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Day in the Life: Athlete at Stanford University

Name: Leila Wang Gaouette

Year in School: Sophomore

Major: Anthropology

Years Playing Rugby: 2

Position in Rugby: Prop


Why did you choose your school?

Stanford is renowned for its rigorous academics, esteemed faculty, and fascinating research opportunities. The opportunities and resources available to undergraduates at Stanford remain some of the best in the country, regardless of what one aims to study or major in. Because of this rigor, I knew that Stanford would attract other like-minded, hardworking, and curious students. As a high school student navigating the college decision process, I was extremely excited by the chance to learn from my peers. Another plus is the beautiful, sprawling campus and the California weather. Though it can get a little rainy during winter, the fall and spring quarters are normally filled with sunshine. This, combined with plenty of outdoor green spaces on Stanford’s campus, makes for a unique, healthy college experience.


What was your process of being recruited?

Because rugby at Stanford is a club sport, they do not recruit. I had actually swam all 4 years of high school and had not touched a rugby ball before I came to Stanford. I stumbled upon the sport during my freshman fall at the club fair and came to the first practice without experience. The coaching staff and more experienced upperclassmen were eager to create a welcoming space for rookies, making me excited to return to practice the next day. Anyone can (and everyone should) join Stanford club rugby.

What are your favorite parts about being a member of the rugby program?

My favorite part of Stanford Women’s Rugby will always be the people. My teammates and coaches have been and continue to be so supportive, pushing me to be the best player and person I can be. On and off the pitch, they remain a constant source of good energy and advice. Stanford can be difficult to navigate without having someone in your corner, and I am thankful every day that I have a group of thoughtful, kind, and intelligent people I can go to for anything. I feel privileged to have found this community.


What are your favorite parts about being a student at your school?

As I mentioned, Stanford has so many exciting opportunities for undergrads. Some of my favorite memories at this school so far have been attending talks by guest professors and researchers and learning something new! Though I often stop by the Archeology or Anthropology departments, events like this are hosted in every department. I also just love meeting new people. Everyone here is doing something interesting, and I meet someone cool almost every day!

Steuber Family Stadium

How do you balance schoolwork and rugby?

Stanford is very academically demanding, so balancing schoolwork and rugby can be difficult. What helps me most is making to-do lists every day and then budgeting my time around practice accordingly. To do so, I like to go to spaces on campus where I know I will get work done, like a library or a tutoring center. Sometimes, rugby overlaps with school in the sense that teammates end up in the same classes. This can be really helpful for better understanding class content or finding a buddy for a group project.


What does a typical day and/or week look like for you?

My weeks change from quarter to quarter, but when we are in season, I usually wake up at around 8 am to get breakfast in the dining hall before it closes. My morning classes usually start a little late, around 10:30 am, so I try to get some work done in my dorm first. After class, I get a quick lunch with friends and head to my afternoon classes. My classes normally end before 3 pm; this gives me time to grab a quick snack from my dorm and head over to the clubhouse to lift for about an hour. Our coaches make sheets with recommended workouts, making lifting sessions a smooth process. After that, I have practice for about 2 hours. Practices are typically three days a week: Monday and Tuesday from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm and Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30. After practices, we have team dinners, which are great chances to get to know each other better off the field and catch up on our days. Dinner ends at around 8 pm, and I head to the library or my dorm to finish my homework. I get to bed at midnight, excited to do it all again!

Stanford University Campus

What’s the biggest challenge about playing rugby at your school?

The biggest challenge about playing rugby at Stanford (and being a Stanford student in general) is maintaining my mental health. Rugby is a very time-consuming sport, and, though it is very physically taxing, it also takes a lot of mental work to stay present in practices and lifting sessions while being a full-time student with hobbies, jobs, and other extracurriculars. It is easy to get overwhelmed. Luckily, The Stanford rugby coaching staff are very cognizant and understanding of this and are great resources we can go to if we are feeling stressed.


Besides rugby, what else are you involved in on campus?

Outside of rugby, I volunteer as a peer counselor for the Sexual Health Peer Resource Center (SHPRC). There I supply peers with free menstrual products, forms of contraception, and counseling regarding safe sex, healthy relationships, pregnancy, and STI prevention. I am also training to be a peer counselor for the Bridge Peer Counseling Center, which offers free, anonymous counseling to all members of the Stanford community. On bye weeks, I also volunteer at the Stanford farm on Saturdays!


Is there anything else you’d like to share with a high school player who is interested in your school?

If you are interested in playing at Stanford, I encourage you to contact the coaches or student leadership! Everyone would be happy to answer any of your questions.

School Website: Women's Team Website: Head Coach Rich Ashfield:



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