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Proposals, Finance, Feve, and Dallas: An Exclusive Interview With Skylar Diggins

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One Foot Down’s Pat Rick spoke to Skylar Diggins about everything from her engagement to how she beat him on a Finance exam during their sophomore year at Notre Dame

NCAA Womens Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday I published a piece on Andrew Santino, the comedian and actor who stars in the show Here’s the Rub, as I had interviewed him about his show and his episode featuring Skylar Diggins that was posted today on go90.com.

Yesterday, I had the great fortune to follow that up with an interview of Diggins herself, and was able to ask her a classic Pat Rick smattering of questions about everything from her engagement, to her appearance on Santino’s show, to her work with the Allstate WBCA Good Works Team, to whether or not she likes South Bend’s classic Thursday night student hot spot, Club Fever.

NBA: NBA: All Star Game-Celebrity Game Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

She was a fantastic interviewee, and I highly recommend you read our exchange below to see what’s the latest with Notre Dame basketball legend and current Dallas Wings guard Skylar Diggins.

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Pat Rick: First and foremost - we had a class together at ND - sophomore year, Intro to Finance, with Carl Ackermann. When we got our first exams back, I think I got something like a 75 or 80 and I immediately saw something you tweeted saying you got, like, a 97. So I guess my question is: how in the world are you so good at both basketball and finance, while there are people like me out there who are good at neither?

Skylar: Finance is not my strong suit. I had a tutor for Finance to help me with it. That was the best I've ever done and that was the only reason why you've seen that tweet. It was mostly just an update for my mom to make sure I was going to class.

Pat Rick: *Makes a bad joke about his mom not being on Twitter during his time in college, thank the Lord*

Pat Rick: Okay so now that I got that question out of the way, you got engaged this summer to Daniel Smith, former Notre Dame wide receiver. How did he propose and were you surprised? Or did you know it was coming?

Skylar: We had talked about it before, but obviously you never know when it's coming. And he did such a great job. It was in an art gallery, as everyone knows he's a great artist - that's what he does.

So he proposed to me at an art gallery. I had no idea, he had a piece in there - he had designed it for me, but I had never seen it. While I'd be at practice he would work on it. It was up in the art gallery and I thought we were just going to take pictures to put on the site, and...he proposed!

So we are currently wedding planning, and yeah, all the fun stuff that goes along with that. It's gonna be in the springtime, so we're looking forward to a nice springtime wedding.

Pat Rick: *Congratulates Skylar on her engagement 6 months late*

Pat Rick: You play for the Dallas Wings, who were formerly the Tulsa Shock. How do you like Dallas as a city, what was it like relocating as a team, and how's the squad looking for this 2017 season?

Skylar: So being in Tulsa - I love Tulsa - I love the fans, you know. They just really embraced me and that was really the first city I had stayed and lived in, besides Indiana. That was my first time out of Indiana, in Tulsa. Going to Notre Dame and being from South Bend, I appreciate everything Tulsa did for me and my career in 3 years there. I love the community.

And then obviously, coming to Dallas, a huge sports city, one of the biggest sports towns...they just embraced us right away. We are one of the first professional women's teams they have had there and it’s just a huge basketball area, the DFW metroplex area. There’s so much talent that comes out of it and it has so much women's basketball talent still that come around. And we love the fans. They embraced us, and I'm looking forward to having a future with Dallas and the Wings organization.

WNBA All-Star Game 2014 Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As far as next season, I'm just looking forward to having a better year than last year, you know, with us losing a lot of close games [in 2016]. I obviously wanted to come off my injury and have a strong year, so it was a little disappointing. So our first year we want to make a big splash and do really well so I think next year we're gonna be thinking about that and what we need to do to really put a product out there that Dallas is proud of.

Pat Rick: I know you do a lot of work with the Allstate WBCA (Women's Basketball Coaches Association) Good Works Team. Tell me about what exactly that is and why it’s important.

Skylar: The Allstate WBCA Good Works Team nominates 97 Division I, II, and III athletes that have shown exemplary work in their community and have really just emerged as role models in their communities and given back.

For me I think it's a very necessary award. A lot of times, people don't really understand what goes on behind the scenes with student athletes, having so much to juggle and having so many responsibilities for both athletics and academics - traveling, the late nights, having to get up for the early morning classes and having to take tutors on the road and study hall on the road - it's just a lot.

And then for these young ladies to have the resumes that they have - the list of initiatives they're involved in - while juggling 4.0 GPAs and engineering and different majors that are almost impossible for student athletes to try to juggle, and do so well in, and to have their commitment to basketball and academics...I think it's gonna be tough picking for the people like me [on the panel who selects the finalists].

It's gonna be tough choosing a final squad, but these initiatives are so diverse, from Boys and Girls Club to Special Olympics to working at different clinics abroad for weeks at a time, these young women are just really, really positive role models that really care about their communities and they're getting recognized for their actions off the court and for giving back.

