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athlete of the week

Athlete of the week: Mayank Agrawal ’18

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Mayank Agrawal ’18, hailing from Sugarland, Texas, has contributed immensely to the Swarthmore Men’s Cross Country team throughout his four years with the program. Agrawal finished 24th overall in the Centennial Conference Championships this past Saturday, leading the Garnet to a fifth-place finish. Agrawal’s stellar performances were not limited to the Conference Championships: notable highlights throughout his senior season include a 17th place overall finish at the Bryn Mawr Invitational, and a 21st place finish at the Paul Short White. Agrawal and the team will prepare for their final meet, the NCAA regionals, on Nov. 11.

Ping Promrat: What is your major, and what inspired you to pursue it?

Mayank Agrawal: I am a double major in computer science and philosophy. In high school, math was my thing, but I didn’t think I’d be able to do a full math major, nor have the science chops to do an engineering major. Computer science seemed like a great hybrid of the two, even though I had no computer science background coming into Swarthmore. I became interested in philosophy during my freshman spring after taking Introduction to Philosophy with Professor Thomason. There’s actually a very large overlap between philosophy, and math and computer science, believe it or not.

PP: What do you want to do after you graduate from Swarthmore?

MA: Ideally, I plan on going to graduate school to study cognitive science. I want to better understand how the mind works, while using computational frameworks to try and answer those questions.

PP: How have you balanced the opportunities you’ve been able to pursue outside of the classroom with competing and staying fit for cross country?

MA: There’s no perfect magic formula to it, but I’ve had to figure out how to allocate my time to pursue what’s important to me. Having such a big time commitment for practice in the day forces you to plan efficiently. I actually think participating in a sport has allowed me to be much more efficient and get more work done, because I think I’m much more aware as to how valuable my time is.

PP: As you reflect on your career at Swarthmore, what was the most rewarding athletic experience for you?

MA: During my sophomore spring, I ran the 10k at the Outdoor Conferences. I wasn’t expected to place (the top eight place), and it was my first time running this distance. As the race went on, I kept on picking people off, and I ended up snagging 8th place and placing, which was a complete shock to me. The race was on a Friday night, and most of my teammates who were coming to Conferences weren’t there yet. However, when I got back, I found out that the whole team was watching the livestream in Sharples. To have such a huge athletic achievement, while having teammates watching and cheering me on from afar was one of my most memorable experiences at Swarthmore.

PP: What got you into running as a sport as a child?

MA: One weekend during my sophomore year of high school I was really bored, so I decided to go for a run. It was the most painful experience of my life, but I actually enjoyed it! At the beginning, I couldn’t even run a mile. However, I began to run every weekend, and then every day, and then eventually joined the track team at my high school.

PP: If you could change one thing about Swarthmore, what would it be and why?

MA: I think in regular discourse at Swarthmore, particularly outside the classroom setting, we need to get better at evaluating people on their justification for their views. Sometimes, myself included, we are quick to label people who have different views than us, and I hope that Swatties can continue to aspire to be more open-minded.

Athlete of the week: Sophia Stills ’21

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Last week, the Swarthmore Women’s Soccer team continued to build on a successful 2017 season, with two big conference wins against Bryn Mawr and Gettysburg. Crucial in the two wins was forward Sophia Stills 21 of Los Angeles, California, who scored in both games coming off the bench.  The Garnet have clinched a playoff spot and currently sit in second place in the Centennial Conference standings. They will play one more game at Haverford this Saturday before the playoffs begin.

Jack Corkery: What is your intended major, and what made you choose to study it?

Sophia Stills: I am interested in history and peace and conflict studies. Ever since high school, I have been very interested in history, and I had decided then that I was going to probably major in it once I got to college. Peace and conflict studies is something that I really didn’t know much about before coming to Swarthmore. But on the first day of classes, I was introduced to the subject and I gained a keen interest in the topic.

JC: What made you decide to attend Swarthmore?

SS: A variety of reasons. I think I am very lucky because Swarthmore is a place I can thrive academically, socially, and also it was a good fit with soccer. When I came here for a visit and took my tour, the classic “Swarthmore Student” sounded like a person very similar to myself, which made me realize I wanted to come here.

JC: How difficult has the adjustment to college academics and athletics been for you?

