For fourth-year University of Waterloo mechanical engineering student Varun Kuo, playing baseball is what teamwork is all about.
“I like baseball because it’s a team sport. Baseball to me has a lot of thinking in between pitches to understand what to anticipate in any situation and from a team standpoint, there is nothing more fun than having a group of some of your best friends working towards the same goal,” Kuo explained.
Born and raised in Mississauga, Ont., Kuo started playing tee-ball as a five-year-old, continuing on with competitive baseball for both the Mississauga North and the Ontario Blue Jays at the age of eight.
Kuo plays Shortstop, the position that’s right in between second and third base.
Kuo said he became interested in baseball by accident.
When he was four years old, he was playing with the local Timbits soccer club but he said he didn’t enjoy it at all. Then one day, his parents happened to leave the TV on the sports channel when the Blue Jays were playing. Kuo said he was fascinated by the way a ball moving at 95 mph could be hit by this round baseball bat, and from that point on, he just couldn’t get enough of baseball.
“The next few months were full of me watching baseball games on TV while my parents frantically looked up all the rules to try and explain what was going on to me,” Kuo recalled.
When he’s in Waterloo, Kuo attends practices at UW’s Columbia Icefield (CIF) baseball diamond every day of the week except for Mondays. His team usually plays four games on weekends — two on each day.
Currently on a co-op work term in Mississauga, Kuo does his best to come out to some of the practices in Waterloo but sometimes opts to work out at the gym or play catch with his dad at the local parks instead.
During a school term, Kuo said he would typically get all his work done during the week leaving his weekends free to play baseball.
“With online school it’s so much easier to work ahead or catch up at any time that’s convenient for me. I work super hard on weekdays, not going out or socializing much. I rely a lot on my friends in class to help keep me on track and get assignments done,” Kuo explained.
In terms of physical training, Kuo said that mobility in the hips was very important.
“I make sure before every training session, practice or game that I am doing my hip and shoulder exercises because it’ll help me perform at my best and really help prevent injury,” Kuo said.
Kuo also mentioned that an important part of his training is getting enough sleep.
“Sleep is what allows me to train at the level I need to train at and lets my body recover afterwards. I try to avoid doing any work past 10 p.m. to make sure I get a good night’s sleep. Obviously I can’t always stick to this with assignment due dates but I try my best,” Kuo said.
Kuo also said he enjoys playing a variety of other sports, including golf.
“I love baseball, yes. But I also really enjoy playing other sports because it doesn’t necessarily have the same level of competitiveness that baseball has,” Kuo said.