The Martin Luther King Center Offers Congratulations To Skylar Diggins As She Heads To Oklahoma Tulsa Shock Photo by Jeff Schear/Getty Images

Pat Rick: Thoughts on the ND women's team this year? They're currently undefeated and #2 and about to play #1 UConn in a huge match-up Wednesday night.

Skylar: I think the game is gonna be great tomorrow. Anytime you have #1 versus #2 in the building, it's gonna be exciting, and when you have those two teams with rich history, I think a lot of people are going to see what it's going to look like - what we have to look forward to in women's college basketball this year. There have already been a lot of upsets and people moving around in rankings, and to have such a buzz around women's college basketball so early with this game being on in December - it's not gonna make or break too much for both teams, but it's definitely a treat for the fans and the hometown crowd.

But that's the thing, we've gotten so used to seeing Notre Dame and Connecticut play so often and now it doesn’t happen as much, so I think everybody will really be tuned in to check out what does 1 vs. 2 look like, with both rosters playing everybody.

NCAA Womens Basketball: WNIT Tournament-First Round Joe Raymond-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Rick: This is almost certainly a stupid question, but who do you think will win?

Skylar: Well, obviously I want my Notre Dame Fighting Irish to come through, especially to protect home court. I think it'd be a huge win. You're playing a team like Connecticut though so you're definitely gonna have to be prepared to take it from them. It's not a team that's gonna lie down. I think it'll be a tough match-up and a good game, and I’m hoping my ladies can pull it out, but like I said I think it's just great what these two teams are going to be doing for the game and I think a lot of people will be tuned in.

Pat Rick: I spoke last night to Andrew Santino, also known as Nikolai Popov from the sports comedy show Here's the Rub. Tell me what it was like to be on that show, to film that interview with such a goofy Russian character, etc.

Skylar: It was interesting. It was very, very funny and entertaining to say the least. I want you to watch, if you get a chance - check it out tomorrow.

In the beginning, like when he walks in, I just look so confused. They didn’t give me a lot to go on. I knew he was a comedian, but he kinda turned it on and it was pretty hilarious. It was definitely a funny show and a funny episode so I encourage you to check it out tomorrow.

It was the most different interview I've ever done.

Nikolai Popov interviews Skylar Diggins on the sports comedy show Here’s the Rub
Property of Mandalay Sports Media

Pat Rick: Switching gears even more here, my friends and I are huge fans of the Backer - what's your favorite Notre Dame bar and why?

Skylar: Oh man! How do you choose?!

I would say you've got the traditional ones like you said, and then I think now when people come to Notre Dame they say, "Hey can you show us where that Brothers is?" "Can you take us to Brothers?" "Where's that Brothers place?" So I think that's probably the biggest request I probably get.

*talking to someone in the background*

He said Backer. The Backer is popular, yup. Dan [Smith] said the Backer too. I think between those two now, those are the two that people like, ya know?

Pat Rick: *Silently celebrating that Daniel Smith also said the Backer*

Pat Rick: Follow-up question - what about Club Fever? You a Feve fan?

Skylar: *Laughs*

I wasn't a Thursday Feve type of girl. I mean, shoot, we really didn’t have time - we missed out on the fun stuff. We were always gone and moving around. You think about kinda wanting to go do something and you're like ‘yeah, I’ve got practice, I'm not going.’ But now, when I'm home and I get to move around...I just like the food better at Brothers.

Pat Rick: What do you think Notre Dame football needs to do to get things turned around? And since it sounds like Dan is there, what’s his opinion?

Skylar: Ohhh man.

*chuckles*

I won't even ask him that question. Oh man. I think for us, we're gonna be fans either way, ya know? I think you can’t be fair weather when it comes to your alma mater's squad.

This season hurts! It hurts! But I'm glad it's over. I'm ready for next season, but we still believe! We have fair weather fans, but we can't have the kind of year you wanna have every year. I think in South Bend we've been a little spoiled too, especially when we went there, getting to that championship game and getting that team that was so successful.

Notre Dame v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

So yeah I just think this is a bump in the road and it's one year.

I think a lot of people are shocked because of the success in recent years. We've been spoiled with a great organization in our backyard. You know a lot of fans were hurt about it, but I just don't think one year defines a program. I think those kids worked their tails off still. I don't have another collegiate football team that I cheer for, besides my Irish. I'll be neutral for the playoff this year.

Pat Rick: *holds back argument about how Brian Kelly stinks because that was such a positive, hopeful answer from Skylar*

Pat Rick and Skylar: *General thank yous and goodbyes, ending the interview*

***

I want to give a quick shout out to Skylar for a fantastic interview - especially for putting up with my seemingly unrelated-to-each-other questions as we talked. She was a great sport and I’m excited for her as she has a big 2017 planned, what with a wedding and an important basketball season approaching.

Make sure you all follow her on Twitter and check out the #2 Fighting Irish women take on #1 UConn tonight at 7 PM ET on ESPN2!

Go Irish!