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We Asked 6 Team USA Student-Athletes, “What’s In Your Backpack?”

By Lisa Costantini | Sept. 07, 2018, 1:21 p.m. (ET)


We caught up with six members of Team USA who not only have a full training and competition schedule but are also enrolled in school.  

In honor of Back to School Week, we asked them to give us a peek inside their school bags to see the things they can’t get through school — or a training session — without. See who carries a lucky bracelet from his mom and who travels with a pouch with a pineapple on it.

1) Kyla Ross, Gymnastics

School: UCLA
Year: Junior
Major: Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology (MCDB) 

School Supplies

Notebook: I use this notebook for English class to take notes in lecture.

Lab notebook: This is for my chemistry lab class, where I document my experiments. One of my recent experiments was making aspirin!

Sunglasses and sunscreen: Because it’s always sunny in California!

Body mist: I always carry this in my bag because I love to smell good.

Toiletries bag: My Aloha toiletries bag always reminds me of my family in Hawaii.

Daily planner: I love to stay organized with my busy schedule.

Trail mix: Always have to stay fueled. Trail mix is a great snack that gives me energy to get through my day.

Water bottle: I always make sure to drink enough water to stay hydrated, especially after hard workouts.

2) Alec Yoder, Gymnastics


School: The Ohio State University
Year: Senior
Major: Sports Industry

School Supplies
Laptop: As a student-athlete at Ohio State, school is priority. But keeping a balance between being a student and being an athlete can sometimes be difficult. So I always keep both my school supplies and my training supplies in my bag so I can easily go from one to the other. My laptop helps me stay on top of homework and my studies.

Tablet: My tablet is where I keep all of my competition videos and training videos, so I always keep it with me so that I can watch and review old routines to help me prepare to be better in the future.

Notebook: For in-class assignments and where I jot down notes to study later.

Planner: This is where I put all of my assignments down so I don’t miss due dates. (I’ve had some trouble with this in the past and this keeps me in check.)

Headphones: I always need music to get me through the day, so a pair of headphones is crucial.

Training shorts: One of the core necessities for training, shorts to get me through training on all six events.

Slides: It’s pretty rare when I wear shoes to the gym, a pair of slides is always essential for quick on and off for practice.

Grips: Grips for rings and high bar. Impossible not to have them!

Phone charger: Always have to keep my phone charged!

Recovery drink: Recovery is key, after a hard workout I always keep some key nutrition on hand to help me recover and prepare for the next day.

Water bottle: Always have to stay hydrated!

Want to learn to curl like the pros? Looking for breaking news, videos, Olympic and Paralympic team bios all at your fingertips? Download the Team USA app today. 

3) Taylor Turner, Weightlifting


School: Metropolitan State University of Denver
Year: Senior
Major: Criminal Justice & Criminology

School Supplies
Textbooks: “A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America” by Ronald Takaki, which I’m reading for class. School keeps me busy, but I am still training and working hard to try and earn a spot on the 2018 world championships team.

Laptop: The sticker I put on my laptop is of a woman lifting weights. Seeing it helps me keep focused mentally, not only on my school work but also training towards hopefully making an Olympic team one day.

Earbuds: My earbuds are another thing I don’t want to lose. I use these to pump myself up in the gym with music that gets me in the mood to lift big weight!

Planner: This planner keeps me organized. It tells me where I need to be and when, along with my training program. I would be lost without it!

Hand sanitizer: As I prep to try and make Team USA for the 2018 world championships, I need to stay healthy! I try to wash my hands as much as possible, but keep this handy just in case I need to get rid of germs.

4) Johnny Hooper, Water Polo

School: UC Berkeley 
Year: Senior 
Major: Business Administration (Haas School of Business)

School Supplies
Books: I don’t use too many books — almost everything is on my laptop! “Corporate Finance Reader” is a required book for my Finance class, but recently I’ve been interested in that industry.