SS: The transition was made a lot easier by the fact I had the soccer team behind me. It was great to have a group of people to go to when you needed help with all the new stuff going on, like new professors, new environment, and new side of the country. Also, the social aspect of making friends was made much easier by having the soccer team.

JC: How does the team feel about moving into the NCAA regional rankings?

SS: I actually am not really sure where we are ranked. As a team, we try not to check the rankings and get caught up in where we are, so we can stay focused on the next team we play.

JC: Do you have any goals for the remainder of the season?

SS: Personally, my biggest goal is to fill whatever role the team needs me in, whether it is on the field or being a supportive teammate. I think if we continue to focus on being our personal best, our team will continue to have success.

Athlete of the Week: Mehra den Braven ’20

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Volleyball standout Mehra den Braven ’20 has thrived so far in her second year on the team. An outside hitter hailing from Santa Clara, Calif., den Braven has captured All-Tournament honors for the second straight weekend, as the Garnet have extended their record to 13-5 overall and remain undefeated at home. Den Braven has 218 points recorded throughout the season so far, with highs of 27 digs against Stockton University and 17 kills against Eastern University. The Garnet return to action Oct. 12 with an away match against Rowan University, and again on Oct. 14 in a rematch of last season’s Centennial Conference Championship at Johns Hopkins.

Ping Promrat: What is your intended major, and what motivated you to pursue it?

Mehra den Braven: I don’t know my intended major for sure, as I’m still trying to find my niche. Right now, it looks like it will be political science and economics, and maybe sociology or peace and conflict studies mixed in there.

PP: What got you into volleyball as a kid? How did you find out about volleyball at Swat?

MDB: My parents forced me to go these club tryouts. I got on the best team because I was tall, not because I was good! However, that’s really where I fell in love with the game, as I was surrounded by players who were much better than me. I was recruited by Swat over a two-year process, as I met Cecily Scavicchio [the old assistant coach] at an academic camp. As I got to know her and Harleigh Chwastyk [the head coach] is when I started to fall in love with Swarthmore

PP: What is your favorite part of being a student athlete?

MDB: My favorite part is the connections you make as a team. It made the transition to college for me so much easier, as I had many friends who struggled with that. I can always text anyone to meet up for lunch, and all the girls on the team make life so much more enjoyable!

PP: You were named to the All-Tournament Team at the Garnet Quad Tournament last weekend for the second weekend in a row. What is it like to have that type of personal success as a sophomore?

MDB: I always want to be better, so the ideal would be MVP of the tournament! However, I never expect any awards or anything, so I just focus on playing my game. At the same time, it is a balance between appreciating where you are and wanting to get better.

PP: Have you been participating in the kneeling protest during the national anthem? If so, what inspires you to take part in it?

MDB: I have been participating in the kneeling protest and showing solidarity. I’ve been so inspired by Lelosa [Aimufua ‘20] and Emma [Morgan-Bennett ‘20]’s motivation and strength in pursuing this, and how they’ve really thought about why they’re doing what they’re doing. However, it is really complicated still even within the team. Some people see the kneeling as disrespectful to our military, but for others, the kneeling is not meant to have that effect at all. I just hope people understand that at the end of the day, it is a peaceful protest that is focused on bringing attention to certain issues in our country that have been neglected.

PP: What are your athletic goals for the team, and yourself for the rest of the season?

MDB: The broadest goal for us would be winning the Conference Championships, especially after coming so close against Johns Hopkins last year. I want us to show a little more strength, swagger, and fierceness, and if we can keep building towards that, the success will continue to come.

Athlete of the Week: Marin McCoy ’19

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This past week, Junior Women’s Soccer player Marin McCoy won her third Centennial Conference Player of the Week award after scoring seven points in the Garnet’s two games. She set the program’s record for career points on Wednesday in a loss to Arcadia and tied the program record for goals in a win against Franklin and Marshall. She has 13 goals and nine assists this year. The Garnet have a rivalry matchup this Saturday against Johns Hopkins at 4 p.m.

Jack Corkery: What is your major, and what made you want to pursue it?

Marin McCoy: I am a biology major and have always really enjoyed learning about the way things work. I particularly enjoy learning about how the body works and understanding the various biological adaptations that animals have made over time to survive in their environments. While I enjoy all these aspects about biology, including the intimate relationship with the natural world, I find incorporating social justice into biological studies most compelling. If public health was a major option at Swarthmore, I would love to learn about how science can be used to stop injustices, systematic racism, and discrimination in our society.

