clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Interview: We caught up with the West Regional’s famous ‘Mop Girl’ in a hard-hitting Mid-Major Madness exclusive

She avoided being dunked on, and in doing so, captivated a nation.

Screenshot: @marchmadness

Years from now, your grandchildren will ask you where you were on Saturday.

You’ll sit them down on your lap, and they’ll look you in the eyes, then innocently ask, “where were you when you saw mop girl almost get dunked on in the 2017 West Regional Final between Gonzaga and Xavier?”

It was a moment that united a nation scarred by political strife, Oxford commas, and whether Bill Self is actually a good coach (he is).

If you missed it, here’s what happened:

Josh Perkins came up with an unexpected steal, and a 13 year-old girl named Kaitlyn Virola, who was only trying to do her job, saw her life flash before her eyes.

Mid-Major Madness caught up with this unexpected hero through the magic of Twitter.

“I just heard the crowd screaming loudly and I looked back, seeing Perkins running towards me and I tried my best getting out of the way,” Virola recalled. “After that, I sat back down and I was so flustered as the camera was facing me. The Gonzaga crowd called me to come over and join them on camera.”

Virola first got this position through the operations manager at the facility where she takes golf lessons. Once offered, she attended the open practices on Wednesday, where she got some quick on-the-job training. She learned, of course, when to mop, as well as when to hand water to the referees and help the players rebound during warmups.

But nothing could have prepared her for what was coming.

“I immediately knew I had to get out of the way,” she said. “Honestly, I was still shocked by that moment until I got home.”

When she got home, the texts and videos from friends started pouring in. Apart from the initial broadcast, she was on ESPN, written up by news outlets around the country, and naturally, she had become a Twitter celebrity.

Where does Virola go from here? It’s hard to say. She’s been rooting for Gonzaga since the tournament started, but is unsure about whether she’d like to be a “ball kid” again. She also plays basketball for San Jose Team Elite on the AAU circuit, so perhaps soon she will be the one on the fast break.

As we saw on Saturday, she has the wheels.