My Game: Kristin Quah / From Commodore Nation magazine
By Rod Williamson
Kristin Quah is bowling’s first international student-athlete, a freshman from Singapore. She was named NCAA National Rookie of the Year and earned second-team All-America honors. She posted a perfect 4.0 during her first semester.
Commodore Nation: Describe your drive to excel.
Kristin Quah: No matter what I do – whether it’s bowling or studies – I really just want to put forth my best. I want to do my best in everything that I do. If I have my name on it, I want quality attached to it.
Commodore Nation: Where does your drive come from?
KQ: I guess it is competitiveness. I’ve always been a competitive person. I don’t like losing at all. When I taste some sort of failure, in my mind I know I don’t ever want to feel that way again. So I’m going to make sure that I put in as much effort as I can so that I will succeed in the future.
Commodore Nation: You’re from Singapore, how hard was it to move halfway across the world to attend college?
KQ: Oddly enough it was not that difficult of a decision to make. It’s been in my mind since I was 13 or 14. I always said, “I want to go to the U.S. and study and bowl.” I wanted to find means to study here without paying an extraordinary amount, so I had to find some sort of scholarship. It was my dream as a kid. So when I found this opportunity at Vanderbilt, that had both excellence in academics and bowling, it really was not that tough of a choice to make.
Commodore Nation: What were the biggest adjustments you faced when coming to Nashville?
KQ: Definitely the weather. I’m used to ninety-degree weather and humidity close to one hundred percent all the time. Winter here was rough.
Commodore Nation: Let’s talk about food. What foods have you discovered here in Nashville that you might not have found at home and what are some foods that you miss?
KQ: Let’s start with what I miss because there’s a lot. I miss broths – like soup-based food. Stuff like noodle soup. The closest thing here to that is chicken noodle soup, but that’s not even close. It was weird because I lost a lot of weight over first semester, maybe five pounds. This semester when I came back, I brought food from home to cook. So I’ve been cooking a lot this semester. Every other weekend I’m cooking. It’s been a lot better. I’ve been adjusting a lot better to that.
Commodore Nation: Have you found any food you like that you didn’t know you did?
KQ: It sounds weird, but bread. We pretty much get plain bread in a packet back home. But like when we go to restaurants, the bread here is a lot better. That’s something that I’m surprised I like.
Commodore Nation: What has surprised you the most about Vanderbilt life, and what might have you correctly predicted?
KQ: When I was about to come here, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into. I didn’t even know the format of how we were going to be bowling. I came in with a really open mind, deciding to take everything in stride. I take one step at a time and get myself acclimated to everything here.
Commodore Nation: What do you like to do in your spare time?
KQ: It sounds like a very Asian stereotype, but I enjoy folding straws – I wouldn’t call it origami because it’s not with paper – but it’s something that I picked up. When I’m stressed I like to do things with my hands. And so I just started folding them and it’s now become a habit whenever I’m bored or stressed out. It’s just become my thing.
Commodore Nation: Let’s talk about bowling. How did you get interested in bowling to begin with?
KQ: When I was younger, my parents made me try a new sport every year. Like I said, I’m a very competitive person. My brother got into bowling, and he started doing better than I was. I was like, “No I’m going to beat him, I want to do better than him.” I started taking lessons and that was the end of it. I quit every other sport because I loved it.
Commodore Nation: You were on the Singapore national team. Are you still on it?
KQ: I was on it for five years. I left it right before I got here because I wanted to commit to this opportunity that was given to me and put my full attention here rather than having it split between here and home.
Commodore Nation: Was college bowling an adjustment from what you were used to?
KQ: Definitely. Let’s start with the obvious, the Baker system. I had never bowled that before I came here. And then there’s the emphasis on the team versus an individual. Most of the events I bowled back home were more of an individual event. So if I made a mistake, it was “I’ll clean up my own mess.” Now it’s weird because you don’t have much control of what’s going on. You have to have full trust in what your teammates are doing. That was a really tough adjustment when I first got here. Whenever I made a mistake, I’d be letting the team down. I really beat myself up for those mistakes. I worked that out with the coaches and my teammates, and now I have to accept that everyone makes mistakes.
Commodore Nation: Have you been here long enough where some of your teammates feel like your best friends?
KQ: Yeah, I do. I’ve made some really unexpected friends. When I first came on my visit, Giselle (Poss) was one that scared me. Now she’s probably one of my closest friends on the team. And of course there’s Jordan (Newham), who’s in the same class that I am, and we spend so much time together and get along so well.