In the Locker Room With Hannah Christiansen and Katie Skayhan


Hannah Christiansen (left) and Katie Skayhan, athletes in the Conservatory

Nate Levinson, Sports Editor

This week, the Review sat down with Conservatory student-athletes Hannah Christiansen, fifth-year lacrosse and field hockey player, and Katie Skayhan, senior track and field member, to discuss how they manage their busy schedules, what they use their lockers for and the similarities between playing sports and music.

What instrument do you play in the Conservatory?

Hannah Christiansen: I study violin.

Katie Skayhan: I am a singer, so I play my body. [Laughs] I’m a soprano, the highest voice type on the spectrum.

What are the unique challenges presented by being both in the Conservatory and on a sports team?

HC: I feel like the biggest challenge is just the enormous time commitment for both. You’re supposed to spend four hours practicing your instrument every day, and you’re essentially in [sports] practice for four hours between lifting and the training room and then the two hours of actual practice. So that’s eight hours out of your day, and then you somehow have to be a real person on top of that, too.

KS: I would agree that time management is probably the biggest challenge, mostly because you do have to find the right kind of balance between figuring out when you can study and trying to make allowances. So, I have to memorize music on the bus or figure out the quickest way to translate all of my foreign language work. I think coaching faculty and staff have been very accommodating for me, knowing that the music is my primary education and life choice. They get it in the same way as they would get any College major.

Did you come to Oberlin with the intention of playing music and a sport (or two)?

HC: I started in the College and then became double-degree, and I came in knowing I was playing field hockey and then I walked onto the lacrosse team. I knew that I eventually wanted to do double-degree, so that was always the plan.

KS: I walked onto the track team. I was actually recruited out of Coach [Jason] Hudson’s Fitness for Life class. He was teasing me when we were in class, saying, “You’re actually pretty fast,” and he saw all the gear I had, since I was actually pretty competitive in high school. I was really reluctant to start at first, but he told me I would definitely have the time to do it, and I fell in love with it and got hooked.

Do you find that there are similarities between making music and playing a sport?

HC: Definitely. My violin teacher is always telling me how to think and how to have a mindset of being professional and being very high-level in everything you do, and I think that really applies to sports as well.

KS: I think music teaches you to be very disciplined. For me, because my instrument is my actual body, [running track] helps me connect to my breath better, and by being more in shape, it helps my singing. I noticed a huge transitional period after I joined the team because I was doing all these things that were better for my body.

Do you find yourself struggling more than some of your peers to put enough time into your activities?

HC: I feel like I definitely miss practice a lot more than anyone else on my team, which is unfortunate because, as the team captain, I shouldn’t do that. Thursdays I don’t go to practice because I have studio. It’s kind of a struggle, but my coaches have been pretty good about giving me outside workouts and watching [game] film with me and things like that to make up for it.

KS: It’s definitely challenging. There are those moments when I feel like I need to rally and get on my game going to practice. If you spend your whole day singing and then you have to go and lift for two hours, you’re already tired and probably hungry, too. You just have to suck it up and be there for your team.

Do you use your Conservatory or gym locker more?

HC: I use my Con locker for food and I use my gym locker for all my laundry.

KS: I think they both end up becoming little storage units by the end of the semester.

Have you improved more as an athlete or as a musician in your time at Oberlin?

HC: Probably as a musician, but it’s hard for me to track my athletic progress because I missed a season of field hockey when I was injured. I don’t even remember how I was as a player before that.

KS: It’s literally night and day listening to what I sounded like when I came into Oberlin and what I sound like now.