Hartford, Conn. – From the squash court to the classroom, Raneem Sharaf’s success is realized because of her relentless commitment to excellence. Hailing from Cairo, Egypt, Sharaf is a mechanical engineering major and plays in the number one position for Trinity’s women's squash team. In addition, Raneem was ranked as the No. 5-ranked player in the nation after last season, and is a three-time New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) All-Conference and College Squash Association (CSA) All-American First Team honoree. Elected as a captain this season, Sharaf fits this leadership role naturally. She strives to be a leader that works hard and serves as a role model for the team.
Head Coach Wendy Bartlett says, “Raneem is the epitome of a student-athlete. She is one of the most focused and disciplined players I have ever coached and she has done an incredible job on the court and in the classroom. Raneem is such a strong leader and she is always ready to go get the job done and practice hard despite everything she has going on academically.”
As a senior this season, Raneem is determined to put a national championship ring on her finger, improve her national ranking, and complete her senior projects.
Q: Why did you choose to come to Trinity?
A: Originally, I wasn’t planning on coming to the United States at all. I was on a pro-tour in America and came to New Haven, Connecticut to visit family. I decided to walk around the Yale campus and when one of the squash coaches saw my backpack he invited me to practice with the team. I ended up beating the number one player on the team and immediately started to receive emails from all the Ivy League schools and Trinity. Ultimately, I wanted the opportunity to play squash while also exploring my passion for mechanical engineering, without sacrificing one or the other. Trinity was my first choice because of the small campus, engineering program, and most of all: the team. I have to feel part of the team first, and then I can play. At Trinity, I felt an instant bond with the girls.
Q: What is your favorite class and professor at Trinity.
A: ENGR 337- Thermodynamics and Professor Ian Adelstein in the math department.
Q: How do you balance academics and athletics?
A: I have a crazy schedule and truthfully, I don’t sleep a lot. I usually go to bed late after studying for hours. This semester is definitely stressful with school because I am working on my senior project where I am designing the shape of an airplane wing. I have learned that you just have to push through the hard moments and tell yourself that they will pass and be okay in the end.
Q: How long have you been playing squash and what do you like about the sport?
A: I have been playing since I was seven and I love the team concept. Trinity’s team has changed myself as a player because they motivate me to be better. When I got to Trinity, my performance peaked and I got so much better as a player because of the team.
Q: Are there differences in how squash is played in Egypt and in the United States?
A: Definitely. Squash is a huge sport for everyone in Egypt and we have so many men and women that are ranked as top players in the world, which we can look up to. The game itself is also very different. Egyptians are known to have good hands and to be risk takers, which can be really good or really bad.
Q: Do you have any superstitions or things you like to do before matches?
A: I have my special socks and favorite shirt that I like to wear. I always love to listen to Arabic music and zone everyone out. When there is 15-20 minutes before the match start, I don’t like to talk to anyone. I am known to be a slow starter, so I also try to warm-up really well.
Q: Who is your favorite squash player? And do you like to watch any other sports?
A: Amr Shabana and I also like to watch tennis and basketball.
Q: Do you have any advice to first-year students about being a student-athlete?
A: The most important thing is time management, so the sooner you can figure that out, the better. Also, you must be able to create time for yourself. Whether it’s watching Netflix, listening to music, or just laying in bed, it is so important to give yourself 20-30 minutes each day or else you’re going to lose it. Even if it’s 5 a.m. I always watch an episode on Netflix to relax and unwind.
Q: Have you had any internships or know what career path you want to pursue?
A: I definitely want to work with airplane dynamics and aerodynamics. I worked for ExxonMobil in Egypt last summer and I am looking to do something similar in America this summer. I haven’t decided whether I want to stay here or go back home, so I want to test the waters this summer.
Q: Are there any life lessons that sports teach?
A: Over the years I have figured out that in order to win a match you have to lose a lot in practice. Nothing comes easy, but you have to push through and put in the effort to be successful.