From last month's featured player, Elvi Figueroa: "I recommended [Cathy] because she's very strong and determined. She's made more key tackles than I can count and is always there for her teammates. She doesn't hesitate when it comes to offense or defense. Plus she's a very positive and happy person on and off the field!"
Full Name (plus any rugby nickname(s)): Cathy Cai
Hometown: San Francisco
Position(s) played: flanker, inside center
All Blues since: 2016
AB: How did you find out about us (i.e. what/who got you to come to your first AB practice?)
CC: I played for Cal Women’s Rugby, so naturally I heard of the Berkeley All Blues. They are sister teams, right?
AB: When and how did you first start playing rugby? What got you into it?
CC: I started playing rugby my senior year of college. During my freshman year, a floor mate tried to recruit me to play for Cal. I had a lot of misconceptions about the sport and culture. I was hesitant to join, but playing rugby was something that constantly stayed at the back on my mind. Finally, I gave it a shot my senior year of college and haven’t looked back. It was helpful to find a friend that agreed to go to the first practice with me.
AB: Do you have a philosophy/mindset when you practice and play rugby? How do you get into “the zone”?
CC: My mindset when I go to practice is to have fun. I understand there are times when I need to focus and listen to my coaches/teammates, but for the most part I try to laugh as much as possible. We have some of the best coaches so I have the privilege of learning a lot about the game of rugby while also playing with some of the most athletic and amazing teammates.
I don’t really get into the “zone” for rugby. If I think too much before games, I become nervous and get tunnel vision. Something that helps me prepare for rugby games is to stay relaxed and nonchalant. I occasionally will listen to indie folk before games to keep my nerves down.
AB: What is your best memory, thus far, as an All Blue? What do you like most about being on this team?
CC: Sevens nationals last year was my favorite weekend with the team. We played as a team and held our own. I also loved celebrating at the end of the tournament because I was able to see some crazy sides to my teammates. I love the social aspect of the team most. We go onto the pitch and get what we need to get done, done. But the best part is coming together after a tournament to socialize and celebrate.
AB: Is there a particular player and/or coach that have influenced your development as a player? In what way(s) did they help you?
CC: Evan Hoese [edit: current All Blue; 2017 spring season coach] has really helped me improve my knowledge of the game. She does an excellent job translating her knowledge to less experienced players. Every time I have a question, she clearly and concisely answers it.
Something that was particularly constructive was to have a one-on-one conversation right after our games. The game was still fresh on our minds and it was extremely helpful to ask any questions that may have arisen, answered.
AB: What is the best advice you have ever received about playing rugby?
CC: If you start conditioning during the season, you are already too late. Staying in mental and physical shape starts before the season begins. This is something that I struggle with because everyone on my team knows I hate to condition. I have learned that finding friends to do conditioning with is the best way to stay motivated.
AB: Who’s your favorite rugby player/team to watch?
CC: I wouldn’t say I particularly have a favorite rugby team. I love watching Women 7’s rugby in general. I am excited anytime this sport gets any exposure. However, if you were twisting my arm and said I had to choose a team, I would have to choose the Black Ferns. They play some of the most dynamic and consistent rugby.
AB: What is your favorite non-rugby activity?
CC: I don’t have a lot of opportunity to do this but I love to travel. One country I hope to travel to in the future is New Zealand. It’s a beautiful country with a strong rugby culture.
AB: Did you use to play any sports previously?
CC: In the past, sports that I have competed in are basketball, volleyball, track and field, and Olympic weightlifting.
AB: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
CC: Besides rugby, I am passionate about address health disparities in minority populations. I am fortunate enough to work at UCSF on cancer disparity research that focuses on closing the disparity gap in communities with low socioeconomic status.