Under Their Skin Is Diligence

A couple months back, we had a roundtable discussion about what the New University could do to increase readership. What started as a joke, referring to the possibility of creating a swimsuit issue in a college newspaper, later flourished into a well thought-out plan. I directed all of the photoshoots seen throughout the pages of this week’s sports section.

Xiao Dai/Staff Photographer

If you’ll notice, there isn’t a single story besides this one, in the section this week. That’s partly because there are no longer home games to be played at UC Irvine for the rest of the school year, and partly because we wanted to let many of these images speak for themselves.

For your enjoyment, we’ve presented grand, beautiful pictures taken by photographers Xiao Dai and Marlon Castillo. To present each athlete’s physique without some sort of perspective would be shameful, so I’ll attempt to provide some context to the seven brave athletes who were willing to show off their hard work in the form of abdominals, obliques and biceps.

My mission was to exhibit the physique of each athlete featured in this issue. What I learned was that no two athletes were the same.

Xiao Dai/Staff Photographer

Junior track star Charles Jock eats Oreos like they’re endangered and consumes Dr. Pepper like Forrest Gump ­— he eats like a cheating kid at fat camp. I don’t know what’s more impressive: the speed at which he can finish an 800 meter sprint (his personal record is 1:44.67), the rate at which he consumes six-packs of Dr. Peppers, or the astounding six-pack that bulges out of his abdomen with shadows that look like they’re outlined in marker.

Before you call Jock a freak of nature, a naturally born athlete whom you detest, because he has the whole world handed to him on a silver platter — STOP! The guy is a workout machine. He eats that way, because he can. No matter how healthy I eat for a year, I’ll never have a physique like his, and that’s because very few athletes in this world work their tails off quite like Jock does. He typically works out 2.5 hours a day.

Jock, like many other UCI athletes, slides into a blisteringly cold ice bath after many workouts in order to start the recovery process. For the past year, he has obsessed over his .04 second loss to Virginia’s Robbie Andrews, losing the national championship by a quarter of an eyelash. That’s all the inspiration the track nerd needed for the past year. The NCAA Championships will be held June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa. This time around, Jock just might be a national champion.

Xiao Dai/Staff Photographer

Brittany Rowley sat out the 2012 track season due to a reoccurring ankle injury. A pole-vaulter who qualified for CIF all four years at Riverside Poly High School, Rowley is currently a junior drama major at UCI.

Xiao Dai/Staff Photographer

Along with vaulting, Rowley also has a knack for distance running. She’s currently exploring a modeling career and training for half marathons. In her first half marathon this March, Rowley finished in 1:44:06 (13.1 miles at 7:52 pace). Her next half marathon is scheduled for June 4.

A pescatarian, Rowley prefers eggs, avocado and humus. Living in Newport, Rowley does strength training on the beach, runs a few days a week with her longest run being seven miles on Fridays, does core and arms on Tuesdays and Thursdays and takes weekends off. She aspires to compete for the Anteaters once again as a senior next spring, but it all depends on whether she can gain explosion from her oft-injured ankle that provides the power for any pole-vaulter.

Xiao Dai/Staff Photographer

When asked who had the best physique on UCI’s baseball team, junior pitcher Matt Whitehouse pointed towards freshman Ryan Cooper and junior Jeff Stephens. Stephens didn’t care to join in on the photo shoot, but we were fortunate that Cooper, a 19-year-old, was willing to bite the bullet. Mesa Commons is his cafeteria this year, and Cooper routinely eats grilled chicken and turkey sandwiches, along with apples and bananas at Mesa Court’s featured eatery. But from time-to-time, you might catch him eating a Twinkie or two. In the weight room, baseball players aren’t typically supposed to max out when they bench press, because it puts strain on their throwing arms. In high school, though, Cooper maxed out at 275 pounds. Cooper also squats 325 pounds.

Playing time is hard to come by for the freshman, despite being named the Century League Most Valuable Player as a member of local powerhouse Esperanza High School’s baseball team in 2011. Cooper started six games in 2012, hitting .250 at press time.