Materials: “Brand Portfolio Strategy and Brand Architecture” is a marketing case study and I am extremely interested in marketing. In order to stay ahead, you’ve got to read up.

Laptop: I listen to music on my laptop when I’m studying. Right now, Astroworld and Life’s A Trip have been on repeat.

Financial calculator: You never know when you are going to need to calculate, so I stay prepared!

Pen, pencil and highlighter: I only keep one of each since I don’t have a lot of space in my backpack.

Earphones: I’m a big music guy and since I'm always on the go I need a pair of reliable earphones.

Wallet: I’ve always got to keep my wallet on me since my school ID gives me access into the aquatics building for practice.

Lucky bracelet: Shout out Mom! She gave me this bracelet a while ago that she got at a flea market in Tokyo. Its symbolic meaning is to give strength and humility.

Planner: I’m pretty forgetful and using a planner recently has definitely helped keep me on track.

Car keys: Sadly, I’m pretty lazy and drive everywhere I go. Even if it’s three blocks to the pool from my house.

Chargers: My mobile is always running low on battery, so I either have a charger or charging case on me at all times.

Lip balm: Just in case.

Gum: Always good to have some on you.

5) Tara Davis, Track and Field


School: University of Georgia 
Year: Sophomore
Major: Special Education 

School Supplies
Backpack: Team USA backpack with my name on it, and a Georgia name tag so everyone knows what sport I play. Also, if anyone wants to steal my bag, they can’t!

Journals: I have two 3-subject spiral journals I carry in my bag every day. I use those journals to write my notes and reminders for myself. I have six classes and each class has their own section in the journals.

Calculator: I am in a math class and we are required to bring a calculator every day.

Pens and pencils: Of course. And I have every color in pens.

Earbuds: How I listen to my music when riding the bus or walking in between classes.

Snacks: I bring snacks every day. It is important to have snacks, especially if you have a workout in the afternoon. You never want to go to practice on an empty stomach. I also bring a lunch that I meal prep that week.

Water bottle: Always have to bring a water bottle to class with me, have to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Gum: Almost every person has a pack of gum in their backpack. Nobody wants stinky breath. Gum also helps me focus in class — not sure how, but it does.

Lip balm: I carry this almost everywhere I go. I can’t stand having chapped lips. At one point during the school year I was carrying around three of them.

6) Drew Shellenberger, Triathlon


School: Southport High School in Indianapolis 
Year: Junior

School Supplies
Backpack: I use the USA Triathlon backpack I won at high school nationals in 2017. It is looking a little beat up, but I love it anyway.

Laptop: Every student at Southport High School in Indianapolis is issued one of these, and uses it for online assignments — OK, for pretty much everything!

Book: “The Things They Carried” by Tim O'Brien, the book we are reading in AP English. It is a group of letters written by soldiers in the Vietnam War to loved ones back home in the USA.

Folders and binders: Keeps all my info for each class.

Graphing calculator: In calculus, we use it every day.

Pens and pencils: I really like a specific type mechanical pencils. Any pen will do as long as it is a clicky pen!

Wireless headphones: Two sets, in case one dies. Can you tell I forget to charge things? I like this pair I won at the 2017 USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships.

Team USA pullover: In case I get cold. That usually happens in the lunchroom. I wear it pretty much every day!

Planner: To keep organized. Our school has a block schedule, so I don’t have every class every day, and I don’t want to miss any assignments! I also have a countdown to the Youth Olympic Games.

Phone and charging cable: My phone still dies sometimes.

Wallet: With my school ID and the driver’s license I’ve had since April.

Water bottle: I try to drink three bottles of water each day at school.

Snacks: I’m a calorie-burning machine, so I’ve got to have snacks! My favorites are fruit smiles and s'mores granola bars.

Gum: Peppermint is my favorite flavor.

Related Athletes

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Kyla Ross

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Drew Shellenberger