In the 245 days she’s been at UCLA, Emily Adams has already constructed a diverse portfolio.
The writer has been published on the CollegeFashionista website, UCLA Club Sports’ website and in Westwind, UCLA’s student literary journal.
The goalkeeper was also featured in a third-place league finish for the women’s club water polo team while garnering second-team honors in the Pacific Coast Division. Sometimes she also dabbles in intramural water polo refereeing.
But even when the bits and pieces from various fields come together, there’s still something missing in the first-year English student’s life.
It’s a feeling that wasn’t so foreign just a year ago in high school – when her hair was wet with chlorinated pool water while she sat in the classroom, when her classes were bookended by practices that amounted to six hours a day.
“Having water polo basically ripped out of my life was definitely an identity crisis,” Adams said.
Granted, the starting goalie has had her fair share of time this year protecting the cage with the Bruin club team – it just wasn’t enough.
“I like being in my other activities with the most sore body ever, because I know I just worked out really, really hard, and then I’m in the classroom doing something I really enjoy,” Adams said. “It’s just a weird, maybe neurotic, behavioral tendency.”
Nor did training with UCLA’s club team feel the same.
“I was used to swimming into the pool wall and having a coach yell at you,” Adams said. “(At UCLA), I didn’t have that fear, which motivates me as an athlete. It’s just a different, warm, friendly environment where everyone comes together because they like water polo.”
It’s also a major reason that Adams decided to transfer to Brown University in the spring semester of 2016 in order to pursue a new life as an NCAA Division I athlete.
“It was like living a double life. I’d be writing my Brown essays in Jimmy’s Cafe with friends that I really enjoyed at UCLA, and they wouldn’t know,” she said. “Because I felt kind of weird. I mean, I’m trying to leave here.”
Adams’ plan was always to join a varsity water polo team, but only at a college that would also satisfy the aspiring writer’s academic needs. A recruitment trip during her high school senior year to the campus in Providence, R.I., solidified Brown as her dream school.
And the interest from the Bears’ water polo team was mutual.
“Having her being able to make an impact in and out of the water was an important part of the (recruiting) process,” said Felix Mercado, Brown’s women’s water polo coach. “She was definitely top three of the goalies we were looking at.”
But the connection fell through when Adams didn’t receive a spot from Brown’s admissions office.
The Orange County native narrowed her academic future between the two schools that she was accepted to as a student but not recruited as an athlete. It was down to the familiar Southern Californian landscape of UCLA or the metropolitan maze of New York University.
“(At NYU), New York is your campus, which is so cool, but I want to be 25 when that’s my campus,” Adams said. “I just want to be a student for four years and just get to write all the time and not worry about my income or my career just yet. So I chose UCLA because it was safer.”
As Adams and her best friend, former Daily Bruin writer and second-year English student Lindsay Kamikawa, were completing a post-workout cooldown at Nékter Juice Bar in Westwood three weeks ago, the word “congratulations” peeked out from an email on Adams’ phone.
“The two of us just screamed and held each other,” Kamikawa said. “It was actually funny. There was a group of firefighters sitting outside Nékter, and in response to our screams, they were like, ‘What’s going on?’”
While transferring to Brown will help Adams satisfy her craving for competition, there’s another side to Adams that relishes the move to the East Coast for a different reason.
It’s the part in Adams that relentlessly quotes the latest “Saturday Night Live” skits despite her friends’ constant reminders that they don’t get the reference.
It’s the part that filled the Adams’ household with the lines, “Bobby Fischer, where is he? I don’t know. I don’t know,” from the Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri skit.
“As a little girl, I would sing that nonstop,” Adams said. “My parents hated me.”
Adams, a fan of comedy, has dreams of eventually becoming a writer for “Saturday Night Live.” Although she has received the opportunity to hone her literary craft at UCLA, she said the element of familiarity in Southern California wasn’t conducive to her growth as a writer.
“I kind of treated this year as a waiting period,” she said. “Next year, I’m gonna go try out for the improv groups. They have a huge comedy presence. Maybe try stand-up. … I want to make myself uncomfortable. Being down here isn’t uncomfortable. I don’t think I’ve grown that much as an individual.”
Adams said she plans to continue pursuing writing opportunities in Providence. The aspiring comedy writer hopes to apply to the school’s humor magazine, The Brown Jug, and take advantage of Brown’s open curriculum to take classes focused on creative writing and screenwriting. At the same time, she’ll be keeping her fingers crossed for a chance at a dream internship with “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
While Adams has already crafted a mini-agenda for her future at Brown, the one thing that is already set in stone starts a week before classes: practice.
When she takes the first plunge into her new life on the East Coast during “hell week,” there’ll be an air of familiarity for the water polo player as she reacclimatizes herself to a rigorous training regime during the team’s weeklong preseason training session.
“The first thing I’ll be doing is getting my ass kicked, which scares the hell out of me,” Adams said. “I mean, I’ll be bogged down with practice, but I think if I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that I can do anything I want, and I need to do anything I want to achieve my dream.”