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A Day in the Life of a Caltech Athlete

At an academically oriented university such as Caltech, we
probably spend more time with schoolwork here than at other places. But this is
not to say that it’s all we do. Roughly one-fourth of Caltech undergrads
participate in an intercollegiate sport, and I plan on playing soccer and
tennis all four years.
With tennis in season, a typical day for me still looks
similar to one of a typical Caltech student. If I wakeup early enough, I’ll
grab some breakfast from open kitchen before class. The kitchens are open to
get food 7-11am, then 3-7pm. My favorite part about it is the berries. Everyday
they provide blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries, and I love berries!
There is also a toast/bagel station with jars of different spreads, juice,
milk, Chobani yogurt, and other fruit like bananas.
So anyways, depending on the day, I’ll have one or two
classes starting at 10am. In high school, ten seemed super late because we
would have already had three classes by then. But it’s a lot different now.

Then lunch is at noon; it’s fun to see professors and TAs getting their lunches
too in Chandler Café, though I’m too shy to say hi. After lunch I’ll go to a
couple more classes and get ready for tennis. By now open kitchen will be open
again, and if I’m in the mood will make myself something from the salad bar. There’s
also a pasta bar and soup in the afternoon. Yay food!
Tennis practice starts at 4:20pm for us and goes for two
hours. I know track starts earlier, but our coach wants us on time and not
rushed if class ends right at four. We do a variety of drills, practice
matches, and strategizing. Coach does a
good job of balancing practice that will help us in matches and games that are
fun. Something really cool about college athletics is that we have our own
trainers! And they are great at what they do. When I sprained my ankle a couple
months ago, they were able to assess it and give me rehab exercises to do. A
year ago I would’ve paid to go see a physical therapist, but now Caltech has it
all covered. Additionally, they taped my ankle for the first couple weeks and gave me a brace that I wear now. Many athletes, including myself, also heat before practice and ice
afterwards so our muscles work and we can perform better. I’m still pretty
impressed by the whole having a trainer concept, so I took pictures of the
their room.

This is my friend Cat; she plays volleyball!

We are very well stocked with tape.

One of the stem machines. I haven’t needed to use it and hopefully don’t have to. Not quite sure what it does but it’s for more serious injuries.

After all this, we get back to the dorms just in time for
dinner. We’ll have dinner in our houses then do whatever we were planning on
doing that night. Usually we will have a set to work on, and last term many
intense water fights in the halls transpired.
We usually have a couple matches on the weekends with season
in full swing. We have to manage our time more efficiently because they take
about half a day with warm up and everything. It’s really nice that we’re in SCIAC
league (NCAA DIII), and all the schools are pretty close to each other; versus
having to fly to play matches, the farthest school is an hour and a half drive
I think this pretty much applies to any extracurricular, but
sports are a really good way to meet and get to know new people. Our tennis
team is comprised of girls from all different houses. It’s also really easy to become
friends with athletes from other sports. So yea, that’s the gist of being an
athlete here. The best part for me is probably pushing myself in aspects other
than academics because overall, it’s a lot of fun.

Monica Li