‘Always ready to work hard’, Gabriela Etopio and Tim McClure take charge as The Occidental’s Athletes of the Week

Tim McClure (senior), member of the men’s cross-country team at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Gabriela Etopio (sophomore), member of the women’s basketball team at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Nov. 12, 2021. Lizzie Friedrich/The Occidental

Gabriela Etopio

Guard Gabriela Etopio (sophomore) led the Occidental women’s basketball team to a 67-45 victory in their home game against Bethesda University Nov. 10. Etopio had 11 points, three steals, 13 rebounds, one assist and one block.

According to teammate and roommate Liberty Croutch (sophomore), the team did not start strong in the first half, but came back more aggressively in the second half. Given injuries to some of the team’s starters, Etopio had the opportunity to play in the team’s starting lineup instead of coming off the bench.

“We had quite a few injuries on our team, so Gabbie was able to start which I think helped her get into the swing of things a lot earlier,” Croutch said. “Our game in the first half was not the prettiest, but coming out the second half Gabbie played extremely well and changed the pace of the game.”

After a long break from basketball, Etopio said she was grateful to be back on the floor and play with her teammates.

“I find a lot of personal fulfillment and enjoyment in it,” Etopio said. “It’s a lot of fun to spend time with [my teammates] and have us all work towards our end goal, which is obviously winning.”

Etopio said the biggest challenge she has faced this season has been reworking her shot to ensure that her elbow stays in and her off-hand stays to the side instead of being in front of her face.

“My coach has been helping me a lot to develop my shot,” Etopio said. “It’s been tricky because I still sometimes fall back into old habits but I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s a work in progress.”

According to Croutch, Etopio encourages her teammates and always puts in a great effort.

“Gabbie definitely takes it to the next level,” Croutch said. “Before the season started, she would always want to go to the gym with me and she’d go before practice to work on her shot.”

Etopio said she is excited for the rest of the season and believes her team will continue to build on their positive momentum.

“I think our season is doing pretty well,” Etopio said. “We’re still getting to know each other and our plays … but overall I feel like it’s headed in a really positive direction.”

Tim McClure

Tim McClure (senior) was the first runner from Occidental’s cross country team to cross the finish line at the SCIAC Championships Oct. 30 in Claremont, CA. With a time of 26:17.5, McClure came in 36th place overall and helped the team secure their third-place finish.

McClure said he was subject to various challenges at the beginning of the year, including running on a broken toe.

“I actually came into the season with a pretty bad bout of plantar fasciitis, so I had to take some time off,” McClure said. “Then within the first two weeks of preseason, I broke my toe.”

Nonetheless, McClure said he entered the season feeling more mentally prepared than ever.

“I came in just really excited to actually compete and be able to practice with my friends again,” McClure said. “I have a new appreciation for college athletics and the experience that you get because I didn’t get to have that for an entire year.”

According to teammate Jackson Moore (senior), who has been racing with McClure since high school, McClure’s work ethic and focus are key to his success.

“He’s the kind of person who’s always ready to work hard,” Moore said. “Even if he’s stressed out or having a bad day, he shows up at practice and puts 100 percent of his effort in.”

Moore said McClure’s focus has led him to continuously progress as a runner.

“I think that Tim has been coming into his own as a runner,” Moore said. “Over the past year, I think that he’s been working really hard on changing his mindset from being focused on the people around him in a race to being able to take the reins and do his own thing.”