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Athlete of the Week: Kaylee Zhang ’24

4 mins read
Photo Courtesy of Swarthmore Athletics

Kaylee Zhang ’24, a junior from San Jose, California, has been instrumental in Swarthmore volleyball’s current three-game winning streak and strong 5-2 start to the season. Offensively, Zhang leads the team with 85 kills so far and sits at a close third for most kills in the Centennial Conference. On the defensive side, she has the second most digs on the team, recording almost the same number of digs as kills. 

Abby Chang: What are some of the team’s hopes and goals for the season?

Kaylee Zhang: The biggest goal that we have for this season and one that’s always been at the top of our list is to win the Centennial Conference Championship. On top of that, our team motto this year is to enjoy the journey, and we’re hoping to have this reflected on and off the court as we experience and create this process of having a successful season together. 

AC: What has been one of the highlights for the team so far this season?

KZ: Overall, I’d say we’ve had a pretty strong start, but one highlight that stands out would have to be winning the Garnet Invitational tournament. It was great to go undefeated, and to have such a high-energy crowd and support from our families and friends. 

AC: What is your favorite thing to do with the team outside of practice?

KZ: My favorite thing to do with the team outside of practice is getting Sharples dinner after our practices since this is the time when we get to recap our days and catch up. Another fun tradition we have every year during fall break is going to Linvilla Orchards, where we get the chance to pick pumpkins to paint and try their apple cider-flavored items.

AC: Do you have any pre- or post-game rituals?

KZ: Before every game, we always meet up in the classroom at the fieldhouse and listen to music as a team to get the energy up before heading into the gym. If time permits, I’ll typically try and squeeze in a nap, either on the bus or in between games at tournaments. After games, I’ll take some time to stretch and then grab dinner with the team.

AC: Why did you choose Swarthmore?

KZ: The education Swarthmore provides is unbeatable, and I knew I would be academically challenged and pushed outside of my comfort zone here. I had an amazing official visit where every student I interacted with all shared a sense of excitement and passion for what they do. Swat emphasizes having a collaborative work environment, and I knew that I would be provided the necessary resources to help me excel as a student and in the future. 

AC: What is your major and why?

KZ: I’m majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Educational Studies. Neuroscience is such an interdisciplinary subject, and the complexity of the human brain has always been so fascinating to me. Every memory, response, behavior, or emotion is somehow dictated by the neurons in your brain, and it’s incredible how much our brain can do. 

AC: What is your favorite class that you’ve taken at Swarthmore?

KZ: My favorite class is one that I’m taking this semester, and that’s neurobiology. So far, we’ve spent a majority of time covering neuroanatomy. In the lab, we’ve dissected a sheep brain and have visualized different brain structures using a 3D blueprint of a mouse brain.

AC: Favorite Sharples bar?

KZ: Cobb Salad bar!

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