Whether it is learning to do laundry or adjusting to the quarter system, transitioning to college life is tough – even for student-athletes.
Daily Bruin Sports spoke with four student-athletes who started at UCLA in the 2017-2018 school year. Coming from near and far, these athletes shared their stories and gave some advice on how they all found different ways to adapt to life as a Bruin.
Chasen Travisano – In-state student-athlete
School was just as important as water polo for Chasen Travisano.
The now-sophomore attacker made 13 starts, scored 26 goals and registered 28 assists last season, while also juggling a business economics major.
“It was definitely hard,” Travisano said. “Just adjusting school-wise with how college classes run and how it’s just based on a few midterms and a final, so you really have to be on top of everything.”
Travisano finished fifth in scoring and third in assists last season, then managed to make the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll during the winter quarter. The attacker is the second-best returning scorer this year after UCLA men’s water polo won the 2017 national title.
Having grown up in Southern California, Travisano said he picked UCLA because of its combination of academics, athletics and location – a luxury that he especially enjoys on game days.
“It is definitely nice to have my family come to every single game,” Travisano said. “But during the offseason, if I had a tough week of school or practice, it was nice to just go home and hang out with family and school friends.”
In the pool, Travisano said the transition from high school to college was more of a mental adjustment rather than a physical adjustment. He said that adapting to the intensity of practicing twice a day and playing 25 games in a season requires a different level of mental strength compared to high school.
“There were a lot more mental aspects that took time to get used to,” Travisano said. “How you train, nutrition and how you take care of your body.”
With 12 true freshmen on this year’s 29-man roster, Travisano said one of his biggest pieces of advice is to ensure school takes the same priority as water polo.
“Just stay on top of it,” Travisano said. “Don’t fall behind in school, because the second you fall behind on one test, it’s something that can affect you in a lot of areas. So you have to be on top of everything, no matter if it’s your sport or school.”
Kayla Owens – Out-of-state student-athlete
For Kayla Owens, the hardest part about the college transition wasn’t the homesickness.
It was the difficulty of balancing life outside of basketball.
The UCLA women’s basketball guard saw action in eight games off the bench last year before suffering a season-ending injury that forced her to redshirt the rest of the season.
Even when sidelined, Owens said that having good time management was what took the most getting used to.
“The hardest thing about the transition from high school to college was probably having to do something literally every second of the day,” Owens said.
From practice to weight training, and meetings to treatment, Owens said it was difficult to take a break from basketball.
“During my first year I mostly hung out with the team,” Owens said. “I didn’t really have many friends outside of (basketball). We play basketball all day, everyday, so for I know for me, sometimes I just don’t want to talk about basketball all the time.”
One month into last season, Owens tore her ACL for the second time in three years – making her college transition as a student-athlete even tougher.
“When I tore it (junior year) in high school, I had already played two years in high school, so it wasn’t as bad,” Owens said. “(The torn ACL this time) just amplified it times two (because I was) a freshman – not being able to show what I can do and having to sit out the first year.”
Owens averaged 3.6 points in 9.1 minutes last season. Playing against San Jose State in November, Owens drained the 3-pointer which put the Bruins over the 125-point mark, breaking the school scoring record set in 1971.
Despite choosing a college far from home, the Houston native said missing her family wasn’t a big adjustment.
“I’m an only child, so it wasn’t like I had any siblings to go back to,” Owens said. “And then my mom would come out here because her job is based in LA, so they fly her out here basically whenever she wants. So when I was playing, she came to many of those games.”
Owens said, because she started to make friends outside of basketball toward the end of last year, the most important thing is to have an extended friend group off the court.
“I would tell (freshmen) to manage their time,” Owens said. “Choose your friends wisely, of course, and try to make friends outside of basketball, because they really help.”
Patty Tavatanakit – International student-athlete
Winning a Freshman of the Year award is an honor for any athlete – let alone one who goes to school across the world from home.
UCLA women’s golf sophomore Patty Tavatanakit – who hails from Bangkok – was named the Women’s Golf Coaches Association and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year last season.
The trip from Thailand to UCLA is over 18 hours, but Tavatanakit said that the variety of people and resources in Los Angeles make up for the distance.
“I don’t want to be moving to another country and get culture shock,” Tavatanakit said. “It’s really diverse here, lots of things to do (and) a lot of opportunities.”
Despite coming from another country, Tavatanakit said the most difficult part of the move was simply becoming a college student.
“It’s a big adjustment,” Tavatanakit said. “I was in a dorm my freshman year and that’s the biggest challenge for me because I have to do my own laundry and live with other people, which I never have.”
But that transition didn’t seem to faze Tavatanakit out on the course.
Apart from being named the top freshman in Division I women’s golf, Tavatanakit was a WGCA first-team All-American and an All-Pac-12 first-team honoree. She also tied the UCLA single-season record for wins and set a new school freshman record when she took home four victories over the year.
Tavatanakit took home wins across the country throughout the season, including at the Pac-12 championships in Seattle and the NCAA regional in San Francisco.
Because the women’s golf season runs from the middle of September through the end of May, Tavatanakit said it was a challenge creating a balance between athletics and academics.
“Golf takes all day so you already used up 70 or 80 percent of your energy out there on the course and then at the end of the day you have to come back and try to study,” Tavatanakit said.
Looking back on her freshman year, Tavatanakit said the most important takeaway was making the most of every moment.
“Give yourself time to figure things out,” Tavatanakit said. “I had a blast freshman year and I feel like it’s the year for you to enjoy life but at the same time stay on track with what you do.”
Ayan Broomfield – Transfer student-athlete
Transferring from a school across the country could be a challenge – but not for Ayan Broomfield.
Originally from Canada, the UCLA women’s tennis senior attended Clemson in South Carolina before transferring to UCLA after her sophomore year.
Broomfield said that knowing UCLA was one of the top public schools in the nation played a large factor in her decision.
“Obviously the academics were unbelievable,” Broomfield said. “I know that there’s a really vast group of alumni as well. I think the connections that UCLA brings and just the history of the school is really what drew me to it.”
Broomfield added that her experience as a student athlete has allowed her to adapt to traveling, making the move from the South to the West nearly seamless.
The change in academics from a semester system to a quarter system, however, was more difficult.
“I remember being in my second or third week and already having to prepare for midterms,” Broomfield said. “So just the initial adjustment was a little bit tough, but there was a lot of help.”
In her sophomore season as a Tiger, Broomfield posted a 19-15 singles record and went 23-7 in doubles.
The momentum continued when she came to UCLA.
Paired with then-junior Gabby Andrews, the duo ended the season ranked No. 46, with a 12-5 overall record and a 5-2 record against ranked opponents. Broomfield also posted a 17-11 singles record on the year, primarily playing at the No. 5 position.
In the 2018 Pac-12 quarterfinals against Oregon – the same team that defeated UCLA in the championships the previous year – it came down to Broomfield on court five.
Broomfield claimed the first singles set 7-5. With the second set knotted at 4-4, Broomfield came out with a 6-4 win, clinching the Bruins’ Pac-12 semifinal berth.
“Knowing that it came down to my court, I really wanted to win for my team and for the program,” Broomfield said. “I think that was probably the most memorable and amazing moment for myself tenniswise.”
As she approaches her final year at UCLA, Broomfield said her advice to a future junior transfer student is to embrace every opportunity – even if it’s not for the full four years.
“Just to make sure they don’t stay in a little bubble,” Broomfield said. “But to kind of grasp out and branch out and really try to learn new things and meet new people.”