In addition to having made 10 starts for the Ivy League champion Princeton women's soccer team this year, Kristyna Smith is also a judo champion.
Here, Smith talks about her experience with judo:
My uncle and cousins are long-time competitors, involved in Judo Worlds and the Olympics. I began officially training my sophomore year of high school, entering junior state and national competitions that spring. By the end of the summer in 2008, I had been given the amazing opportunity of competing in nationals in Hawaii, Illinois, and Indiana, earning first in both California states and the United States Judo Federation's junior nationals for my weight division.
After taking two years off, I joined Princeton Judo and in February competed in the NJ state championships, taking first in the 63 kg division and second in the 70 kg division. Organized by the state's judo foundation and open to a wide range of ages and experience levels, competitors were not limited to New Jersey residents, showing a wide representation of various universities and nations. West Point, Penn State, and Rutgers were among the schools in attendance, while Korea, Poland, and Russia were also well represented.
The judo community is comprised of an incredibly diverse group of people united in their passion for a sport and martial art. It's difficult to describe the dynamic of judo; as an individual sport it represents a commitment to continued self-improvement, but as a part of this larger community, judo establishes an instinctive bond among competitors that forms an international family dynamic that I love and am incredibly grateful for.
Smith, a mechanical and aerospace engineering major, joined the soccer team in spring 2011 and played in two games that fall before gaining a starting role during this past season.