Humans of Hillsdale is an ongoing series spotlighting Hillsdale College student-athletes, spotlighting the people behind the uniforms.
Latest in the series is Charger men's tennis player Gabe Katz
WORDS: Calli Townsend
PHOTO: Brad Monastiere
Gabe Katz — Thoughtful
Class of 2021 | Men's Tennis | South Burlington, Vermont
Tennis has been a part of Gabe's life for over a decade. While growing up in Vermont his dad, who used to play tennis, taught him to play when he was 10 years old.
"He was pretty good," he said. "He used to take me to the court and feed me balls, and then I started finding other kids to play with."
He soon started playing more competitively in various tournaments, which was when he learned he might have a future in the sport. He never let the weight of his goals distract him from the joy of his sport.
"I did pretty well and I realized I might be good at it," he said. "So that was the goal from that point on. I didn't really feel pressure, but it was something to work towards, and it made it more fun to have a goal you're trying to reach."
Even before he learned tennis, however, his mom taught him to play chess. He was only six years old at the time, and pretty soon, he needed some tougher competition.
"I would play with my mom when I was really young and at first she would win, but then I started winning more," he said.
By age 10 he was traveling for chess tournaments, even as far as Florida. The tournaments could last up to three days, playing two to three several-hour games a day. He would play against people of many different age groups.
Despite the mental focus required in chess and tennis, Gabe says he doesn't think the two are all that similar.
"I find chess and tennis really different," he said. "I guess in chess you have a lot of time to think. In tennis, you have to react pretty quickly."
He still continues to enjoy the game with Hillsdale's chess club once in a while. In his free time, he likes to watch other sports and hang out with friends. He says football is his favorite.
"The strategy of it is really interesting," he said.
Whether it's learning new football strategies, winning chess games, or perfecting his skills on the tennis court, Gabe's thoughtful character allows him to find joy.