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Day in the Life: Athlete at Aquinas College

Aseel Jadallah Year in School: Freshman Major: Education Years Playing Rugby: 5 Position in Rugby: Utility Forward

Why did you choose your school? I chose Aquinas because one of my select-side state high school summer rugby team Coaches, Coach Jamie, found this school for me knowing Aquinas has an excellent Education-major program and upcoming rugby team. As a future math teacher, I value my academics and found Aquinas the perfect balance between academics and athletics.

What was your process of being recruited? During my senior year, I kept trying to find a school where I could continue my academic and athletic career, but as the year went on, I lost motivation as rugby isn’t a popular sport, and I couldn't believe anyone would recruit me at such short notice. Then I met Coach Jamie, who has great knowledge of rugby and is well-known in the rugby community. Coach Jamie mentioned some schools, and I decided to check out Aquinas since it was close to home (Illinois). I reached out to Coach Laura, and she got back to me the same week wanting to schedule a phone call and bring me in for an on-campus tour to make sure Aquinas was best fitted for me and if we were all on the same page as I reached out very late (Late June/Early July). Given a few days after the tour, I committed and signed my letter of intent.

What are your favorite parts about being a member of the rugby program? My favorite part about being a rugby program member is that we’re a first-year program. Whether having played rugby before or not, everyone on this team (including the coaches), is new. We are all shaping this team on and even more off the field. In practice, during on-campus fundraisers, in-class relationships with professors/classmates/grades/attendance, community service, supporting other teams in the stands or sidelines, and most importantly, towards each other and our future Aquinas women's rugby saints. We know our values and do our best to uplift them because it’s in our hands. We get to decide who we want to be and what level we want to bring our program to.

What are your favorite parts about being a student at your school? My favorite part of being a student at my school is that I love how small my classes are. I love being able to build a closer relationship with my professors compared to a bigger school. I also love how beautiful the campus is. Having everything a walking distance away makes it feel like I’m walking through a beautiful trail before going to class or rugby. One last thing I love is the kindness on campus and being provided with so many accessibility services like our health and wellness center with a massage chair, therapy

sessions, and snacks. How do you balance schoolwork and rugby? I chose to balance my schoolwork and rugby by being very well-time-managed and always having a planner with everything written down. The sooner you understand that there is a time and place for everything, the better. In class, I make sure I put all my focus on what my Professor is teaching me, then as soon as practice starts, I draw all my focus to practice. During class, I don’t worry about practice and vice versa. Outside of class, practice, and games, I make sure to set aside time to study, for family/friends, recover, clean/do laundry, and rest. There is a time and place for everything.

What does a typical day and/or week look like for you? A typical week for me looks like practice four times a week (Mon., Wed., Thurs., Fri.) for about 1.5-2 hours, two lifts a week (Mon. and Thurs.), and then Saturday game/tourney day. What’s the biggest challenge about playing rugby at your school? The biggest challenge about playing rugby at my school is discipline. Like everything, being able to play Rugby is a privilege, and it’s very important not to take it for granted. Appreciate that you’re able to play and discipline yourself while you’re still able to. There is competition all around me, including my teammates and people I don’t play against. Competition will always be out there, so having to discipline myself is a challenge but not impossible; it helps grow my team and me.

Besides rugby, what else are you involved in on campus? Besides rugby, I am involved in TRIO SSS, and Student Support Services. I am going to be a Residential Assistant next year, and around campus, there is always an event going on that I always try to attend with friends. It's just another space Aquinas provides for us to chill, reset ourselves, and have fun. Events like when we have field activities with a mini donut truck or other food trucks, waffle Wednesdays, pick out a stuffed animal and enjoy some insomnia cookies, “Do-nut Stress,” candle-making, make your own gingerbread cookie, mental health awareness month where you can make a mental health goodie bag, easter-egg hunting, finals week at the library where everyone has a huge study sesh with raffles and snacks. Is there anything else you’d like to share with a high school player who is interested in your school? For any high school player interested in my school, don’t be afraid to stop by for a visit; we have a beautiful campus with beautiful people.

School Website: Team Website: Interim Head Coach Kayla Dustin



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