Alessandra Pelliccia and Lucas Chmielewski named The Occidental’s Athlete of the Week

Lucas Chmielewski (sophomore), this week’s athlete of the week, is a member of the men’s tennis team at Occidental College. Alessandra Pelliccia (junior), this week’s athlete of the week, is a member of the women’s lacrosse team at Occidental College. Thursday, April. 4, 2019. Nancy Zhou/The Occidental

Alessandra Pelliccia

Alessandra Pelliccia (junior) scored five goals and added three assists in a performance that helped see Occidental’s women’s lacrosse team edge Framingham State University 14–13 at Jack Kemp Stadium March 23.

Pelliccia’s contributions proved crucial in the game, and she explained how the team was expecting a tough battle from the beginning.

“We kind of knew they were going to be good competition,” Pelliccia said. “Also since they’re not in the SCIAC [Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference] it was important we did well against them because our conference is too small to get an NCAA bid unless we play well against out-of-conference teams.”

While Pelliccia is a prolific goal scorer with 28 on the season, she pointed to how a shift of focus offensively prior to this specific game saw her assists shoot up as well.

“We were working on really feeding the ball and having a more dynamic offense, so that’s where the assists came in,” Pelliccia said.

Head coach Hannah Khin explained how Pelliccia has impressed her not just in this game but throughout the course of the season.

“She’s a beast,” Khin said. “She’s currently leading our team kind of in everything.”

Pelliccia is a former 2016–2017 Offensive Athlete of the Year, SCIAC Newcomer of the Year and a 2018 second-team All-SCIAC selection. Khin explained how Pelliccia, now in her third year, is becoming more of a leader to her teammates.

“I think a lot of players look up to her, especially physically,” Khin said. “She always gives a hundred percent, she’s extremely fit, she very rarely gets subbed and so she really just has the stamina to play throughout a whole game, which is pretty impressive.”

On top of her impressive play on the field, Khin also described how Pelliccia is also an asset to the team off the field.

“She’s really supportive, she’s really positive. I’ve never seen her have a negative attitude or anything, so she’s definitely a pleasure to be around,” Khin said. “I think another great thing is that she’s also a great student. She’s a very well-rounded student-athlete.”

With all of Pelliccia’s individual qualities and successes, she described how the team’s success is what drives her on. The Tigers currently sit third in the conference with the second round of fixtures still yet to be played.

“I think my goal would be for us to work together and to have a lot of momentum heading into playoffs,” Pelliccia said.

The Diplomacy & World Affairs (DWA) and Spanish double major from McLean,VA, said the class she is most looking forward to taking next semester is international economics.

Lucas Chmielewski

Lucas Chmielewski (sophomore) won a singles tennis match in straight sets and a doubles match against Pacific University March 28. Reflecting on the match,Chmielewski said that he has improved his game throughout the course of this season by being able to start out sets stronger than ever.

“[I’m] definitely really proud of bouncing back because I felt that the matches even before, earlier on, I was a little bit shaky and I know the level that I can play at,” Chmielewski said. “But against Pacific and those other teams that we played, I think I really stepped up my level and made those corrections that I didn’t earlier.”

As a first year, Chmielewski played at the top singles spot for Occidental. As he transitioned into his sophomore season in the same role, he said he felt more relaxed than before, resulting in being able to make more critical plays down the stretch.

“This year, I’ve really been working on starting off right away really strong and also mentally playing a little bit smarter tennis,” Chmielewski said. “So when it comes to important points or crucial moments in games, to focus and be able to hit that extra ball.”

Chmielewski’s doubles partner, Cameron Coe (senior), said Chmielewski is a skilled player who he finds it easy to sync up with on the court.

“It’s amazing how technically and tactically sound he is, and crafty at the same time,” Coe said. “He’s funny and always has a calm demeanor, which makes it really easy to play doubles with him.”

Regarding where he hopes to stand at the end of his season, Chmielewski said that it does not come down to numbers, but rather enjoying the competition and energy of his teammates while finding growth in each match.

“I just look for improvement … it’s not about a better record than last year, I think it’s just about what did I do better,” Chmielewski said. “I feel like I’m there with all the top guys, and I think there are just a few things that I still need to improve about my game, but then we’ll be there.”

Chmielewski is an economics major from Pasadena, CA, and if he could play a tennis match anywhere in the world, he would play on the clay courts of the French Open.