Everyday Champion - Leslie Mak
Feb. 9, 2010
It was a lucky chance that Leslie Mak ended up at Oregon State. Tanya and Michael Chaplin were attending a gymnastics meet in Canada in support of Laura-Ann Chong, who was already on the team, when they spotted Mak, who was in the same rotation with Chong. Mak's performance forced the Chaplin's to contact her coach and from there she quickly committed to Oregon State.
In 2009 as a freshman, Mak burst onto the scene at Oregon State as a fan favorite in three lineups (bars, beam & floor) for the Beavers. Mak was a Pac-10 co-champion on the uneven bars.
This season, Mak injured her elbow prior to the second meet of the season and has only performed in the beam lineup since, but continues to battle her way back toward the floor and bars lineups.
How did you arrive at Oregon State?
'I came to Oregon State because Tanya and Michael recruited me. They saw me at a competition in Canada that Laura-Ann Chong was competing at. We were in the same rotation and that's how they found and contacted me. Then I came on my recruiting trip and fell in love with it. Looking back, I don't think I would change any of my decisions about Oregon State. I am so happy and beyond pleased with this school.'
Is there anything specific that helped you make the adjustment from Toronto to Corvallis and college?
'What made the adjustment easier from Toronto and high school and coming to Oregon State was having a wonderful team and wonderful coaches who are pretty much my parents here. And I think especially having Laura-Ann here, as a Canadian, she set the pace for Canadians before we actually came on campus ... and also, having great friends.
What led you to the major of business and marketing?
'I'm interested in business and marketing because I feel that it's a lot about social networks, and through gymnastics I've learned how to socialize and put myself out there. I think I'm going to really enjoy doing that with business as well.'
Where does the high level of importance you place on academics come from?
'My parents always saw academics as very important and my sister (Allison), who has always been a role model to me, has obviously put a lot of importance on my academics. She goes to Yale University and that was always an inspiration for me to do the same thing and focus on that.'
What are the keys to your academic success?
'The keys to my academic success are staying focused and time management. Being a student-athlete, you have to know how to balance your sport with your academics, with your studying, and staying on top of everything. It is also important to use the resources given to me, such as tutors and free printing. With gymnastics we often miss a few days of school, especially when we're travelling. The only way we can deal with it is having our academic advisor stay in contact with our teachers, and then it really all depends on how supportive the teachers are. At Oregon State, they are usually very helpful , they'll let us have exams that are proctored on the road. And that's what our teammates and coaches and tutors are for; to help us out in every way they can.'
Talk about your involvement in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee?
'I attend all the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee meetings because I think they're very important, and the things they're doing are important. Next year I plan to try to become a member of SAAC so I can become even more involved.'
What is it like competing for Tanya Chaplin?
'Competing for Tanya is an honor. It has been so amazing to compete and show how much you love something and that you're doing it for someone who is amazing and loves what they do. I love being an athlete for her.'
What is it like to compete at Gill Coliseum?
'Competing at Gill is such a thrill. It's amazing how many fans we have and how many boosters come out and support us, and we have our student-athlete friends there. It's so amazing having all that support. It really means a lot to me.'
What is having a scholarship from the BASF mean to you?
'Having the scholarship opportunity from the Beaver Athletics Student Fund means the world to me because we don't have those kinds of opportunities at universities in Canada. They don't have gymnastics at an NCAA-type level, so my scholarship opened some very special opportunities for me.'