Rachel Zimet Pytel ‘02
Rachel Zimet Pytel ‘02
Title: Class of 2010
Organization: Basketball and Volleyball

Several members of the WPI Athletic Hall of Fame enjoyed success in multiple sports at WPI. A select few arguably had a Hall of Fame career in each of their sports. Undoubtedly, one such individual is Rachel Zimet Pytel.

On the basketball court Zimet was a double-double machine. She averaged double digits in both scoring and rebounding during her sophomore and junior seasons, and narrowly missed the trifecta her senior campaign by a 10th of a rebound per game.

She garnered All-NEWMAC honors her junior and senior years and was named second team All-New England by D3hoops.com during her senior year of 2001-02. It was that year that Zimet helped the Engineers to a 17-10 record and a berth in the NEWMAC semifinals.

The two-time captain reached the 1,000 point and rebound milestones as she tallied 1,096 points and hauled in 1,009 rebounds. The forward is in the top five in a career rebounds and held the school record for rebounds in a game and in a season. Her shooting percentage improved by at least 4 percent each year, starting with a solid 42.8 percent as a rookie in 1998-99 and ending with an eye-popping 60.2 percent her senior season.

“Zimmie was simply amazing!” noted head coach Cherise Galasso. “Her work ethic and determination inspired her teammates and set a standard of success for the program. On and off the court, she was a role model in every sense of the word.”

Zimet wasted no time bursting onto the collegiate volleyball scene. During her debut season in the fall of 1998, she took home NEWMAC Rookie of the Year honors after totaling 482 kills and registering an impressive .343 hitting percentage. She filled the stat sheets with 260 digs, 98 blocks, and 61 aces, played a huge role as the team compiled a 21-9 record, and defeated Regis and Westfield State to win the MAIAW championship.

She showed no signs of a sophomore slump as she earned All-NEWMAC status by tallying 334 kills, 235 digs, 37 blocks, and 30 aces while posting a .314 hitting percentage. The honors continued her junior campaign as she registered 342 kills, 257 digs, 58 blocks, and 51 aces while nabbing her second straight all-conference selection.

Her three-year career volleyball stats are staggering. Zimet amassed 1,158 kills to go along with 752 digs, 193 blocks, and 142 aces.

“Rachel was a strong, intelligent, and driven athlete,” says volleyball coach Nancy Vaskas. “Her talent, combined with her competitive nature, made her a force on the volleyball court. Rachel's impact on WPI athletics will be everlasting."

Zimet earned Academic All-NEWMAC accolades three times in basketball and twice for volleyball. She took home the Coaches Award as the top WPI freshman in 1998-99 and earned a full fellowship to MIT to earn her doctorate. She graduated from WPI in 2002 with a degree in chemical engineering. In 2007 she received her PhD in materials science and engineering from MIT, then went on to work as a polymer scientist at Dow Chemical Company.

Currently, Rachel and her husband, Chad, live in Boston—she says she spends her days chasing after their two-year-old son, Noah.