Athletes Reflect

Oliver Leeds ’19
I’ve been on JV Tennis and Squash for four years; they have both played an integral part of my experience at Hotchkiss. I’ve [also] had the opportunity to be the captain of the tennis team for the past two years and [of the] squash [team] this past year. It’s been a great opportunity to guide younger kids the way I was guided as a Prep and Lower Mid. Being a proctor is a lot of the same stuff, but [as a captain] I really get to aid in the development of these kids and have an impact on their growth as people in a much different way than in the dorm.
I’ve also been grateful for [my] relationships with coaches. Not only have they helped with my skills on the court, [but] Mr. [David] Bolmer and Mr. [Danny] Smith have become more like parents to me and helped shape the man I am today.
Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I just love that quote. It has definitely embodied my career in JV sports at Hotchkiss. Being a captain has helped me develop as a leader; I have gotten better at that as I led the JV tennis team to back-to-back undefeated seasons.

Britney Douglas ’19
Thirds Soccer will forever be my favorite team. During the winter and spring seasons, I always found myself looking forward to the following year just so it could be fall again, and I could get out on the field. I will never forget the Senior captains my Prep year: Allegra, Locke, and Virginia. I’m not sure [if] they realize it, but those three provided guidance, advice, and mentorship to me and the rest of the team. That always stuck with me.
I carry that notion with me now in my Senior year, in which I [have] had the privilege to be the co-captain of a team of 19 marvelous girls, alongside my best friend, Amanda Maia ’19.
The fact that I was able to come in as a silly little Prep, knowing absolutely nothing about soccer and develop a level of skill in the sport is fascinating. Thirds Soccer was where I made my first close friends, won (and lost) my first games, and, for the first time, truly felt [like] I belonged at this school. My love for soccer bloomed, and I can’t envision a fall without soccer.
This year, I wanted to make sure other girls [would have] as positive an experience in Thirds Soccer as I have. I hope I accomplished that.

Ashton Welch ’19
Sports have been a way for me to decompress after school, have fun, and get to know people. Most of the people on my teams are people that I don’t have classes with or that I wouldn’t ever [have met outside of] sports.
The only team that I have played on for four years was JV Lacrosse. When I got here, my coach Dr. Nina Otterson was also my teacher. In addition to her helping me in the classroom in a hard subject, she was able to help me on the field. She was a mentor for me; she was one of the most encouraging presences on campus. [For] the past two years, I’ve played JV Squash and Coach Lisa Brown, has been a parent figure for me here. She is so easy to talk to, and she really wants to get involved in our lives and figure out what’s going on to help us in any way she can. She’s [ready to] help me on and off the court to learn how to do things around here.

Ian Gill ’19
When I was accepted to Hotchkiss in March 2015, I had never run more than three miles consecutively, [so] the [idea of] joining cross country seemed daunting. However, thanks to Coach Pierre Yoo, I found a training plan to slowly increase my mileage over the summer.
As soon as I came to Hotchkiss, I caught the running bug and wanted to run further and further, to the point that I asked to train for marathons during my Upper Mid and Senior winters. Due to my increased focus on running, however, I found myself losing interest in tennis, a sport I had played since 5th grade. So, after playing in pickup games Lower Mid and Upper Mid year, I decided to join Ultimate for my Upper Mid spring. Thanks to Hotchkiss, I am planning on continuing both Ultimate and distance running semi-competitively in college.

Szilveszter Palvolgyi ’19
When I arrived on campus, it was [my] basketball teammates, like Ryan O’Neil ’18 and Kenneth Wu ’18, who helped me move my stuff in, orient me [to] campus, and bring me to certain locations. They’ve really been there with me since day one. [Athletics has] made [a] major impact on both my personal and physical development, but I would highlight my personal development more. I made a lot of close friendships through sports, whether that’s [on] Basketball, Ultimate, or Club Golf. It has been a very special community to be a part of.
Coach Yasine Talhaoui has been way more than just a coach to me. He’s been a personal mentor, ever since he was my interviewer back when I applied [to] Hotchkiss. He’s made a major impact on my Hotchkiss experience. He helped me whenever I [had] issues unrelated to basketball, as well. [I] really enjoy his company, appreciate him as a mentor, [and] respect him greatly as a person. He’s an amazing coach within the field of basketball, and I’m sure that he’s going to move the program into places it has not been before.

Talya Li ’19
I’ll miss the family that I [have] had on JV Volleyball. I’m so lucky that every single year, I got to start it with this group of girls. I’ve had options to play on other teams, but every year [I loved] coming back to the same place, and my coach [Mr. Bill Fenton] is a large part of that.
On JV, there’s a certain degree of rigor, but also room for fun, games, and building relationships. You obviously improve as a player, but the first and most important thing is [that] you improve as a person. Volleyball is a sport in which communication is important, [so] if you don’t trust one of the girls on the team to receive the ball, or to give you a good pass, there’s no point to it. On the back line of our team, there’s always the same [two] girls [with me] and I really trust them. I don’t have to say anything to tell them to get [the ball], and they’ll get it if it’s not mine. [I appreciate that we are] different people but also think the same, and [I]trust them with my whole heart.

Being able to play with the Phentinators on JV Volleyball has made me a better person [in the] way that I treat other people, the way I don’t put myself first as much, and in that I’m a more vocal person. I don’t bottle up as much as before and I feel very open and willing to share my thoughts with other people. [JV Volleyball] has made me a better person and I’ll definitely carry that forward with me.