Widgets Magazine

Westhem: Learning through living with student-athletes

One question that I always get when giving a tour to prospective undergraduates is what my favorite part about Stanford is. The answer for me is easy: the people.

We go to school with science, business, tech and musical geniuses and we are taught by Nobel Prize winners. Most important – to me at least – is that we go to school and are friends with world-class athletes.

I live with countless athletes from a wide variety of sports including crew, swimming & diving, volleyball, soccer, sailing, fencing, and track. Hearing their stories and personal recaps of the most recent event or game is really special. I get to be a part of the team secondhand and hear about the dynamics and highs and lows of being a student-athlete in a way that can’t be experienced just from watching a game.

As a huge Stanford sports fan, it’s really fun for me to always have women around me who love to talk about their sport and share their story – and trust me they are all more than willing to talk when given the slightest nudge.

At lunch yesterday I heard about the soccer team’s trip to Oregon and Oregon State (the Stanford women beat both) from senior Kendall Romine. She told me how the team was bummed that they were stuck in the same hotel as the UCLA football team in Eugene while Stanford was playing in Corvallis – wanting nothing more than to be in two places at once. And then came the story of a flight scheduling snafu that forced the team to find a last-minute flight for 30 people and made the group not get in until 1:30 a.m. the following morning.

Later I walked into senior Tally Buckstaff’s room to hear about how sailing went the previous weekend. The first thing I noticed was the open suitcase on the floor with clothes spilling out. She shrugged and mentioned how she has to travel so much for sailing – almost every weekend – that she doesn’t bother unpacking. We talked about the grueling race days on the water for 10-12 hours at a time, competing on Saturdays and Sundays (not just an afternoon or evening ordeal on the court or field as in other sports she pointed out).

While I was working on this column, sophomore Emily Grundman walked past, having just gotten back from weights with the crew team. I followed her to her room and even though she was slightly stressed and probably wanted nothing more than to take a shower, she got a burst of excitement when I asked her to talk about the Head of the American that took place on Saturday. She guided me through the whole day – from the sleepy 5:45 a.m. bus ride there, to the energized and accomplished, music-filled ride home.

Crew doesn’t get a lot of attention since it isn’t a spectator sport and there aren’t big moments of excitement like in scoring a basket or a touchdown; it’s an endurance sport and the entirety of the race is the big built-up moment. Furthermore, not one individual can make a difference; everyone in the boat is equally dependent on another. After covering the men’s trip to the Head of Charles and hearing Emily talk about the day, I have a new found appreciation for rowing.

Emily explained that crew is a really small community, so you’re racing against friends. There’s a lot of prep that goes into a regatta, like having to rig the boats when you get to a location, but there’s also time to get work done or mentally prepare for your race as you wait to cheer on one of the other boats in its home stretch. Or, in Emily’s case, she had no wait time and went straight from rowing in the eights race to the fours, back to back.

In taking time to talk to Emily about her time with crew I learned that she was actually supposed to play basketball at University of Chicago, before being offered the option of crew at Stanford. There are probably really cool stories like this that many Stanford athletes have to share and all we have to do is ask.

Ashley Westhem was committed to play Super Smash Bros. at Blue Mountain State University before The Stanford Daily swooped with an offer she couldn’t refuse. Ask Ashley what her favorite character was at awesthem ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Ashley Westhem

Ashley Westhem was Editor in Chief of Vol. 248 after serving as Executive Editor and Managing Editor of Sports. She is the voice of Stanford women’s basketball for KZSU as well as The Daily’s beat writer for the team and aids in KZSU’s coverage of football. She graduated in 2016 and is currently a Communications masters student. Ashley is from Lake Tahoe, California.