Little League. High School Sports. NCAA College Athletics. The Super Bowl. The Olympic Games. Athletics are an important pillar throughout all stages of society. The Eagles are playing on everyone’s TV on most Sundays of the school year. Yet, student athletes seem to be forgotten in graduate school. Many CAMB students are still highly involved in athletics, from the social intramural level up through the professional level. These students have a passion competing in athletics that their fellow students and PIs alike are unaware of. This article spotlights four graduate student athletes, or “GRAthletes,” who participate in in a variety of sports to compete, stay healthy, release stress, and importantly to have fun .
Exercising is an important part of leading a healthy life. And, even if you are not a top athlete, there are many opportunities at Penn for grad students and faculty to exercise and play sports. There are many intramural leagues, club sports teams, social leagues, pickup games, and gyms in and around Penn to choose from. We hope telling these students’ stories will encourage students and faculty to participate and support others in athletic endeavors.
Pro GRAthlete: Coral Kasden, 1st year GTV student
Team: Men’s High Performance Group for the New York Athletic Club (NYAC)
Goal: To be selected as coxswain for the United States boat in the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
Fun Fact: Coral was a coxswain at UC Santa Barbara during undergraduate years. Her NYAC team won the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta in October 2018
Coral's Thoughts: You really have to be dedicated to be a competitive athlete in grad school. Whenever we are not in class or studying we are expected to be in lab, which makes fitting in practices difficult. This means early morning and late evening training is the only way to do it, and an hour incubation can be easily turned into a quick workout at the gym! My PI thinks it’s really cool that I have this other life outside of school, as long as I’m getting my work done. It’s fun. It keeps me sane!
Coral and her NYAC team winning the Head of the Schuylkill
Pro GRAthlete: Corey Holman, 1st year CPM student
Sport: Obstacle Course Racing (OCR)
Goals: To win the 2019 Spartan US Stadion Series and place at the 2019 OCR World
Championships in London, England.
Fun Fact: Corey was a gymnast at Brown as an undergraduate and has since translated that love of flipping over things into OCR. She had a top 3 podium finish in seven out of nine of her competitive races in 2018. As a fun, new challenge, she is also branching out into triathlons this coming season!
Corey's Thoughts: Competing at such a high level against professional athletes while being a PhD student is tough. Making your own training schedule and keeping yourself accountable is the hardest part – it’s easy to skip a workout when school gets busy. Working efficiently is key to fit in morning workouts, classes, lab work, and studying. I love racing on weekends because it is a way to get out of Philly to do something totally different and thrilling. Plus, the people I meet through this sport are some of the best individuals around.
Club GRAthlete: Matt Pine, 1st year GTV student
Sport: Division I Club Volleyball
Team: Penn Men’s Club Volleyball
Position: Outside hitter
Goals: To qualify for the national tournament in Denver, CO in April 2019 and to improve as an individual player in general.
Fun Fact: Matt played Club Volleyball during his undergrad at Franciscan University. Penn Club Volleyball is currently ranked 5th in the nation, and Matt helped beat Lehigh at the Palestra three games to none in November 2018.
Matt's Thoughts: This is how I maintain a healthy lifestyle outside of lab. My availability for volleyball practice is dependent on my grad schedule, so I try to plan ahead with assignments to make it to my two-hour practices, three times a week. Managing the workload means I can both travel to weekend tournaments and stay on top of my lab work. I’ve loved the support I’ve gotten from my fellow students that are excited to see me play.
Intramural GRAthlete: Jake Hoffman, 1st year GTV student
Sport: Intramural (IM) volleyball- Grad/Faculty/Staff league
Team: Gene Gnomes
Position: Team captain
Goals: Play some volleyball, have some fun, and meet some cool people who you normally wouldn’t meet.
Fun Fact: Jake has played everything IM from ultimate frisbee to broomball and is an avid runner. Jake led the Gene Gnomes to qualify for the playoffs this season, where they finished in a comfortable 4th place, which was “better than expected!”
Jake's Thoughts: Sports are something that I enjoy doing, and at the IM level it’s very social. They are fun way to release the stresses of grad school. You can have the simulated drama of a sports movie without the high stakes when you play IM. You also get really good at giving motivational speeches with gnome puns intended!
Jake and the Gene Gnomes battling in the playoffs – while having fun!