Curtesy of Go Yeo
College third-year and thrower on the track and field team Zac Ntia has not been able to compete since students were sent home from campus in March 2020 due to COVID-19. Recently, he has had to adjust to Oberlin’s three-semester plan and all the changes of the summer semester. Still, he is highly motivated to make the most of his upcoming final track and field season — competing in the discus throw, shot put, and the hammer throw — and help his team succeed.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What is the best part of throwing for the track and field team?
There’s too many great things to count. I’m a naturally competitive person. Win or lose — hopefully win — I love having the opportunity to compete against other schools and represent Oberlin College. Getting to push myself in meets and watch my growth week to week, year to year is something that I really enjoy. Cheering for my teammates is something special. Watching my teammates push themselves in practice and get closer to their goals each week is an honor. They’ve pushed me in a lot of ways that they’re not even aware of.
After being off campus last spring, what was the hardest part about not being able to compete?
The hardest part was not being able to compete with the seniors. I was close to a lot of people in that class and they were a huge reason why I fell in love with this sport.
What is your biggest athletic goal for your fourth-year and how can it be achieved?
A men’s team conference championship is my biggest goal for the year. I would also like to win at conference in a couple of my events this year, as well as make it to nationals. It’s been a while since I’ve been practicing with a coach in person. Using this fall to focus on what I’m feeling while throwing and understanding the movements better will be key to get to a point where I’m confident going into meets.
What is your area of study and how did you get interested in it? What are your post-college and career goals?
I’m a Psychology major. I’ve always been interested in behavior and mental processes. This last semester I had the opportunity to work with the at-risk youth in my area and that confirmed my interest in working with the youth. I’m currently working toward becoming a child psychiatrist.
What is it like being a Bonner Scholar at Oberlin?
It’s fantastic! The community is very special, and I’m excited to continue to build it these upcoming semesters. I’ve also been involved in service throughout my life, so having the opportunity to do that during college has been great.
What are the challenges of balancing being a student and varsity athlete? What do you do to manage time and keep stress levels low?
There used to be periods where I felt like I had no time. It was very hard to learn how to balance both aspects of my life. Luckily, I was able to go to people older than me and receive advice from them. Maya English, OC ’20, Malachi Clemons, OC ’21, Nae McClain, OC ’20, and Cece Longo, OC ’20, all gave me great advice on how to balance being a Bonner Scholar as well as a varsity athlete. I’ve gotten much better at time management and communication since my first two years on the team which has allowed for better balance and the ability to ask for help when I need it.
What has the summer semester been like for you?
It’s been a unique experience for sure. I’ve enjoyed being back on campus and interacting with everyone I haven’t seen in over a year. I was also looking forward to learning again. There was a learning curve trying to get back into good study habits and fighting burnout after not being in classes for such a long time. Another challenge was that our former throwing coach changed paths this summer. It’s been difficult, but all of the throwers have taken it in stride. We also hired our new coach, and I’m excited to grow with him.
What are your favorite activities and interests outside of school?
I really enjoy talking to my siblings as often as I can. They’re moving into special times in their lives, so I try to spend as much time calling or playing games with them as I can. I love listening to podcasts and music. I also really enjoy reading, but I don’t do much of it during the school year. This upcoming break, I’ll probably have quite a bit of time dedicated to reading. Keeping up to date with the NFL and NBA is how I round out the rest of my time.