Lizzie Abbott

– What high school did you go to? Paly (Palo Alto HS). I graduated in 2008 (does that make me old?!)

– How long did you play on Stanford’s club team? I think 7 or 8 years 

-Did you play water polo in college? If so was it hard to manage school, sport, and social life? I did! Ted Minnis (who taught me how to play at Stanford) coached me my last two years there as well. It was tricky to manage everything – my first year was really hard, especially with a pulled rotator cuff, but nearly everyone on the team has been in your position before with respect to learning how to manage school and social life so you have a fantastic support network/motivation network/focus network to help you stay on track. Also, at Harvard, academics were everyone’s number one priority, so it was totally acceptable to put water polo on a bit of a backseat when you really needed it. My team was fantastic too so whenever we had time off we incorporated our other non-wp friends and all went out together, etc. I also loved my major so that was another awesome social group for me and helped me really keep a good balance between my classes (which I loved) and water polo. SO bottom line, I guess it was hard, big adjustment, but it was also life and you adapted to it with some help from your friends (both in and out of water polo), family, coaches, and profs.

-Do you still talk to your team mates from Stanford? A few! Not very consistently now that I live in a place where I don’t see any of them regularly or run into them randomly. My best friend in high school also played at Stanford with me (her name is Amanda Wong) and we still keep in pretty good touch.

-What was your favorite memory of the club? Absolutely JOs when we got to travel for them and stay in hotels together… gossiping and eating and playing games, haha. One of my favorite memories is from my up year in 16s where we had a team cd and played it over and over and over again. I remember Teddy singing to the same two songs (that one song from Mulan that everyone knows and to which we developed some really excellent hand motions and “Ooh Ahh” by Grits) before ALL of our games that summer. Maybe it was a good luck thing – we took 3rd!

-What was your favorite thing to do between games with your team? Haha, good question… definitely napping and finding good snacks/food. Also we loved the trashy tv shows (mtv stuff, like ‘say yes to the dress’) that we could watch in the hotels, haha. 

-Who were your coaches? Did you have Susan, Kyle, Matt? Not sure who’s still around the club…. I’m sure Kyle must’ve coached me at some point. Susan coached me the two summers I played after I started college. Ted Minnis taught me how to play and coached me a few times in hs (and then again for my last two years at uni). Theo Ludwick (who was also my high school coach for a year). Travis Wyckoff. Keith. I’m sure I’m forgetting more 🙁

– What is the funniest thing you can remember happening while you were on the team?  HA. Wow. I think I was in 16s and I was brought up to an 18s tournament at Soda Center for whatever reason (I think they were low on people for some reason) and I got subbed in. As I went to jump into the pool my foot got caught on the handle of the ball bag and totally bit it into the pool with the ball bag and all balls and probably the leftover caps too. I think in that same tournament one of my teammates was taking a 5m, missed the goal completely and totally nailed some girl right in the salad she was eating (what idiot sits right behind the goal when there’s no net?! but it was hilarious). I’m sure there are plenty of other things too… Good times!

– Do you have any hobbies? I know how to fly small airplanes (single engine cessna aircraft), but I’m a bit out of practice these days. I still swim and I love to go hiking. I’ve just recently moved so I’m trying to find some new hobbies since I’m in a totally new country (including joining a Spanish speakers group, scoping out local social volleyball teams and dance classes because why not learn?!, and applying to be a volunteer swim/water polo instructor).

In college I was really involved in my major (Earth and Planetary Science) which had a club called the Geo Society, and the Aviation Club. Definitely nerdy on both accounts, but so fun.

-What advice, if any did Stanford give you that you could take with you and apply to life? How awesome it is to be part of a team. That sometimes to make the most impact, you don’t have to be the best. And also you are what you make of your opportunities. The importance of finding your role – and knowing that that role changes depending on who you’re playing with and against. Stanford University has suuuuch nice pools – we were so spoiled to get to use those!

-Are there any life milestones you would like to share? Oh, I dunno… the usual ones? I graduated undergrad in 2012 from Harvard. I got my MS degree in seismology from Miami University in Ohio in 2014 (total accident, but that’s a longer story). And back in March (2015) I moved to Wellington, New Zealand to work for GNS Science as a seismic hazard specialist. GNS is basically New Zealand’s USGS (so their national geologic survey), and my job basically means I do site-specific seismic hazard analysis for third parties – usually engineering and construction –  so that they can design their structures (buildings, bridges, dams) appropriately to comply with national earthquake codes.

-Do you have any funny stories to tell that happened while you were on Stanford or playing in college?

The summer after my first year at uni I played for Stanford again and we were celebrating or something (maybe?) and someone threw their cap in the air and it landed on the roof. I was nominated as smallest and had to stand on Mel Seidemann’s shoulders to get it down.

One summer in the high school years we traveled for something (bus trip maybe?) and my best friend from hs polo (Amanda Wong) and I were in the same van and (as we did during swimming and wp in high school) sang the entire time – we probably drove everyone nuts (we did this with our hs water polo and swim teams as well), but a lot of times they sang with us, so I dunno.

In college, there were many as well – the old coach before Ted came once asked me when me and some teammates came to swim in the off season what song got me most motivated to get in the pool – I told him and a few minutes later when I was still sitting on the edge he came up and starting singing it and shoved me in the pool. Possibly the most hilarious and also terrifying and creepy moment. Lots of ridiculous stories about him (again, this was the coach BEFORE Ted).

Once at weights they decided we should do soccer drills on the ground with ladders… awful. Least coordinated team ever (who’s surprised?).

For some reason our locker room was built with like a foot or two of space between the wall separating us from the rest of the locker room and the ceiling. A bird managed to get in one day (poor thing) and some old lady decided to start crushing up saltines and started throwing them in on us over the wall as we were hanging out in there before practice. We were like “hey, what are you doing! Please stop!” and she responded that she was trying to feed the bird and kept right on chucking crushed up crackers in there.

So many good stories and probably a lot more I could tell you but I won’t unless you want to know or feel like these are terrible… also a lot of less PC ones. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t have traded my time on the team at Harvard for anything, or my time at Stanford. 

-After college if you’r out of college did you move back home or did you move away? Moved home for about 6 months and worked as an environmental consultant, then moved to Ohio for about a year to work as a research assistant for a professor I’d interned with the prior summer, then moved back home for about a year where I did a few internships and ultimately took a job in marketing in SF. Then I took my present job and moved to Wellington this past March.

– Will you be at the reunion June 26-27? No 🙁 I wish I could be there to meet you! Actually, would love to learn a bit more about you anyway since you’re the one who’s (being forced to?) learn about me!