Occidental women’s basketball player Toni Thompson (sophomore) was named the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s (SCIAC) Defensive Athlete of the Week on Feb. 7. Thompson was able to make 12 points against CalTech and 13 points against California Lutheran. In total, she made 19 rebounds, blocked two shots and had three steals.
Thompson said the relationships she has built with her teammates are the best parts of being on the basketball team. Early in the season, Thompson said she often injured herself during games, but when she came back after healing, her teammates always supported her.
“My teammates have my back,” Thompson said. “I’ve been hurt so much, but they still have my back no matter what and they’re cheering me on. The environment we’ve created amongst each other is something I haven’t had across my other teams.”
Thompson began playing basketball when she was around the age of seven as a way to relax. She said she would often go to the park with her brother and her father during the summer to practice.
“Basketball for me was a sport where I could just unwind. Although it’s a team sport, you’re working on your individual craft. So it’s like polishing your own skills,” Thompson said. “[Basketball] has a sentimental value for me and it was a bond created between me, my brother and my father.”
Thompson said she is an introvert but is glad that her teammates support her and have become close with her during her time at Occidental.
“The first day, two of my teammates found out where I was living [on campus] and they actually went down to my dorm room to meet me,” Thompson said. “We hung out that night as a team and having my teammates on campus has helped create a community for me.”
Head coach Anahit Aladzhanyan said she knew Thompson would be a perfect addition to the team.
“When we saw Tony play, her skill set was very obvious from just the first time watching her,” Aladzhanyan said. “We continued staying in touch, going to games and making it clear that we would love to have her join us and what Occidental has to offer.”
At Occidental’s swim and dive team’s latest meet against Chapman University, Beau Brauer (senior) swam the 50 breaststroke with a time of 31.57, 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:08.37 and the 200 IM with a time of 2:08.40.
Brauer said he started swimming when he was around seven and began to compete when he was nine. Starting to swim competitively was a choice that Brauer said he made himself. He said his favorite part of being on the swim team is the relationships.
“Everyone on the swim team is my best friends at school,” Brauer stated. “That is definitely the biggest way it has shaped me, it was like an automatic placement into a community.”
At the Occidental swimming and diving team’s 2022 senior send off on Jan. 29th, Brauer said it was a sad moment for the whole team to have their last home meet with all the seniors.
“We are all really close. So it was really bittersweet,” Brauer said. “We all made it to this point, but at the same time, kind of being sad that this is the end.”
Brauer said that as a gay student-athlete, he has found the team to be a supportive space for him — that was part of the reason he chose to swim at Occidental.
“We have always had a strong queer presence on the swim team and it has been a really accepting space where I feel like we can all just be ourselves and be whoever we want to be,” Brauer said.
Brauer said being a senior gave him a leadership position on the team that he was glad to have.
“It has been really fun to be older and in a leadership position. The freshmen and sophomores are like my little brothers and sisters,” Brauer said.
Coach Haley Mitchell said Brauer has an amazing presence on the team and has come back with excitement after being away for over a year.
“Beau is very authentic and I hope more athletes can train and compete as the truest version of themselves,” Mitchell said via email. “Everywhere Beau goes you can feel his energy.”