Excellence On the Court, In The Classroom

By Shannon August

If you were to attend a volleyball match on Cal's Berkeley campus, No. 2 would be the only athlete on the court with a helmet. What started as a preventative measure against another concussion, turned into an advantageous tool for Robin Rostratter, a junior at Cal, to play her absolute best.

"The helmet allows me to feel more secure and lets me play my game," she said. "Just go all out for every play and play fearless."

But what is most intriguing about this individual is not what is on her head, but what is in it. Rostratter has priorities that put the 'student' back in 'student-athlete.' The aggressive attitude on the court reflects her attitude in the classroom.

Last year, Rostratter received the NCAA Elite 88 Volleyball Award, which recognizes the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA participating at the finals. Rostratter had carried a 3.81 GPA last year and is already looking to exceed her previous performance.

"I have always been a very driven person and I can always improve whether in school or on the court," she said.

Rostratter is double majoring in media studies and Spanish, a challenge to accomplish in four years. But she has the unique competitive mindset of an athlete to excel in school.

"I'm a competitive person. I want to be competitive in the classroom as well as on the court," she said. "I want to get the top grades and I want to play my best and perform every time. Whatever it takes, I am going to do it."

For Rostratter, Cal serves as both a top-notch school academically and athletically, which she thinks is the best of both worlds. Having this opportunity has contributed to her success both on and off the court, but she also has a secret: investing the time. Rostratter puts in extra time both for school and volleyball to perform at the highest possible level, which isn't always easy to do.

A typical day in the life of a Cal volleyball player consists of morning practice and film review, team training and team lunch, class, extra workouts, and dinner. A full-day schedule and Rostratter finds time to excel academically.

"Even today I went in and talked to my professor at office hours. I think that's what allows me to do so well in school," said Rostratter. "It's because of my competitive mindset that is transferred on the court and in the classroom."

Her sibling rivalry with her brother growing up and her parents' contribution in athletics has shaped a lifestyle that allows Rostratter to live and breath a game-like atmosphere. Even her time away from school and volleyball is filled with game nights with her roommates and friends where even a simple game of Catch Phrase can turn into a battle.

The libero position in volleyball calls for an aggressive attitude and is expected to not allow a single ball to hit the hardwood. This position requires you to be both competitive and a communicator, perfect for Rostratter.  The communication with her teammates on and off the court creates cohesion and is a key reason that Cal has reached the No. 1 ranking this year.

"Our team culture is to work hard and we all work hard for each other," she said. "It's always good to know that the person next to me on the court is working their hardest and I never have to question someone's work ethic."

Cal is going strong with an undefeated season, and to stay that way, Rostratter says that they don't focus on their ranking, but focus on their team culture of wanting to constantly progress.

"Every game is important and we try not to look past any opponent," she said. "On any given night, every team in the Pac-12 is very good."

This humble mentality has built a team culture of always striving to get better. Cal volleyball is accepting of where they are, but never satisfied, said Rostratter. There is always a hope for growth and continuous improvement.

No matter the opponent, rivalry, or pressure, Rostratter believes at the end of the day her team will go out and play Cal volleyball. And those victories for her carry into the classroom.

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