In The Locker Room With Dual-Athlete and Student Senator Iyanna Lewis


Courtesy of GeoYeo

College second-year Iyanna Lewis.

College second-year Iyanna Lewis is back on campus and ready to tackle the summer semester. Lewis, a member of both the volleyball team and the track and field team, also finds the time to be vice chair of Student Senate, a Peer Advising Leader, and the co-chair for the Oberlin dance group AndWhat!?. Lewis is a Physics major from Washington, D.C. and spoke to the Review about the difficulties of the past few semesters during  COVID-19, her excitement for the upcoming seasons, and her role in Student Senate. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.  


How excited are you to be back on campus and to be able to have a volleyball season this semester?

I am very excited. I was literally just talking to my coach the other day about it. Working out and training during the pandemic was just really hard, because I didn’t really know what the end goal was. It felt like I was just kind of doing stuff for no reason, but having a concrete finish line has made the journey of working out just much more fun. So yes, I am just very excited to play. 


How were you able to stay involved with your team during the COVID-19 break?

We did a lot of virtual team meetings, and me and my teammates just FaceTimed a lot. The volleyball team is a lot smaller than the track team, so it was probably easier to stay so connected with them, but I still stayed in contact with my track and field event group constantly — just a lot of little group chats and sending each other cute TikToks. 


At what point did you decide you wanted to play sports in college?

My sophomore year of high school. I actually hadn’t really played volleyball before then. I kind of weaseled my way into varsity back in high school by just being semi athletic and dedicated. I discovered that I really enjoyed volleyball, and I got involved with club volleyball and [Amateur Athletic Union] type stuff. I ended up committing to Oberlin for volleyball at the end of my senior year. I was very content with just playing volleyball but things changed, and now I am very happy that I am also a member of the track and field team. 


How do you balance competing in two different sports and academics at Oberlin?

In terms of two sports, the main thing is just listening to my body. I’m the type of person who always does and always wants to give 100 percent, but I know that my body can’t always handle 100 percent in two different areas. I try to be very communicative with my coaches about these needs, and I also make sure that I give myself mental health days, too. In terms of classes both of my coaches are very aware and understand that academics are first. Some of my classes — specifically STEM — can be really difficult and take up a lot of my time. Like I might have a lab right before practice and my coaches are completely okay and understanding with me being a little late. 


What did you miss most when you were away from track in the spring?

I just missed the people. I’m one of the few people on campus who can say that they have over 100 teammates, and I missed not being able to communicate with all these people who I saw on a regular basis. A lot of people who I cared about and a lot of people who cared about me just kind of disappeared so quickly because of COVID-19. It hit me pretty hard. 


What classes are you looking forward to most this semester? 

This semester? My Physics class is very hard, but it’s also very interesting. So that’s fun. I also am in a Sociology class with a ton of my friends. So those are the main two — but no offense to any of my other classes. 


What made you decide you wanted to run for Student Senate? 

I actually only ran because I was nominated during the first iteration of the #BlackoutSenate campaign. I was very excited about my nomination. I thought it was really cool that someone thought I would be good at this. After going through the bylaws I kind of purposefully picked a lowball position that wasn’t super time-consuming. So for the first and second semester I was the operations manager and the communications director. That was just mostly making sure we all stayed organized and putting information on social media. This summer, though, I’m vice-chair and this fall I’ll officially be vice president of student life — which is definitely a bigger commitment. My main goal is to connect the athletics community with the greater Oberlin community.