Pilot in the spotlight: Kari Luttinen

By The Beacon | February 6, 2014 3:23am
Junior Kari Luttinen dribbles down the court in their game against Santa Clara.
Photo by Shellie Adams

By Maggie Hannon |

Kari Luttinen



Seattle, Wash.

What was the biggest adjustment you had to make to your game when transitioning from high school to college basketball?

I think the biggest adjustment would probably just be, you know, everyone who you’re playing against is a really good basketball player. I mean, everyone is Division I players so I think you just need to be a lot more stronger and lot more tougher going into that.

What is a typical game day like for you – Do you have any superstitions or pre-game rituals?

I always take a 45-minute nap on game day. Like 45 minutes exactly, and then we have shoot around. And then we have pre-game meal. And then we just go out and play the game.

Being from the Northwest, what is it like playing in the WCC and being able to visit cities such as San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and Malibu?

It’s great. WCC has beautiful schools – all with beautiful campuses, so it’s nice to get down to California for a little bit and see some sun. But it’s also great because you see people that you played against in high school in the conference, so it’s always fun to see them again, so it’s cool being in the WCC.

What is one of your favorite moments/memories with retiring coach Jim Sollars?

“Well the past three years with him have been awesome. I mean, I’ve loved him as a coach. He’s such a great person. One of my favorite memories is every year we go over there for Thanksgiving to his house and we all have Thanksgiving dinner together, which is I think a really good team bonding experience and It’s so awesome of him to, you know, treat us like his children, you know open his house up to us. It’s totally awesome.”

It looks like your 21st birthday falls on the same night as the Loyola Marymount game. Is there any added incentive to win because it is your birthday or are you just treat it like a normal game?

I mean, yeah! It would be awesome to get a win on my birthday that would be the best birthday present… ever. I’m definitely excited for the 21st.

Do you have any plans to celebrate after the game?

I think my parents might coming to the game so I probably may be going out with them or going out with my friends so we’ll see if we get the win. It’ll only be good if we get a win.

Have you ever had a hard time managing school and basketball?

Oh yeah, I think it’s always a challenge to manage your time on the road because you’re traveling every other weekend and missing a lot of school. So, I think it’s always hard but it’s important that I stay on top of my school work and do homework when we have any free time, which is vital.

Do you hope to incorporate basketball into your future in any way after you graduate from UP?

Yeah I always wanted to play overseas after college if I got the opportunity, but we’ll see how that goes. I mean, I still got one more year left.

Where would you want to play?

 Honestly I don’t know, somewhere in Europe probably. But I don’t really have a preference.

When did you first develop an interest in the game? What drew you to it?

I started playing basketball probably when I was like in third grade or around there. Like in the eighth grade I made the decision that I really wanted to play super competitively. I kind of made it a goal of mine to play in college. So I feel like seventh or eighth grade I kind of focused in on basketball.

Why did you decide to play at UP over the other schools you looked at?

I love the team, like the girls, my teammates are awesome. Our team chemistry is awesome as well. The coaching staff is great. It’s a great academic institution, also. So I think those three coupled together was a decision maker for me.

What is your favorite thing to do after a game?


Any food in particular, or just anything you can get your hands on?

Yeah pretty much. I like Mexican a lot after games. CB ( redshirt junior Cassandra Brown) and I go get for Mexican, she’s one of my teammates, we go after games sometimes.

What has been your most memorable game and why?

I think last year we played Gonzaga at Gonzaga and we lost, but I think it was a really big, pivotal moment for us growing as a team, maturity-wise, and just playing together. I think that we all found that we kind of clicked for the first time in a while, which was really nice. I think we lost by four or something like that, but it was a great atmosphere to play out in Spokane, so I think that was the most memorable.

If you could be any animated character, who would you be?

Probably SpongeBob, because I just love SpongeBob. It’s my favorite show, and he’s hilarious.

Is anyone the Patrick Star to your SpongeBob?

I feel like (junior) Amy (Pupa) and I are pretty goofy people – so I feel like we could honestly be any character in SpongeBob and we could have a good time.