JC: What appealed to you about Swarthmore when you were in the recruiting process?

MM: I really liked Swarthmore because it seemed to put a greater emphasis on academics than athletics. I wanted to be able to take advantage of all the things a liberal arts college has to offer, with soccer also being a part of my life. I really liked the emphasis Swarthmore put on social justice and I wanted to meet weird and quirky people.

JC: How did you feel when you set the school points record?

MM: I guess when I found out I was a little embarrassed. While I am sure my ego benefits from the limelight, sometimes I feel like it is unfair that forwards (those often scoring and assisting) get so much more attention over the midfielders and defenders. This record is without a doubt a testament to the opportunities that those teammates have created for me to finish. I am really proud of our team for creating so many scoring opportunities (53 shots in our last game!).

JC: You have a unique background not playing club soccer in high school, unlike most of your teammates, and you were also a three sport athlete in high school. How do you think your unique background prepared you for collegiate success?

MM: I think I avoided playing club soccer in high school for my own sanity. I was already beginning to get burned out of soccer, and I don’t think I would have been in the right place had I continued playing. I think having access to three different sports and all the coaches and teammates that came along with that really helped my enjoyment of the sport and the various aspects of different types of games. I also think that playing different sports might have given me a better field awareness, and it has possibly helped me better understand the sport from an analytical point of view.

JC: The team looks really good this year. What will the biggest key for success be going forward in the season?

MM: I think the key to success this season is continuing to play together as a team. When we play as a unit we are really, really hard to beat (and it’s super fun). I also think that when we score early, we are able to settle into our style of play, and if we can consistently do this we will have a lot more success.

JC: Do you have any goals, personal or team, for the rest of the season?

MM: Our team decided this season that we were going to focus on being present. This means that we don’t look up other teams, and we focus on playing our game regardless of the opponent. Personally, my goal this season has been to not regret the amount of effort I have put forth. It can be really hard to score goals while putting extra pressure on yourself. Instead, I try to focus on giving as much effort as possible and hope that this will help the team succeed.

 

Athlete of the Week: Michael Brown ’21

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Golfer and first-year phenom Michael Brown ’21 has made a historic impact on the Garnet in his debut season so far. Hailing from Reading, Conn., Brown finished first overall Sept. 10 at the Swarthmore-Neumann Invitational in a field of 82 competitors, shooting a 68 overall, one stroke off the Swarthmore program record. He was named Centennial Conference Golfer of the Week for his performance in the tournament and has continued to impress in both the Harrisburg Invitational and the Montgomery Cup in the weeks following. The Garnet return to action on Sept. 30 at the McDaniel Mason-Dixon Invitational.

Ping Promrat: How has the adjustment to college been for you, both academically and athletically?

Michael Brown: In terms of academics, Swarthmore is definitely a step up for me, as there is a lot more time management involved in balancing aspects of college life. I think I’ve adjusted well athletically, and it is a lot of what I expected coming in. The tournament atmosphere is very similar to what I had in high school and the tournaments I played in over the summer.

PP: What is your intended major, and what interests you about it?

MB: I’m currently undecided. That being said, I’m much more of a natural sciences kind of person, so I’m thinking about a potential environmental studies major. I also really like my Introduction to Economics class, too, so I’ll see where my interests take me.

PP: What has been your favorite part about collegiate athletics so far?

MB: I’d say bonding with the guys on the team. We’ve travelled together for multiple tournaments so far on the weekends, and I’ve had a great time with them so far. Also, it’s been great to see where my game stacks up on the collegiate level, as the field of competitors is much stronger than in high school.

PP: What are your athletic goals for the fall season?

MB: Hopefully to win as many tournaments as possible as a team. Personally, I want to stick to my routine of practicing with the team along with working out on my own. We have a great hitting net right by Mertz Field, so I plan to keep working on my swing daily, and making sure that every piece of my game is at its best for the upcoming tournaments.

 

Athlete of the Week: Francis Eddy-Harvey ’21

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Swarthmore Men’s Soccer player Francis Eddy-Harvey ’21 scored his first career goal on Saturday against Dickinson, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With Swarthmore losing 2-1 with around two minutes to go, Eddy-Harvey netted an equalizer that sent the game into overtime and secured a draw for the Garnet. The draw pulled Swarthmore to 2-3-1 overall, and 0-0-1 in conference play. They resume conference play this Saturday, Sept. 23, when they play at Muhlenberg College.

