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Sung Won Cho ’15, a varsity squash player, was Athlete of the Week this week.
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Sung Won (Steve) Cho ’15 is a freshman on the MIT Varsity Squash Team. After starting to play squash a couple of months before moving to the United States from South Korea in eighth grade, Steve went on to play for the Division I Groton High School Varsity Squash Team. He has excelled in some of the premiere squash competitions including the Massachusetts Junior Open and the New England Interscholastic Squash Association (NEISA) Individual Championships. Steve will most likely declare Course 7 (Biology) or Course 20 (Biological Engineering) by the end of this semester. The Tech sat down with Steve’s to discuss life as a student-athlete on the MIT Varsity Squash Team.

The Tech: What do you like most about MIT Squash?

Cho: My favorite aspect of playing squash at MIT is the team. The team here isn’t as competitive as the high school team I played on at Groton, a Division I school, but I enjoy playing and practicing with them. They are all funny and dedicated to the game without considering each other as competitors. We have lost more matches than we have won, unfortunately, but that hasn’t fazed anyone on the team and we all work hard every practice. I have really enjoyed playing with all of them this season.

TT: Could you give us some insight into the technical aspects of squash?

SWC: Squash itself is a great sport. It’s a sport that takes into account not only one’s physical abilities, but also one’s focus, mental control, and foresight. My favorite games are those that last long, when my opponent and I are both giving it our all, running around like crazy, panting like dogs, and stretching and diving all over the court. When I win games like that, I feel so refreshed and energetic even after such a long game. It’s also really fast paced, which I like a lot, because I always pride myself on my speed and endurance on court and squash gives me a fabulous chance to test my limits.

Because I take so much advantage of my physical abilities on court, I often find myself lacking the necessary ball control that other players of my level have. There are players on my team who I can beat in games but have much better control than I do. The only reason I can beat players like them who are more skilled than I am is because I run around and keep the game going until my opponents finally get tired and give up the game.

TT: How do you find a balance between classes and sports at MIT?

SWC: As a freshman, I haven’t found it too difficult to balance classes, work, and squash. Squash is a huge time commitment, taking up to 15+ hours a week with games on weekends. During the first term, it didn’t affect me too much since I didn’t work that much with pass no-record and everything, but I have yet to see how that might change as I progress through MIT.

TT: Are there any classes that you find particularly fascinating?

SWC: Of the classes I am taking this term, I must say I enjoy my UROP the most, though technically it’s not really a class. Since IAP, I have been working at the Sabatini Lab at the Whitehead Institute and I have loved the work there. It will turn out to be a large time commitment once squash is over, but I am sure I will love every hour of it. It’s difficult to say the least, and it’s often daunting to work with super expensive equipment and materials, but I learn so much interesting and useful materials from my supervisor.

TT: What are some of the things you enjoy doing when not playing squash or studying for class?

SWC: My favorite hobbies include exercise, reading books, and watching anime. I love working out in the gym and when squash is over, I hope to join one of the kendo, kickboxing, or pistol clubs. I love reading medical mysteries and my favorite authors are Dan Brown and Robin Cook. Finally, I am a huge fan of anime, including One Piece, Bleach, Prince of Tennis, Hajime No Ippo, and more.

TT: What other clubs are you involved in around MIT?

SWC: I used to be in kickboxing club before the squash season started and I hope to return to it when squash is over. I will have to wait to see if my shoulders get better, since they have been bothering me on and off during the season. It will be really fun to kickbox again though.

TT: Describe your general weekly schedule.

SWC: Right now, my daily schedule is basically classes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or so, UROP until a bit before 5 p.m., squash from 5-7 p.m. and then homework/relax/have fun until midnight or so when I go to bed.

TT: What do you aspire to do in the future?

SWC: I have yet to decide what I really want to do with my life. I am split between pursuing a PhD and a career in biological research and pursuing an MD and becoming a neurosurgeon.