28 March 2017: Yale-NUS students in NUS varsity sports teams share their experiences

By Yasunari Watanabe | Images provided by Rachel Ong, Chua Wan Ping and Guo Hui Ping

Home to 12 sports teams, Yale-NUS College encourages an active athletic culture among students. The College’s teams participate annually in the Inter-Faculty Games and Inter-College Games, which are both tournaments within the NUS community. However, Yale-NUS students also have the option of joining varsity teams in the neighbouring National University of Singapore (NUS).

NUS varsity teams compete with other tertiary institutions. Players for NUS participate in the annual Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic (IVP) Games, held at various polytechnics, universities and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).

Rachel (bottom row, 2nd from right) and her tchoukball team

Rachel Ong (Class of 2017) joined the NUS women’s tchoukball team last semester. She trained with the mixed-gender Yale-NUS team for the last few years and served as co-captain for two semesters.

“I had a couple of friends from external tchoukball circuits who play for NUS,” said Rachel, who decided to join the NUS team to develop her skills further. Last December, her team began preparing for the inaugural Collegiate Tchoukball Cup in January 2017 where they played against teams from other universities, polytechnics and junior colleges. Eventually, the NUS women’s team emerged as runners-up in the tournament.

During this period, Rachel played for both Yale-NUS and NUS and dedicated five days of training a week. Each day, she would train for at least four hours. “Despite my busy schedule, I enjoyed the training very much. If you can manage your time well, it can be fun,” said Rachel.

Wanting to pay it forward, Rachel shared her knowledge with her Yale-NUS teammates from her time with the NUS team. “I know how to approach the games better. I find that I have gained more insights into the game because of the experience I had when training with the NUS team,” she said.

She plans to continue playing tchoukball after graduating this year. “I might join a club to play recreationally,” she said. “I love the sport so much!”

Rock climbing is another sport that both institutions offer. When Yukai Ang (Class of 2017) entered Yale-NUS as a freshman, the school did not have a rock climbing team. As an avid competitive rock climber, Yukai joined the NUS team to be among a group of experienced climbers to increase his proficiency in the sport. Yukai also helped to organise Boulderactive, a NUS-hosted rock climbing competition with over 700 participants each year.

In Yukai’s second year, he co-founded the Yale-NUS rock climbing team that focused on the non-competitive and social side of rock climbing. Having trained for competitions on the NUS team for the past few years, Yukai has been spending more time with the Yale-NUS team this semester.

Yukai joined the rock climbing team at Yale University during his semester abroad there. He found that the Yale team was similar in their focus on social climbing. “It was quite refreshing when I joined them for the whole semester, because I had been competing all my life, and now I can just climb for fun,” he said. Now, Yukai is bringing back what he learned when he trains with the Yale-NUS team.

Students can also pursue sports not offered at Yale-NUS.

Randy Yeo (Class of 2017) joined the NUS Canoe Polo team in his freshman year as the sport was not present in the College. “I have been playing since high school so it was a natural transition,” said Randy. The team won the IVP in Randy’s first and third years. On top of individual physical conditioning, the team heads to Pandan Reservoir on weekends to train.

Wan Ping (third from left) together with her cross country team

Chua Wan Ping (Class of 2017) joined the cross country team at NUS. Elected as the captain of the women’s team in her second year, she guided her teammates to second place at the IVP. “It was a close fight with Nanyang Technological University. We eventually won the gold the following year,” she said.

She cites her teammates as an integral part of her experience. “To be honest, daily cross country training isn’t too interesting because we basically just run a lot! But what makes it special is that you really grow close to your teammates in the process,” said Wan Ping.