In preparation for the Georgia Lady Bulldogs’ 2017-18 campaign, senior forward Mackenzie Engram sat down with Georgiadogs.com to discuss her fourth and final year at Georgia, her brother’s budding NFL career and her plans to become a sports broadcaster.
Your brother, Evan, registered his first career NFL touchdown with the New York Giants a few weeks ago. What was it like seeing your brother realize his sport dreams?
“Honestly, I was at a [UGA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee] L.E.A.D. meeting, so I was keeping up with the game play-by-play on the ESPN app. When I was on my way home, that was actually when he scored. So, I wasn’t on my phone and I didn’t see it. Everyone was texting me, snapchatting me and I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh, please do not tell me he just scored.’ Of course, he scored and they have it all on Twitter, so I got to see it that way. It’s just been really cool to be able to see him turn his dreams into reality. That’s probably the best thing that I could witness as his sister knowing everything that he’s gone through and as close as we are. I was literally crying and was so proud of him.”
Does he give you inspiration to go after your dreams, athletic or otherwise?
“Definitely. I think growing up, being as competitive as we both were, really made me into the competitor that I am today. He also pushes me because I don’t want to be the “bad” Engram. I have a brother who’s succeeding in all this, so I want to succeed as well on the court. That’s another push for motivation, but he’s very supportive and he’s always making sure that I’m getting in the gym extra, moving up in the weight room and just trying to be a better player than I was the year before.”
Have the incoming freshmen provided a spark within the program?
“They have provided a huge spark. All of them are definitely very motivated and they love the game. It’s refreshing to not have to tell them, ‘Get in the gym, get in the gym.’ They kind of make me get in the gym more. I’m like, ‘I’ve got this freshman class that gets in the gym every day, why can’t I?’ Even the two transfers, Taja [Cole] and Bianca [Blanaru], that had to sit out last year, they provide a huge spark as well. Obviously when you come in as a freshman, it’s all still very new to you. That’s probably the biggest thing with them — just getting used to the different type of play and how quickly things move, but once they get it, they’re great. Once we get the season going and practice under our belt and they start learning the plays, I think they’re gonna mesh really well.”
What makes Georgia Basketball so special to you?
“I would personally say the family environment we have here. I can go hang out with Joni for a day at her house and we sit and watch T.V. all day, or I can go get lunch with Coach Chelsea [Newton] or go babysit Coach Karen [Lange]’s kids. We are a family off the court, which is important to everyone here: to feel like this is my home away from home and it always will be. Off the court, having that support and having that relationship with every single one of your staff members is so important and it’s not common.”
What is something you’ve tried to fine tune this offseason?
“Just being overall comfortable with where I am, no matter if I’m on the block or if I’m on the perimeter, making sure that I can handle the ball, I can shoot the ball, but I can also power down on the block and be more physical. That’s something I’ve been working on with my overall game, but I think this offseason I’ve been focused on striving in whatever position they put me in.”
What piece of advice would senior Mackenzie give to freshman Mackenzie?
“Get in the gym. Now that I’m a senior and I’m reflecting on the past three years. I could’ve worked out so much more and my game could have been beyond what it is now. Now that it’s my last year and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh it’s my last year, I have to get in the gym every day and work on this, this and this,’ it’s like: why didn’t I do this the three years before. So I would say: take advantage of every second that you get to better your game because I wouldn’t say that I’m the same player that I was when I got here, but I definitely could have had a more advanced game than I do now from when I got here.”
Have some influences with ties here at Georgia, like Maria Taylor or Andy Landers, pushed you toward broadcast journalism?
“Definitely. When I first came, I thought about going into the nursing field. My mom is a nurse and just being able to help others and make a difference in someone else’s life has been of huge importance to me. But when I came here, we didn’t have a nursing school, so I said, O.K., what else am I comfortable in that I could see myself doing for the rest of my life. Sports broadcasting came to mind and I’ve always been a good speaker in front of people, I’ve been very comfortable. When I came on my visit, they actually took me to Grady [College] and the newsroom, and we did a show. I was like, ‘I can totally do this.’ I felt great and it was a lot of fun, and then I actually got to meet Maria Taylor and hear her story about everything. She loves it and seeing her progress in the way that she has, I want to follow in her footsteps and become who she has and carry on that Georgia legacy in the broadcasting world, same with Coach Landers.”
What’s one hobby that people don’t really know you do?
“I like to draw or write out quotes in fancy handwriting, but I put it on my Snapchat so I feel like people know that about me. I used to love to skate, which a lot of people don’t know, but now that I’m here I’m very limited on activities that could possibly lead me to an injury. I would say creative writing, scripture quotes, just anything.”
The team earned wins over Tennessee, LSU and Auburn in the same year for the first time since the 1997 season. Do you see those wins as moments you can build off of?
“Definitely hope to expand on that. I think I remember the most really out of the Tennessee game was just slightly freaking out in double overtime. We came this far, we need to beat them, it’s been  years since we have. Then just hearing the buzzer go off and I remember I closed out on her shot, and I was like, ‘If this goes in, it’s on me’ and just turning around and seeing the ball scoop out of the rim, it was like a shot of butterflies just flew out of my stomach. It was probably the most fun game I’ve played in since I’ve been here and will definitely remember it forever.”