Student by Day, Soccer Extraordinaire by Night
Written by Aleena Khan
How’s that one song by The Rock go? “It’s about drive, it’s about power, we stay hungry, we devour.” Well, I couldn’t think of a better song to describe SU athletes. This past week I interviewed Kali Esquivel. She is a first-year, a biology and psychology double major and a student mentor at the Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Center. Oh, and on top of that she also plays on the Southwestern Women’s Soccer Team as goalie. Talk about “drive and power” (sorry not sorry). But bad puns aside, I wanted to get to know what it was like to be a student athlete here at Southwestern. I sat down with Kali to talk about her work in the JEDI Center and get the tea on being a student athlete. Let’s roll the highlight reel from our conversation.
What led you to play soccer at SU?
I started playing soccer for the first time in third grade, so I was like nine years old. I love soccer, it’s always been a part of my life ever since I was nine years old. It’s always just been my favorite thing to do. I’d get out of school and I wanted to go to soccer practice, I wanted to be there all the time. So I wanted to keep that constant in my life when I came to college.
How do you balance academics with soccer and your social life?
Mmm, it’s actually really hard, (laughs) especially [because] I have a lot of friends who maybe aren’t STEM majors and they go out a lot […] they’ll go out for coffee, or a sit down dinner. I gotta be like, “I can’t tonight guys,” and it’s kinda trash. But it’s all about discipline and my biggest thing is motivation. [Motivation] isn’t even real, it’s more about discipline and you have to force yourself to do the things you have to do.
What are some common misconceptions about SU student athletes?
I think that a lot of people think that we’re all the same [and] fail to see that there really [are] individual people everywhere. Sometimes [non-student athletes] kind of get lost in that. Saying “oh ya that guy is on the football team, or that girl plays soccer,” it’s like there’s so much more. And I think that’s an important part of who you are too.
Do you think that there is a disconnect between the student population and student athletes?
Ya, I would definitely say so. I mean there always is a disconnect between students who aren’t athletes and students who are athletes. But I would say definitely here, a little bit more so. Especially because we are a small school. So I would say that it’s easier to divide. Because you see your fellow athletes everywhere, you see them when you go to the weight room, when you go to the locker room, you see them cause the fields are right next to each other. But we don’t see regular students as often. We don’t get to interact with them as often.
What is your go to hype song?
(Laughs) I don’t really have one to be honest. I just kinda (pauses) it’s like my mood. Sometimes, depending on my emotions that day, if I’m feeling excited I’ll play a hype rap song. Usually, “In Paris” by Jay Z, it’s my go to. I did powerlifting in high school and you get three lifts, and your third lift for each group is your biggest lift. So I would always be in there bumping that song and just getting ready to go lift some heavy weights, it was fun. But then sometimes I just wanna calm down so I will listen to some Indie music to kind of clear my head. It just depends on the day.
How do you think being a student athlete can bring a new perspective in the JEDI Center?
I think, right now in the JEDI center our main focus and big picture is about the retention of student athletes and especially minority athletes. So being able to work here and being a student athlete, a minority student athlete, it helps me see both sides of what’s going on. Some things that as an athlete I really wouldn’t realize until I came and started working here. But then also some things that we discuss at work, I go to practice and go mmm it’s not the same, you know what I mean? So it’s really nice to provide an inside to both sides and I think it helps me to put a full coherent perspective to the project.
What’s something you personally didn’t expect or anticipate when you became an athlete at SU?
Honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to be so rigorous. You think of big D1 schools and those are definitely rigorous, but you think about smaller D3 schools and a lot of times people are like, “mmm it’s D3, it’s whatever. But we’re really busy (laughs). We’re just as busy, we have just as many practice hours. We have the same set of rules for practice hours. It puts a lot of stress on us and I wasn’t necessarily expecting so much stress or for there to be such a competitive environment. But it was exciting to walk into that [environment], it’s something that I thrive in.
How do you stay motivated with the busy schedules, school and all of the life stuff?
I just always keep in mind my goal and also where I came from. My parents worked really really hard to provide for me, for me to even be here and everything. I also worked really hard to get here myself: training for soccer and making sure I maintained good grades. So I always think about that. I’ve already put in so much work, there’s no reason to stop now. And I wanna achieve high goals, so to get there, I have to continue putting in the work. Sometimes on the days when I’m not feeling motivated, like I said earlier, I remind myself that I have to stay disciplined.
During this interview, I learned a lot about our student athletes. I resonated with what Kali said about humility, dedication and work ethic. Training, keeping up with school work, and adjusting to college is no easy feat. But focusing on your goals can keep you grounded, and I feel Kali is a great example of someone who is implementing that mindset. Kali (like many student athletes) leads a double life. Like some sort of superhero: Kali Esquivel, STEM student by day, soccer extraordinaire by night. As Kali mentioned, it can be a lot. A huge component of college is finding balance. Each student has to find their own unique balance and schedule.
While soccer season has come to an end, there are still plenty of opportunities to support your fellow students! To stay up to date on all things women’s soccer, be sure to follow @supirtaeswsoc on Instagram. Also be sure to visit the JEDI Center (McCombs 334) for anything and everything, we are here for you! Thank you again to Kali and our videographer Bre Trevino.