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The Prospector

Underrepresented Sports at Tino

A minority of athletes in the Cupertino High School student body participate in sports that have less official representation through teams or clubs on campus. For these students, navigating their schedules and finding a community can pose a challenge. However, participating in lesser-known sports forms a sense of individuality and the ability to make connections outside of peers at school.


Telin Lee, Table Tennis

Junior Telin Lee, who began playing table tennis in elementary school, was introduced to the sport by his father, and started by practicing with his father and sister at the tables available at his father’s company. Over his career, he continued playing in both local and national tournaments, including the 2019 US Nationals.

“I think the hardest challenge is [how] in table tennis, there’s always a new generation,” Lee said. “There are those little kids who are super insane and improve really fast. So beating them is pretty hard. But it’s fun to watch them get better.”

Lee dedicated his time to both weekly lessons with a coach and daily practice sessions at his home, either playing against his father or a machine that fed him table tennis balls, with different settings designed to mimic realistic scenarios on the court. However, as the school years became more rigorous, he found himself limited in the time he could dedicate to practice. 

Despite his primarily solitary practice environment, Lee found a valuable community among the many table tennis players he met at tournaments or while practicing with other local athletes. 

“Everybody’s trying to get better,” Lee said. “They [community members] will help out — people practice with each other, warm up before playing games. The community is pretty good.” 

Table tennis’s competitive yet supportive community encouraged Lee to both improve his skills and keep the mindset of enjoying the sport rather than comparing oneself to others. 

Said Lee, “If you want to get better, you have to play a lot. And there’s always going to be some little kid that’s better than you, but that’s fine.”


Minseo Park, Figure Skating

For senior Minseo Park, figure skating has helped build a strong and supportive community outside of school, all of whom share the same struggles and passions for the sport. “I’ve met so many amazing people through skating, especially upperclassmen,” Park said. “They’re like the older sisters I never had since we went through so many challenges together. I formed bonds that can’t be replaced by anything else.”

However, figure skating in particular can be extremely isolating as a result of its competitive nature, which is further impactful without a school-sanctioned club or team. 

“Even my best friends at the rink, we see each other as competition, whether it be in terms of medals, podiums or attention from coaches,” Park said. “It’s hard to make amazing friends in such a competitive environment.”

For Park, early mornings are part of that routine, “I would wake up at 5:30 and go to Fremont, which is my main rink,” Park said. “On Thursdays and Fridays, I skate twice a day, so again in the afternoon after school.”

Park reflected on her proudest accomplishment, “I placed fifth in sectionals, there are three sections in the nation, so placed in the top 20 to 30 in the nation, which I was really happy about.”


Ansh Ambatkar, Sailing

Junior Ansh Ambatkar began sailing in third grade, primarily at Shoreline Lake in Mountain View. 

“I began with introductory courses, where I got the hang of it, and met a lot of really cool people through those lessons,” Ambatkar said. Throughout summers through ninth grade, Ambatkar trained consistently and joined the Peninsula Youth Sailing Foundation, where he familiarized himself with new boats.

  Ambatkar reflected on the relevance of sailing, particularly in the Bay Area. “It’s not an activity that’s represented, and it’s honestly just enjoyable,” Ambatkar said. “Specifically garnering interest here is challenging.”

Throughout his career in sailing, Ambatkar describes his proudest accomplishment as mastering a wide variety of boats and vessels. 

“I’ve particularly sailed a lot on small boats called Catalinas, which are slower and more easy to maneuver, so I’ve gotten the hang of those really well,” Ambatkar said. “I’ve also gotten hands-on experience from a specific Olympic-type racing boat called Blazers, as well as more advanced and complicated boats.”

“I’m working on trying to build a community here in the Bay Area for sailors, and gathering interest for sailing in general is pretty difficult here,” Ambatkar said. 

 “Specifically taking advantage of my resources and gaining more and more experience throughout the years is one of my biggest feats,” Ambatkar reflected.

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About the Contributors
Joyce Lee
Joyce Lee, Copy Editor, Video Editor
Miya Widman
Miya Widman, Writer

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