Andover resident Chelsea Cho has made a name for herself both in the classroom and on the squad court.

Cho earned All-New England honors in squash, making it all the way to High School Nationals after overcoming serious knee injuries. She is also pursuing a career in medicine.

Here, she talks about juggling sports and academics.

BEST ACCOMPLISHMENT AS A STUDENT: While balancing my responsibilities as a student-athlete, girls varsity squash captain, and day student mentor, I took 12 courses at the AP level or beyond throughout my four years at Phillips Academy. While I plan to pursue medicine in college, I took advanced courses in a variety of subjects including English, US history, economics, Spanish, and philosophy.

FAVORITE SUBJECT: I especially enjoyed a community engagement project that I did in a fall senior elective called “The Neurobiology of Learning, Memory, and Sleep.” After learning about how sleep and the different ways we learn affect our memory, I designed a short course for incoming freshmen to help them acquire effective study skills and guide them through their first terms at Andover.

FAVORITE MOMENT AS ATHLETE: Our first match of 2020 US High School Nationals, when I won a very close match that lasted five sets and almost an hour. It felt amazing to help my team win 4-3 and advance onto the quarterfinals of Division 1.

I remember that match as some of the best squash I’ve played so far in my career, and the experience was even more meaningful after having been out for over a year from two knee injuries and a surgery. Since my recovery, I am also proud to have reached top 12 in the country in the span of nine months.

BEST ADVICE FROM A COACH: At the start of my freshman year season, Coach Elliott told us to write down a list of things we can and cannot control for before, during, and after a match. Since then, I have thought about her advice before every single match and it has helped me develop a strong mental side of the game, whether it is focus, motivation, emotional control, or confidence.

ON BALANCING THE STUDENT AND THE ATHLETE: To find balance between academics and squash, I learned how to manage my time. Whether it was trying to get one subject of homework done or going to the courts for a quick solo session in between classes, I kept a clear view of my goals and tried to do everything I could do reach them.

ADVICE FOR INCOMING FRESHMEN: Always be hungry for your goals. Put in everything you have to get one step closer to them each day, whether that means scheduling extra conferences with a teacher or telling yourself that you will retrieve every single ball during a practice or game—whatever it takes.

COLLEGE PLANS: I will be attending Dartmouth College next year. I chose Dartmouth because I loved how tight knit the women’s squash team is and the Dartmouth community in general, both throughout college and after graduation. I am also very excited to design my 4-year plan and study medicine.

FAVORITE CHARITY/COMMUNITY SERVICE: SquashBusters introduces squash to urban youth to promote health and character and assists them with both academics and the college process. Throughout high school, I have loved getting to know and teach squash to middle and high schoolers in the program.

BEST LESSON LEARNED FROM COMMUNITY SERVICE: I have learned the importance of gratitude. I felt grateful for the opportunity to influence other people’s lives and for the impact the experience had on me. I learned the importance of maintaining a positive mindset even when facing difficulties.

WHAT BEING A LEADER MEANS: To me, being a leader means leading by example. I try to model the behavior and actions on and off the court that I believe represent strong leadership, whether it is acceptance, kindness, commitment, or grit.

IN 10 YEARS I HOPE TO ... Help those going through orthopedic injuries, like my surgeon, Dr. Mininder Kocher, who operated on my knee and made it possible for me to return to squash. I want to help patients physically and mentally and maintain strong relationships with current friends and mentors as well.

REFERENCE: “Chelsea has been remarkably resilient at balancing her extracurricular commitments with her academic responsibilities. Her work ethic made her one of the most highly recruited athletes in her class, a process she ended early last year (Dartmouth). Her teachers comments are all similar — always prepared; very focused; energetic; ability to write with complexity with clarity. ’” — David Fricke, Phillips Academy sports information director.


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