Joey Schwartz and Lydia Montgomery speed to victory as The Occidental’s Athletes of the Week

Joey Schwartz (first year), this week’s athlete of the week, is a member of the men’s soccer team at Occidental College. Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. Lydia Montgomery (first year), this week’s athlete of the week, is a member of the women’s cross country team at Occidental College. Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. Nancy Zhou/The Occidental

Joey Schwartz

Joey Schwartz (first year) of men’s soccer won SCIAC Offensive Athlete of the Week for scoring both of Occidental’s goals against California Lutheran University Oct. 19. According to Schwartz, his decision to take a late risk with nine minutes remaining in the game led him to net the game-winning goal.

“I took a chance, I took a gamble,” Schwartz said. “Their center back was running back, and I was chasing him. I anticipated him making a mistake when he was passing back to the goalkeeper and luckily, he did, and I just put it away.”

Schwartz said winning the SCIAC award for the first time in his career is a meaningful recognition of the work he has put in.

“It’s really nice, just for my family and all my friends to recognize what I’m doing,” Schwartz said. “It’s a sign of moving in the right direction.”

In his first season with the Tigers, Schwartz is the second-leading scorer with four goals. While high offensive production from a first year is uncommon, Schwartz said he always knew he was capable.

“I knew I deserved to be here. I knew that I could help the team,” Schwartz said. “I put in a lot of hard work over the summer and over the past few years to be able to play here, so it’s a privilege.”

Coming off of a string of conference losses earlier this year, Schwartz said the team has to keep their positive momentum through the final games of the regular season.

“The hardest part of our losing streak was getting the ball rolling, finally getting a win,” Schwartz said. “But we have to continue working. We’re definitely looking to beat Chapman this week, clinch a playoff spot and hopefully win our first SCIAC tournament.”

According to Schwartz, the challenge of stepping in to fill the role of talented seniors who graduated last year has helped him play even harder.

“I enjoy the pressure. I enjoy the challenge,” Schwartz said. “It’s really exciting to know your teammates support you and they believe in you.”

Schwartz said the best part of being an Occidental soccer player is the brotherhood that competition fosters amongst the team.

“We’re all like brothers and we all fight for each other,” Schwartz said. “We see each other every day and we grow together.”

Schwartz said being on the team as a first year gives him a sense of community at Occidental he never would have had otherwise.

“I didn’t know anyone coming in here, and right away, I had best friends and future best friends,” Schwartz said. “It definitely helped me adjust to such a new environment.”

Outside of soccer, Schwartz loves movies, being outside, exercising and hanging out with friends. He thinks Occidental should host Kanye for SpringFest.

Lydia Montgomery

Lydia Montgomery (first year) was Occidental’s second-fastest finisher at the Oberlin College Inter-Regional Rumble Oct. 19, running the 6K with a time of 22:42.9. All eight Occidental women who competed in the race, including Montgomery, ran their lifetime bests.

Montgomery said it was her first-ever 6K race, which would automatically make the time her lifetime best.

“It was also [at] a faster pace than my 5K PR, so that was pretty exciting to know that my fitness is definitely improving. I didn’t really know how it would go going into the race,” Montgomery said. “It was a new place and a lot of different factors.”

One of the factors that made competing in Oberlin, Ohio different from competing in LA was the weather. According to Montgomery, she was pleasantly surprised by the suitable weather on race day.

“It was really good conditions, which I wasn’t really expecting because Ohio in the fall is kind of up in the air,” Montgomery said. “It was sunny and not too cold. It was definitely a good change from here, because our first 5K was really hot, and it was just hard to run under that kind of heat.”

According to Montgomery, another factor that contributed to her success was longer and faster training sessions at Occidental compared to her practices at Ingraham High School in Seattle, WA. Although the overall training distance is similar back at Ingraham, the duration of each training session is not as long. Here, each running session lasts between 20–40 minutes. The experiences of upperclass teammates helped her find her pace for distances she had not run before.

“It’s been great, since a lot of upperclassmen girls that I can run with do a really good job of setting the pace,” Montgomery said.

Outside of practice, Montgomery said being part of the cross country team enabled her to know many friendly and welcoming people, which facilitated her transition to college.

The cross country team’s next race will be the SCIAC Cross Country Championships on Nov. 2. Montgomery said she finds the event nerve-wracking because it is a championship, but she hopes to stay strong mentally and run faster than in Oberlin.

“Cross country is such a mental sport, if you start hurting, it’s easy to slow down,” Montgomery said. “But to push through that feeling — I feel like that’s the most rewarding thing that you can do.”