WHO NEEDS SLEEP?: Caitlin Ly ’10 knows how to keep all the balls in the air. Her first year at Vassar, she played three sports, volleyball, squash, and rowing, was elected vice president of her class, and sat on several committees. Now in her senior year, the political science major still swings her squash racket, as she fills out law school applications and begins her term as the new president of the Vassar Student Association (VSA).
“I’m not sure when the last VSA president was also a varsity athlete, so it could be interesting trying to juggle it all,” she says with a laugh. And what about sleep? “People think I’m crazy, but I just try to have a really good schedule! I’ll work around practice first and then meetings. Then I go to classes and try to sleep somewhere in between.”
If the past three years are any indication, this has been a winning formula for Ly. When she first started looking at colleges, she knew strong academics were a must, as was a strong volleyball team. After a last-minute decision to tour Vassar, she met with the college’s volleyball coach, Jonathan Penn. “I remember thinking, ‘There’s not a single thing he said about the college that I wouldn’t love,’” she recalls. Ly’s passion for volleyball traces back to the sandy beaches of Los Angeles, where she first picked up the sport. She played through high school in St. Louis (Ly’s family now lives in Tucson), adding softball, basketball, and badminton to her yearly roster.
During her first year at Vassar, she set her sights on two additional sports — rowing and squash. After she picked up a racket on a whim, the squash coach realized her enthusiasm and offered to teach her the game. Ly ended up joining the team and quickly advanced to the number three position. In 2008, the team went on to win the C Division of the Howe Cup, a national championship tournament for women’s college teams. “People thought I was crazy for playing three sports, but it’s such a great stress reliever, and my teammates are good friends,” she says. “There are also a lot of professors who play squash, and it’s fun to challenge them, though they really hate losing to students!”
As a senior, Ly made the tough decision to only play squash. “Though I did think about trying to add lacrosse,” she says with a smile. “The great thing about Vassar is that if you want to join a team, you’re really welcomed and respected. You’re not doing it for credit or getting paid. You’re doing it for the love of the game.” Dropping back to one sport also leaves time for Ly to pursue another passion — political science. As the head of the VSA, Ly meets with students and senior officers, weighing in on important campus issues and engaging in the shared governance that gives Vassar students and administrators an equal stake in decision making. “I wanted to run for VSA president to ensure that everyone’s voices were heard clearly and that we have a strong sense of direction.”
For Ly, this is the perfect balance. “There’s so much to do here and so many things to try, it just takes some balancing,” she says. “I feel like everyone comes into their own at Vassar. You really realize what your priorities are and what you feel passionate about.”