SPA-tlight: Catalina Pelaez


How did you pick up squash growing up in Colombia?
No one in my family had ever played and none of my friends practiced it, but one day at our club, Club Los Arrayanes, with my brother and two other friends, we decided to try out squash. My brother and I liked the game and we kept playing on the weekends. When we switched clubs to El Nogal, which I am currently a member of, I started taking lessons, maybe three times a week. Eventually I began participating in club, regional, national and eventually international tournaments.
Catalina SPA 18.6 DSC_0537

You are playing doubles with Miquel Rodriquez at the Pan Am games this summer, are you looking forward to this?
Yes, we are both really looking forward to this, training hard individually and setting our minds to win the gold.

I have known Miguel for many years and we are really good friends. We train at the same club in Bogota and his father, Angel Rodriguez, has been my coach for many years. Growing up playing with Miguel was very good and fun for me. He would teach me tricks and make me run around the court. He has always been an inspiration for me and I am really happy and honored to be his teammate and doubles partner.

You are also transitioning over to hardball doubles. Describe the differences from softball and how you have adjusted?
I have played some hardball doubles in the past, but just for fun.

In hardball doubles, the rallies don’t last as long as in softball because of the bounce of the hardball. When you hit the hardball low and hard, it comes out much faster and since the court is longer, the player has to run further up front to be able to reach it. What I have noticed in hardball is that players hit the ball higher and softer to the back and won’t drop or attack that much as in softball doubles.

Talk about the enjoyment and differences playing for Colombia and for Trinity College.
I have been playing for the Colombian National team for twelve years, counting junior teams. I started playing squash when I was nine.

Representing my country has and will always be an honor for me. Every time I am selected to play for Colombia I get really excited, and I always want to give my best and leave a high name of my country.  Our team has always been very united and that is what I like the most. We have traveled together around the world, supporting each other. We are able to disconnect from squash and have fun playing games between us. The team is very caring and I think this makes a difference in how we succeed in squash. Receiving a medal, wearing the Colombian uniform and singing my anthem is one of the best feelings I can ever have.

Playing for Trinity College was a whole new experience for me. It is very similar to playing for Colombia, but the difference is that the team is much bigger. This can sometimes be an issue since it is harder to get a big group, with different backgrounds, to get along and play like one. But, at Trinity this was possible. The fact that most of our team was international and came to Trinity for the same reason, squash, we all have a similar mind set, which helps the team to be like a family. It is truly amazing how universities come and support their sports team, which makes the environment even more exciting, especially when you are playing a tough match.

My four years at Trinity were a process, since every year we would finish one more place above from the past year, until finally my senior year we achieved our goal and became national champions. Every year was a stepping-stone with different experience that I would learn a lot from and applied it onto the next year.