Will Montgomery is still on cloud nine after winning the 2012 NCAA Men’s Volleyball National Championship a few weeks ago. Montgomery can squat 150 kilos (about 330 pounds), and he power cleans 130 kilos (about 287 pounds). The 22-year-old libero’s voice is straight out of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but despite the “hang loose” façade he portrays, Montgomery isn’t lax about his training and diet.

Xiao Dai/Staff Photographer

Montgomery works out 1.5 hours a day, while eating excessively healthy. He eats eggs, chicken, sausage, gluten free rice, and a smoothie — for breakfast. He eats a pound of carrots a day — yes, a pound, dipping them in peanut butter at times for flavor. For dinner, Montgomery eats salmon and turkey burgers and throws in some broccoli. The volleyball player claims that he’s not the most naturally gifted player on his team, so he resorts to eating healthy and Olympic training to keep up with Division I competition.

Junior libero Kristin Winkler had 573 digs for the women’s volleyball team in 2012; she also digs a healthy diet, but admits that she cheats a little more than Montgomery does.

Xiao Dai/Staff Photographer

Trent Baxter is the self-proclaimed strongest athlete on the men’s water polo team. Weeks away from graduation, Baxter hopes to become a coach in the future. His parents are both swim coaches, but he gravitated towards water polo. Under the water, a great deal of extracurricular activity goes on. Baxter was kneed by one opponent this year, which broke one of his ribs. The strength training that he and his teammates have done for years are meant to counter opponents’ attempts at out-wrestling the Anteaters under the surface.

Xiao Dai/Staff Photographer

At times, Baxter egg beaters with his hands out of the water for 15 straight minutes as a form of training. He and his teammates also have been known to strap on heavy belts to weigh themselves down in the water. Baxter’s work comes in the weight room and in the water and rarely in the form of running. He doesn’t like fast food, but doesn’t consider himself a health freak. Protein is the staple of his diet, crucial to avoiding a wasted workout.

Courtesy of Troy Francesca

Adam Folker is likely the cleanest eater on the men’s basketball team. His gluten-free diet has even inspired teammate John Ryan to shape up during his redshirt season this past year. Folker prefers healthy fats and loads of protein, passing on pasta and breads. In preparation for his senior season, Folker is currently working out 3.5 hours a day.

The Easter Bunny and Santa Claus are real, but I’m sorry to have to admit this — I was Peter the Anteater in this week’s photos. On my way over to Puente, a hall in Mesa Court, after borrowing the costume from the sports marketing department, I saw a guy on a bike ride by as I carried Peter’s head under my armpit. He shook his helmet and said, “I’m not seeing this!” I swore I wasn’t kidnapping the beloved Anteater before continuing on.

Ian Massey/Photography Intern

Let’s just say it got heated. After ten minutes of squirming into the mascot suit, I posed for photos for about twenty minutes. Every once in a while I’d take the mask off, drenched in sweat, displaying a cherry-colored countenance. The suit was atrocious. When I took it off, I was covered in the stink. It was so bad that the freshmen living inside Puente brought me body wash, shampoo and a towel to shower off the Anteater suit remnants from my body. It was a once in a lifetime experience, but I’d pass on another opportunity to embody the Anteater mascot.

Ian Massey/Photography Intern

I give many thanks to photographers Xiao Dai and Marlon Castillo for their dedication to this project, along with Dai and Castillo was Rowley. Brittany not only posed for photos, but she put her modeling background to work and helped us direct Winkler’s photo shoot.

Thank you to the athletic department for trusting us with your athletes and mascot, and to Jock, Cooper, Montgomery, Rowley, Winkler, Baxter and Folker for making yourselves vulnerable in front of a camera.

In life, we’re given one body to do what we please. Some trash theirs, and some maintain it, but the seven athletes featured in this week’s issue own their bodies, put it to a test on a daily basis, and should be proud of the exceptional physiques that they’ve all killed for.