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Student-athlete spotlight: Yvette Cho ’19

By Zach Cihlar

Section: Sports

September 29, 2017

“I don’t have a life outside of volleyball,” Yvette Cho ’19 joked, capturing the busy life of a student-athlete at Brandeis University. As a member and captain of the Brandeis women’s volleyball team, she must balance her double major in Economics and Health: Science, Society, and Policy (HSSP) with a busy fall season of practice and games.

“I think it’s all about balance and management,” Cho explained, as well as a heightened focus on health and wellness, especially when games are at stake during the season. “It’s about being able to manage your school and your sport while staying healthy, mentally and physically—it’s a juggling act.”

Despite the added pressure of these responsibilities, Cho believes that “if you do it right, you have a really good experience.”

Just starting her third season with the team, Cho thinks she’s grown both on and off the court due to her dedication to the volleyball team. Elected to the position of captain in just her sophomore year, she learned to guide a team and lead by example, describing the position as multidimensional, in that “leadership” is not just one skill but a set of many skills.

“It was pretty difficult,” she said, explaining the overwhelming transition from teammate to captain in just one year. “Everyone was either older than me or my year, and I had to learn how to be a leader in many ways, besides being the most vocal.”

It was all made easier, she said, by the support of her teammates, who Cho describes as one of the best parts about playing for Brandeis women’s volleyball. “They’re so fun, they’re so smart and they inspire me to work hard,” she said of her teammates. There are 14 total women on the team, eight of whom are in the same graduating class as Cho. “There’s never a dull moment,” Cho added. The team is overwhelmingly represented by students studying HSSP or other science disciplines.

The environment the Brandeis women’s volleyball team hosts seems to be one that Cho was looking for when she was being recruited to play volleyball in college. After looking at schools within the University Athletic Association—a strong conference for student-athletes looking for programs that were also solid academically—she landed schools like Emory University and Brandeis.

When taking visits to Brandeis, she recalled that it felt more like home than any of the other schools she visited. “I also really just wanted to leave California,” she added.

Playing volleyball since a young age, Cho’s work on and off the court have put her team in a position to improve upon past results in the upcoming season. Feeling a heightened sense of confidence, the team has had marked improvement from previous years, boasting a winning record of 7-3 going into the UAA tournament’s first round robin.

Last year, the team finished their season with a 7-21 record, so the team is on track to do some damage in their upcoming schedule.

Cho owes the team’s substantial improvement to the increased culture of competition and focus that has developed on their team since she started. Great collegiate volleyball programs, she said, have a culture of dedication, hard work and sacrifice that pushes them to success in competition. “This year we are definitely growing and it’s reflecting in everything else, not just the win-loss ratio, but also what practices are like every day and what games are like—it’s a completely different environment,” she said.

The team will put this mindset to the test during the UAA tournament’s first round robin on Saturday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Sept. 31 in Cleveland, Ohio at Case Western Reserve University. They are also set to play a three-game home stand after they return to campus starting on Thursday, Oct. 5.

With over a month of games left, the team looks to prove their endurance, both mentally and physically. They are hoping to have one of their best seasons since 2012, when the team held a winning record of 21-10.

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