Connecting with a college team’s current players can be a great way to get a feel for a program, so we interviewed UCLA’s Yanick Mendes to learn more about what life is like as a student-athlete at UCLA.
Yanick Mendes, 4th Year Major: Linguistics & Computer Science Primary Rugby Position: Lock/Flanker (15s) and Prop (7s)
Why did you choose your school?
I chose UCLA because it was, and still currently is, one of the top public universities in America. Aside from it being located in my birth town of Los Angeles, it also boasts a top tier rugby program that competes nationally, effectively sealing the deal for me.
What was your process of being recruited?
A number of incoming players attended the camp UCLA hosts for high schoolers, starting contact with the staff early, however I reached out to the head coach, Scott Stewart after I received my acceptance to the school. I sent over basic info like height/weight as well as my playing experience and highlight tape and the rest is history.
What are your favorite parts about being a member of the rugby program?
My favorite part of being a member of the UCLA Rugby program is the community that we share as a team. This does not only hold true for current students, but also alumni and supporters alike!
What are your favorite parts about being a student at your school?
My favorite part about being a student at UCLA is being taught by experts of their field, whether on the field or in the classroom.
How do you balance schoolwork and rugby?
I balance my schoolwork and rugby by having a plan of my next couple weeks ahead and the important deadlines and dates to come. Take care of school work early for a stress free gameday on the weekend.
What does a typical day and/or week look like for you?
A typical day involves me waking up at 6:30 to walk my dog before eating and shower. Then I’m ready for my 10-minute walk to campus. The next couple hours (8am-12/1pm) will be spent in the classroom before I head to work till 5. I head home to walk my dog and change before heading back out to rugby practice at 6. Upon returning, after I’ve showered and eaten, I can work or relax the evening away.
What’s the biggest challenge about playing rugby at your school?
The biggest challenge that comes with playing rugby at UCLA is competing in varsity level athletics without much financial help from the school. Because we are a club sport, our club and our players fund ourselves, along with the help of our donors and supporters.
Besides rugby, what else are you involved in on campus?
Besides being a member of the rugby team, I also am the President of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. Nu Delta Chapter as well as a brand ambassador for Chubbies shorts. I also work part-time as a workstudy in the Chemistry & Biochemistry Dept.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with a high school player who is interested in your school?
Being a member of a university sports team that is top tier in both academics and rugby AND enjoys Southern California weather feels like a dream. If you’re interested, then make your dreams real by working hard, not only in the classroom, but outside, whether on the field, at your job, or at band practice. Last piece of advice: do what makes you happy. [vc_empty_space]
University of California – Los Angeles