The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.


Kathryn Khaw competes as a sabre for Penn women's fencing, but is busy as an athlete even outside of her varsity commitments.

Credit: Lizzy Machielse

You would think being a Division I athlete would be more than enough athletic activity for one person.

In that case, you haven’t met Kathryn Khaw.

By day, Khaw serves as a sabre for Penn women’s fencing, but by night, the junior participates in numerous intramural sports. As the residential advisor for one of the floors in Rodin College House, the collegiate athlete volunteers her time to helping coordinate the various intramural seasons for her college house.

“I’m responsible for creating the teams, [and] getting people to sign up,” the Khaw says.  “The teams I’m most actively involved in are essentially the ultimate frisbee team and the volleyball team, whereas I have been able to delegate the captain’s role to others for the soccer and flag football teams.”

Seems simple enough, right?

Add in practices for a nationally competitive fencing program with its own competition mere weeks away from ramping up and Khaw’s schedule begins to look significantly more complex— and let us not forget the engineering student’s class commitments as well. When asked how she manages her commitments, Khaw maintained that the key lies in keeping her priorities in check.

“I am always making sure that I put other things before intramurals, just because I am really busy; on top of being an RA and a fencer, I’ve been looking into research,” the NJ native stated. “I just make sure that I’ve been able to get a solid that will turn up as often as possible, and continue to be competitive.”

But for Khaw, her intramural sports involvement does not end at putting together a team that will show up. She also makes sure to play in as many games as possible with her intramural teams. Khaw frequently plays on her ultimate frisbee and volleyball teams. In addition, she occasionally plays on Rodin’s flag football team as well.

One thing Khaw recognized is the stark contrast between playing sports at an elite level and the concept of sport for fun.

“On the ultimate frisbee team it’s very chill, everyone knows everyone else’s name, and it is only an hour time commitment; we just show up and throw the frisbee around,” Khaw recalled. “Although, it depends based on sport, because whenever we do flag football, it’s very intense.”

Khaw’s volleyball team, the Rodin Rebels, hopes to begin its season this week. The team postponed its planned season opener last Tuesday due to a technical issue. 

Khaw is also well aware of the importance of protecting her body. As a Division I athlete, it would be frustrating (and woefully ironic) if her penultimate fencing season was derailed due to injury sustained in an intramural ultimate frisbee game. 

“I make sure I just take it easy,” the Rodin Rebels' captain noted. “Instead of going 120 percent, like at practice, generally when I play intramurals it’s more like 75 percent.”

Given what Kathryn Khaw can do on the fencing strip, that 75 percent will be plenty enough to dominate on the ultimate frisbee field.