Over half of the Albion College student body participates in one of 23 varsity sports teams on campus. The college places an emphasis on competing at a high level in the NCAA Division III while also excelling each day in the classroom.
The vast number of student-athletes on campus have a multitude of backgrounds, including many unique players that often go unnoticed. Due to COVID-19, recent decisions regarding athletics on the collegiate, conference and national levels have changed the face of sports this spring at Albion College.
In light of that, and in order to truly appreciate all of the student-athletes who make up Albion athletics, The Pleiad’s “Beyond the Spotlight” series features a different athlete and the impact they have had on campus.
Featured in this week’s “Beyond the Spotlight” is tennis player Tselmeg Mendsaikhan, a junior from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Mendsaikhan is a mathematics and finance major. Mendsaikhan is also a member of Delta Tau Delta, the international student unions board and the investment club.
Mendsaikhan has stayed in Mongolia for the 2020-2021 school year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“I’m a math and finance major. It’s really easy for me to lay back and listen to the lecture, and if I have any difficulties, I would just look at the books or other resources that I need to,” said Mendsaikhan.
With the time zone difference of twelve hours, Mendsaikhan has had to face some challenges with online learning.
“The one kinda drawback is the time differences,” said Mendsaikhan. “Fall semester, one of my classes was at 3 a.m.AM in the morning, and sometimes it would go all the way until 5 a.m. AM and I just didn’t have the mental capacity to stay up that late.”
“There wasn’t a lot of freshmen when I joined the team, and kind of going through the years, eventually me becoming the senior person of the team is definitely an eye-opening moment where you kind of have to guide the team toward what kind of culture you guys have,” said Mendsaikhan. “It kind of gives you the chance to change the culture of the team entirely.”
During his time on the team, one of the things that Mendsaikhan has learned is how to understand different people on the team and what they bring to the group.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is definitely coping with a lot of different characters on the team,” said Mendsaikhan. “Basically, when there’s a lot of different people on the team, you have to navigate through all the characters.”
A way Mendsaikhan navigates through all the different characters on the team is using his sense of humor.
“I think my sense of humor is something I add to the team,” said Mendsaikhan. “You know, before I came to the team, a lot of the individuals there were very serious about what they did, and most of the times when someone gets caught up in their seriousness, they kind of lose their resiliency when it comes to playing tennis. And just throwing in a couple of jokes here and there definitely helps lift the team spirit up.”
Mendsaikhan had to keep his own spirits up when he had to completely change his backhand due to dislocating his shoulder.
“Just before I had joined the team, I dislocated my shoulder, and it affected heavily when it comes to my backhand,” said Mendsaikhan. “Previously, I used to have a two-handed backhand, but after dislocating my shoulder, I didn’t have the mobility like I used to. So, the thing that I did was completely change my stroke of my backhand, and ever since then, I’ve just been trying to get it better and better each day.”
Mendsaikhan has been playing with this new backhand for a year and was hoping to show it off in the 2020 season of tennis. However, due to COVID-19, the 2020 season was canceled.
“I was definitely bummed because I was definitely improving and I definitely wanted to show it on the tennis court,” said Mendsaikhan.