Jack Corkery: What do you intend to major in, and how did you choose the major?

Francis Eddy-Harvey: Right now, I plan to major in economics while also pursuing the pre-med track. Throughout my life, I have always been interested in the sciences, especially medicine. Additionally, my mom’s job as a budget analyst really sparked my interest in economics, as I have always found her work interesting.

JC: What was it like to score your first career goal in such a big moment?

FEH: It was exciting! I came in on an injury substitution without really having any time to warm up, and before I knew it, I was at the top of the box with a chance to score. I thought we played well in the game, so it was a relief to earn a point from the match.

JC: How well have you bonded with your teammates so far this season?

FEH: This is one of the most close-knit teams I have been with. We eat meals together and spend a lot of time together, and I think it shows on the field where we all stand up for each other without hesitation.

JC: How tough has the adjustment to collegiate-level soccer been?

FEH: At first, it was a little different than I expected, because everyone is just bigger and faster at this level. However, I think I have been able to adjust pretty well, because we practice like we’re playing games, which has helped a lot.

JC: How did you choose to attend Swarthmore?

FEH: My sister actually went to Bryn Mawr, so I already had some connection with the school. I attended some camps here and attended the Elite 300 camp, where I spoke to our coach afterwards. We stayed in touch, and I liked the soccer program here along with the academics, so I decided to attend Swarthmore.

Athlete of the Week: Riya Garg ’19

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Field hockey player and Westlake Village, CA native Riya Garg has lead the team to a fantastic start in the 2017 season. Coming off of a stellar 2016 season in which she started every game she played, Garg has already registered two assists and a goal in the first three games of the year. The Garnet return to action on Sept. 13 with a home game against Dickinson College.

Ping Promrat: What is your major, and what inspired you to pursue it?

Riya Garg: I am a math major and a computer science minor. Math had always been my favorite subject in school, and that made declaring the major easy! After this semester, I potentially could be done with the math major, which is really exciting.

PP: What is your favorite part of being a student athlete?

RG: My favorite part is definitely having a team on the field and off the field. Whether we are studying, taking classes together, or practicing and playing together, our field hockey team has really become a family for me in my time at Swarthmore.

PP: The team welcomed new head coach Hannah Allison this year. What has it been like adjusting to a new coach, and what has she brought to the program?

RG: We all really love her, and having her here is great for our program. She is a relatively young coach, which is really refreshing because she can relate to us in a lot of situations. Something specific that I really love about her is that she will sometimes let us play music at practice. It’s a little thing, but we get to show her our music, and she’ll add songs to the queue, too. I think it really is representative of our relationship with her: she is our coach, but also someone who wants to know us off the field too, music taste and all!

PP: The team is currently 3-1 to start off the season. How do you plan to keep up the momentum as the team heads into conference play?

RG: Our big goal for this season is to play our game and set the tone no matter what. Ultimately, we want to be in control of our destiny this year, no matter who we play.

Athlete of the Week: Briana Narzikul ’17

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This past weekend, Narzikul was the lone senior honored on the Garnet’s Senior Day. In the game that followed the ceremony, the Media, Pa. native tallied two goals, propelling her team to a 12-8 win. In the team’s next game against Washington College, Narzikul recorded a hat trick, giving her 28 goals on the season — a new career high.

MAX KASSAN: What is your major, and what influenced you to pursue it?

BRIANA NARZIKUL: I am a double major in Psychology and Economics because I am interested in business and entrepreneurship.

MK: What is your favorite Swarthmore athletics memory?

BN: My favorite Swarthmore athletics memory would probably be a tie between beating McDaniel this past weekend on Senior Day and beating Muhlenberg my freshman year in double overtime.

MK: What was going through your mind when you were honored during Senior Day?

BN: I was thinking a lot about how fast four years have gone by. It really feels like not too long ago I was playing my first game here at Swat.

MK: How did being the only senior affect how you carried yourself this season?

BN: It is definitely a unique situation; I just focused on trying to set a good example for my younger teammates.

MK: Do you plan to continue playing lacrosse after you graduate?

BN: Probably not competitively, but I can’t see myself totally stepping away from the sport. I may consider coaching at some point.   

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