January 24, 2013

In the Saddle with Tashina Ototivo

CHICKASHA — As the team’s only four-year starter, Tashina Ototivo has been through it all with the Drovers — and this season has held no exception to the gamut of highs and lows.

The season started off strong for the Drovers, who were 9-3 going into conference play. But the tough Sooner Athletic Conference slowed the season down — something Ototivo said they are working to overcome.

“I believe at the beginning of season we were so pumped, so excited, because we saw how much talent we had that we just hit it on a high note,” Ototivo said. “We’ve just got to find whatever it was that we had at the first of the year that sparked … our energy.”

Jennifer Hayden came on as head coach this season, which presented a change and slight challenge to Ototivo and her teammates. The end result, however, has been positive, Ototivo said.

“She just has a way to come out onto the floor and just make us do the work,” Ototivo said of Hayden. “I just have a huge respect for her and how she handles the program.”

Coming in as a freshman from Walters in 2009, Ototivo was pleasantly surprised to be able to attend USAO for both academic and athletic reasons. She planned to redshirt her freshman year, but instead was the only player to see playing time in every single game of the 2009-10 season — and something she’s repeated again each season since.

“It was more of a shock to come to USAO because I first knew about USAO through music, and I thought it would be so cool to go to the school,” she said. “Being at USAO is definitely in God’s plan and just having me step up in all aspects of life. I think it’s an honor coming to USAO.”

Drover fans can watch the interview with Tashina Ototivo at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Friday on local Channel 18.

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