Article by Sally Jang
Photograph by Medha Srivastava
As the final IASAS tournament of the year approaches, so do the final days of the high school sporting careers of our senior Bearcat athletes. Today’s Athlete in Focus is senior, superstar athlete, Ayaka S. She has brought us glory in the fields of volleyball, touch rugby, and track ever since her freshman year.
For the past four years on and off the court/field, Ayaka has never run out of enthusiasm. In an interview during her freshman year, she humbly told BT that she “had a lot of upperclassmen to rely on.” Now, as a senior teaching underclassmen, she admits that she is “so jealous that they have a few more years of high school sports”.
Ayaka loves all the sports she plays, for different reasons. In her freshman year she immediately loved volleyball because she initially excelled in this field, and the varsity team provided a perfect opportunity to further fuel her passion and skills. In her junior year, she developed a similar love for touch rugby. She said that the supportive crowd during the home IASAS in her junior year, made this sport special. Finally, as a third season track and field athlete, Ayaka feels that throwing (javelin and discus) has made her mentally strong and pushed her to persevere.
When asked what role sports played in her life, Ayaka answered, “Playing sports is a source of happiness for me. I have made lots of friends through sports and I purely enjoy working with my teammates and learning new things from different coaches.” For this, Ayaka is truly grateful. She also mentioned that playing sports brought her closer to her parents who are sports enthusiasts themselves. Sports run in their blood, so playing for ISM made her into a better person in every aspect, including physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.
Being an athlete has shaped Ayaka’s life in ISM as “hectic, but worthwhile.” Joining sports teams has been by far the best experience of high school for her.
“I remember every IASAS tournament so vividly, because of many bittersweet memories I have made with my teams,” she said.
All the experiences she has encountered have also made her into the tough person she is now. Ayaka shared a quote, that according to her is the key to her success: “Be strict with yourself and lenient towards others.” Ayaka makes changes in her athletics training based on criticism, but is lenient on other’s mistakes, helping her to constantly improve and to be a great team member.
What’s next for Ayaka? She said, “I definitely want to continue sports in college, but it will not be my priority. Touch rugby is one of the sports I would like to continue. Since I know some players in Japan, it will be easy for me to join the team.”
Every career has a beginning and an end; yet, an end is only another beginning of a new chapter. Ayaka is the perfect example of how a dream is reachable if you put your heart into it.