Q & A: Prathik Rao

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Q & A: Prathik Rao

Rana Aghababazadeh

As the end of the college application season draws closer, aspiring athletes look for avenues to pursue their ambitions in collegiate sports. Senior Prathik Rao, who is currently the captain of the varsity volleyball team, is on his way to be a collegiate varsity athlete. Rao discussed his volleyball journey and where he hopes it will take him.

El Estoque: How did you start volleyball and when did you decide to take it more seriously?

PR: I got cut from the volleyball team in 6th grade, then I made the volleyball team in 7th grade, and I’ve been playing ever since. I started with Kennedy Middle School volleyball, then I’ve been playing for Mountain View Volleyball Club my entire life. The summer after 9th grade was when I figured out that I can actually make something out of volleyball. That year, we won a national title, so I figured ‘this is cool’ and also I knew I had a strict coach coming in the next year, so then I thought that I’d have to work extra hard if I want to make something out of this.

EE: Tell us about your college recruitment process.

PR: During sophomore and junior year, I was being actively recruited by a lot of schools for full-admission consideration, particularly Princeton, UCSD, UCSB and Emerson College. They wanted to give me full-ride admission and they were offering me that and this year I had to take a step back and say you know what, ‘I want to get in for my grades, because I don’t want the pressure of having to play to stay in the school.’ So now I’m applying to colleges for my grades, and I’m getting something called assisted admission in certain schools, which is basically saying that you know what, if I promise to play volleyball my first year, then they’ll get me admission to the school. So San Diego’s offered me that. Emerson’s offered me that. The other schools have not, but with due time, I’ll figure it out. That’s my recruitment process.

EE: How do you think that prospective college athletes should approach choosing where they want to play?

PR: It’s a really personal decision and it’s not my place to make that decision for everyone, but in my opinion, especially coming from this area, athletics should not be the primary reason you go to school. School is school. And specifically for volleyball at least, there’s not much of a career after. If you’re waiting for football, basketball or baseball then there’s a shot of having a legitimate career in the U.S. afterwards. Volleyball, not so much.

EE: Would you say people close to you would understand the decision that you’re making?

PR: My volleyball friends for sure understand that’s what I’m going through, especially my coach; my coach was one of the people who actually pushed me in that direction, because he knows that I’m smarter than most of the other guys on the [club] team, and that I have an avenue to get into school besides just sports. But I think my close friends, the people I hang out with on a daily basis, they understand I’m an intellectual person first and I’m an athlete after, and I think that’s reflective of my character and that’s how people see me.