Lara Minassians and Alec Phillips impress as The Occidental’s Athletes of the Week

Alec Phillips (first year), this week’s athlete of the week, is a member of the men’s golf team at Occidental College. Tuesday, October 1, 2019. Nancy Zhou/The Occidental Lara Minassians (junior), this week’s athlete of the week, is a member of the women’s volleyball team at Occidental College. Friday, October 4, 2019. Nancy Zhou/The Occidental

Lara Minassians

Setter Lara Minassians (junior) recorded her 1000th career assist Saturday, Sept. 28 in a 3–1 loss to Caltech. According to Minassians, the career achievement came as a happy surprise.

“I found out the day before that it was going to be my 1000th assist from my teammate because I don’t check that,” Minassians said. “It felt so cool to be able to achieve that as a junior.”

Even though Occidental lost that game, Minassians said the confidence on the team is getting stronger, which she hopes will lead to more wins.

“We’re a newer team, so we’re learning how to best play with each other. We have so much potential,” Minassians said. “But what I think will put us over the edge and get us to winning those really close games is just believing in ourselves.”

According to Minassians, building trust as players will help the team reach a new level of play.

“The person next to you, you have to rely on them, you have to trust them and know that they’re going to be there at any second. Trust and communication are huge,” Minassians said.

Minassians said her success as a setter is rooted in reciprocated confidence between teammates.

“The setter is known as the quarterback of the team, because they touch every ball in every play. Not only do I have to trust the team, but they have to trust me,” Minassians said. “It’s in times of chaos and trouble that we need to trust each other most, and we’re learning to do that.”

According to Minassians, her parents’ consistent support inspires her to compete.

“They’ve supported me throughout my life in everything that I do,” Minassians said. “It’s just amazing to have that support. I do it for them, I play for them.”

According to head volleyball coach Heather Collins, Minassians’ willingness to learn helped turn her into the skilled player she is today.

“Lara is one of the most coachable players I have come across in my 25 years of experience,” Collins said. “She is able to handle constructive criticism and responds in a positive, productive way every time. By working hard and giving everything she has, her teammates really look up to her.”

Minassians is also the president and co-founder of the Armenian Students Association.

Alec Phillips

Alec Phillips (first year) of men’s golf shot Occidental’s best score in their 309-312 fall season win against Providence College Saturday, Sept. 28. According to Phillips, a strong back nine holes brought him back into contention in the round.

“I actually got off to kind of a slow start for the first half of the round, and then in the second half I got it going,” Phillips said. “In the back nine I made four birdies in a row, so that got the round back on track, and it ended up being a pretty solid day overall.”

Phillips said the team looked strong top to bottom, with one of their best cumulative scores to date.

“We played extremely well as a team,” Phillips said. “Our coach said it was one of the lowest team scores we’ve ever had, which was kind of nice for our first match of the year.”

According to Phillips, friendly competition within the team has pushed everyone to be more competitive in preparation for big matches, like their Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) opener in the spring.

“At the beginning of the season we all got 25 of these tokens, and we can challenge each other to matches, and whoever ends up with the most tokens at the end of the season will get to go play a really nice golf course,” Phillips said. “Being able to build in an aspect of competition in practice really helps you then be more comfortable when a real tournament comes around.”

According to Phillips, being on the golf team has helped ease the stress of the transition to college.

“There’s always some nerves or discomfort about being in a totally new environment,” Phillips said. “I thought it was really nice to be able to have some sort of community, some familiarity right off the bat with the golf team.”

Though Occidental’s golf team is young, Phillips said their eagerness to play gives them an edge.

“We feel like even though we are a young team, we can still compete now,” Phillips said. “That excitement is what is going to push us to keep working hard through the next few months and preparing to be competitive in the spring.”

According to head golf coach William Morris, Phillips’ calmness under pressure has helped him make the jump to college play.

“Alec has made the transition to college golf very smoothly. I admire his on-course demeanor, he is very steady and keeps his cool even if he has some adversity,” Morris said.

Off the course, Phillips enjoys exploring the outdoors and discovering more of what LA has to offer.