Rookie of the Year: Alexandra Kuan

 

 

For the second year in a row, UPRM has won the “Liga Atletica Universitaria” this past April. With the help of many athletes our university was able to accomplish this milestone. Taking that into account let’s take a look into of last year’s Rookie of the Year, Alexandra Kuan.

Alexandra Kuan is a 21 year old Chemical Engineering student from Toa Baja, she is in her third year as an athlete. Unlike many athletes that start practicing their sport very young, Alexandra started in her second semester of her freshman year. She was just an ‘average joe’ training at the gym when she was discovered by a weight lifter who asked her to practice with the team. She states that like may of her peers, that also started off in the sport when they entered college, she started off in the sport because she wanted to improve herself. This past athletic year they did not win any awards, but Kuan was awarded Most Valuable Player of Weightlifting of this athletic season.

Kuan mentions that she had some expectations for her first year. “I wanted to beat my mark but that wasn’t possible. However, I won some medals which was unexpected.” Unexpected because she was fairly new to the sport, however this is what has motivated her to keep doing better, her motivation stems from the fact that she can become someone in the sport even if she started from zero just a couple of years ago. This motivation is what lead her to be named Rookie of the Year, and she used this to maintain consistent and focus in this season to keep the momentum. This paid off as she was recently named Most Valuable Player.

Although being an athlete is satisfactory it comes with its own sacrifices. Alexandra trains from Monday to Friday and sometimes even Saturdays, for three hours. Reflecting on herself as an athlete, she mentions that her strengths are her initial boost (clean and jerk) and her weakness the strength of her legs. To correct this, Kuan mentions that she’s been doing a lot of exercises to improve this, however, she states that this is a mental sport more than anything. “If you’re not there mentally, you will not do a good job.”

Even though the sacrifices athletes make to represent the university are major, many times they go unnoticed. The UPR is facing impending budget cuts that could seriously hurt the future of the university. Athletes have been affected from these cuts since their economic support has been cut in half. Kuan mentions that this is sad because although many represent for their love to the support, others are also motivated by this economic support. She notes that if this is completely cut, the athletic teams might suffer from a lack of representation from their athletes.

Now, looking into her team, she notes they have been seriously affected sine Hurricane Maria. The team does not have a gym where to practice since the Espada Gym, where they usually practiced, has been closed down since Maria. Ever since then the weightlifting team has to pay to use the Acropolis gym that has given them some sort of space so they can practice, however this is not enough. About the administration, Kuan says they have done little to nothing to help them and this year they barely got a backpack and a sweatshirt to support the team. “All of this affects our training and our performance when we compete,” she states.

Although there are many bittersweet moments, Kuan mentions there is support from the students. She recognizes that this is a different sport from volleyball or basketball, so they don’t get a lot of physical support but online the students are there. She mentions that this is also thanks to pages like Huella Deportiva that promote the team. Kuan also notes that their team weirdly stands out because apparently they have the "prettiest girls". Besides this, Kuan mentions if it wasn't because she was an athlete she probably would’ve never felt the “orgullo colegial.” she mentions, “thanks to this is that I truly know what it is to feel ‘la sangre verde’.”

Like many athletes, Kuan has a ritual before any competition, “I use the same socks, sport bra, and clothes every time before weighing myself.” Although she thinks its strange this ritual comfort her since this event brings her anxiety. This leads her to reflect on the importance this sport has in her life. Kuan notes that this sport has helped become a better team player since after all this is a very mental sport. Since it is about the mental game, is those emotions that have lead her to have the most impactful moments in the sport. She mentions that a first she would get very emotional which would throw her off in the competition and this is what has pushed her to improve. Finally, as to what are her goals in this sport she states that she would love to be in the Pan Americans representing Puerto Rico.