After playing four years of volleyball for the Vandals, Janelle Chow decided to keep her athletic career alive by walking onto the Idaho women’s basketball team. For Chow, it’s just another part of an active lifestyle.
Chow was second in the WAC in digs during her senior season and helped the Vandals reach the conference championship match, where they lost to New Mexico State. Chow was a multisport athlete at Mercer Island High School in Washington and was part of a basketball team that won the 2009 KingCo Championship. When her collegiate volleyball career came to a close she decided to put her basketball experience to use and spoke with Idaho coach Jon Newlee about joining the team.
“I talked to him this summer because I knew I didn’t want to stop after volleyball,” Chow said. “I talked to the coach then and he said it was a possibility and then I talked to him after volleyball and I started practicing and just eased my way into it.”
Newlee said he had seen Chow play volleyball and liked what he had seen, but also heard the rumors of her basketball ability. When Chow approached him about joining the team he was more than willing to listen.
“I like her energy,” Newlee said. “I liked her enthusiasm out there on the volleyball floor and I heard all the rumors about how good she was in intramural leagues. Our players had seen her play and thought she’d be a good addition.”
Chow also had the support of members of the basketball team, including her roommate and preseason All-WAC first teamer Alyssa Charlston.
“I found out in October that she was interested and she’d been talking about it, even last year, and so honestly, she’s an athlete, she’s enthusiastic,” Charlston said. “We’d had practice players before, but I thought Jon could use her as a player.”
Being a student athlete is time consuming and most athletes get a break during their respective off season, but Chow gave up that break, preferring to be in season. She said she’s never sure what to do with her time when she’s not playing sports and it makes it easier for her to do school work.
“It’s actually easier for me in season because it makes me manage my time instead of having all this free time,” Chow said. “I just schedule it all out and make sure I have time for homework.”
For Chow, staying active has always been a part of her life. From high school to college she’s always been doing something athletic, which is why she’s majoring in exercise science, so she can keep active when her athletic career ends. Her active lifestyle has even become well known among her friends at UI.
“I take a picture of her almost every time I see her napping,” Charlston said. “The girl is almost never home. She’s always at the rec. She’s always active and always doing something.”
Chow admits that she has between 30 and 40 intermural shirts at home from all the teams she has played on.
There is a possibility that Chow’s collegiate athletic career may continue through the spring semester, when she plans on joining the tennis team. Chow said tennis coach Jeff Beaman saw her hitting and due to injuries on the women’s team, he asked her if she’d be interested in competing. Chow said she’s working with the team now and there’s a strong possibility she could compete by the season’s end.
“Right now I’m hitting twice a week with Andrew Dobbs, the assistant coach, so he’s helping me a lot,” Chow said.
Right now her concentration is on basketball, which has started to play off as she’s started to make appearances in games. Newlee said she’s a great addition to the team and pushes the rest of the players in practice.
“From day one she came in and played as hard as she could all the time with a smile on her face,” Newlee said. “She’s a great teammate and I have no complaints.”
In the end, Chow said she loves being a college athlete and doesn’t want it to end. There’s always the possibility for her to return to the basketball team next year, but she’ll have to wait until the season is over to know for sure.
“I just love it so much,” Chow said. “I love being a Vandal athlete. I love the equipment, the people and now being on the basketball team it’s like I have more best friends.”
Kevin Bingaman can be reached at email@example.com