
AK: The expectations are higher than ever before. With many teams graduating key players it will be expected that we go undefeated next season and our best competition will be JMU in the championship. Those are fair expectations but also, I think our competition in the state is still going to be tougher than what most expect. MSU really developed well over the course of this season and have a couple of talented young guys. SVSU and CMU I hear are losing some key players, but both those teams have been great teams since I’ve been around so I’m sure they’ll find a way to continue being top tier teams in the league.
KB: Outside of GVSU, do you have any bold predictions for the 2018-19 season?
AK: There will be a rematch of “The Game of the Year” between VCU and MSU except this time they will be playing for a spot in the final four. You heard it here first.
KB: Any final thoughts?
AK: Thanks for choosing me to be Baller of the Month. I’m already excited for next season and to see how the league develops.