Humble Fiegener tackles opponents, academics fiercely

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From pickup football in small-town Chester, Calif., to captain of the Occidental football team, Ross Fiegener (senior) has long showcased his natural talent on the gridiron. But even in his fourth year as an inside linebacker for the Tigers, Fiegener remains humble.

According to Fiegener, football became his calling in life early on. With the closest Pop Warner or Pee Wee league at least an hour away, a young Fiegener found his outlet at recess tossing the ball with classmates.

As he grew older, he began to rely on the Friday night lights of Chester High School to get his weekly football fix. Fiegener spent these Fridays with friends behind the end zone, awaiting the time when he would step onto the field. He finally realized his dreams by playing all four years for his high school team.

After a little more than three seasons of play at Occidental, Fiegener’s reputation precedes him.

“In all honesty, I’ve looked up to Ross. There’s no way you can question his work ethic and preparation,” Nick McHugh (senior) said. “He’s battled through injuries and he’s literally all you can ask for in a teammate.”

Both his teammates and head coach Doug Semones admire Fiegener’s work ethic and abilities. Semones sees him as the go-to man for younger teammates, yet also poked fun at his less-than-positive outlook on life. Semones laughingly told the story of how Fiegener came to be known as Eeyore among the team and coaches, due to his often glum and dispirited demeanor. However, his pride in Fiegener’s growth is apparent.

“Ross is like having a coach on the team—he’s the hardest worker we got and he walks the walk,” Semones said. “Leadership is action and Ross does it.”

Fiegener returns the affirmation to his supporters, both on and off the field. He spoke highly of his family and credited his parents for getting him to where he is in his life today, and attributed his athletic success to his teammates and coaches, keeping the limelight off of himself.

“It’s the best team and coaching staff I’ve ever been a part of,” Fiegener said. “We are so tightly knit and the coaching staff has brought new intensity to the team that was definitely needed.”

Off of the football field, Fiegener also flourishes in the classroom. While he claims to have chosen a kinesiology major simply because it was the closest thing to football, his friends had high praises for his academic performance in notoriously tough classes such as organic chemistry.

“He’s never owned a single textbook, but he’s one of the smartest kids on the team,” co-captain Teran Mawhinney (senior) said. “I swear he has a photographic memory.”

McHugh agreed with Mawhinney and joked that he is glad that he does not share his economics classes with Fiegener, as the linebacker frequently sets the curve in difficult classes such as organic chemistry.

Mawhinney knew from the beginning of their first year that Fiegener would be one of the hardest and most powerful workers on the team, but he had even more to say about him off the field.

“My four years here without Ross wouldn’t be the same,” Mawhinney said. “He’s one of the most loyal guys you’ll ever know.”