Athlete of the Week: Alice Onyango-Opiyo ’23

Opening the season with a 3-0 victory against Maryville College this past weekend, Swarthmore women’s soccer set a powerful tone for their return to competitive play since COVID-19 restrictions at the college restricted athletic teams from competitive play in the Spring. Among the three scorers, Alice Onyango-Opiyo, a junior from Harrisburg, PA, solidified Swarthmore’s success, scoring the final goal in the second half. The women’s soccer team is set to compete against New York University in New York on September 10. 

Anna Suh: What attracted you to Swarthmore’s soccer program?

Alice Onyango-Opiyo: I was attracted to Swarthmore’s women’s soccer because of how much the program valued the players as individuals first and emphasized genuine camaraderie within the team while still managing to be a successful program.

AS: What is your intended major and why?

AO: I am currently a neuroscience major on the pre-med track. I’ve always been interested in the brain and understanding the reasoning behind people’s thoughts and actions, so I think neuroscience has been a good avenue to understand those interests further. I also hope to work in the medical field in the future, so I’ve benefited from the overlap between neuroscience and the pre-med curriculum.

AS: How does it feel to return to campus and compete in intercollegiate competitions again?

AO: It’s really exciting being able to return to campus and compete again! It’s been fun watching our team get back in the swing of things and seeing us do well in practices and games. I’ve definitely missed being on the field with my teammates and getting the adrenaline rush from some healthy competition.

AS: How was your preseason experience this year?

AO: I think preseason was really special this year because it was the first time in over a year that the whole team could be together again, so it was a little like a big reunion. The free time in preseason also allowed for a lot of team bonding which helped everyone get to know new players better and establish a good team dynamic going forward. Everyone has had so much energy and excitement to be on campus and play together again, which I think has set a good tone for us going into the season.

AS: What are your personal and team goals for this season?

AO: One of our team goals is to continue to challenge each other in practices daily. My personal goal for this season is to be more of a vocal leader on the field.

AS: What is your favorite thing to do with the women’s soccer team off the field?

AO: My favorite thing to do with the team outside of practice is sitting at meals together and being able to just talk and hang out with my friends who also happen to be my teammates.

AS: What are your pre- and post-game rituals?

AO: I don’t have any superstitious pre-game rituals, but one thing that our team always does before games is sing in the locker rooms and in the classroom before we walk out to the field, which I think helps me get more excited and motivated for the game. I also have a little tradition with my teammate, Bex, where we pass one long ball to each other right before each game starts.

AS: What is your favorite memory from your time on the women’s soccer team?

AO: One of my favorite memories with the women’s soccer team was when we all found out that we had made it into the NCAA tournament during the 2019 season. When I found out, I was walking into my next class with a teammate and I remember jumping up and down with her and feeling the need to tell every random person we passed (I’m glad now that I didn’t). When the team all got to see each other at practice after that, we were all so happy to see each other and be a part of the team. It was definitely a special and exciting feeling that I won’t forget.

AS: What is a course that you are excited about this semester and why?

AO: This semester I’m taking a course called Environmental Justice: Theory and Action, which I’m really excited about. It’s outside the scope of my major, so I think it will challenge me to think in new ways. The course discusses how significant environmental problems are often disproportionately distributed to specific communities based on race, class, or other social identities. I’m hoping to learn more about how communities combat these issues, and how I can be more involved in environmental justice initiatives between Swarthmore and Chester.

AS: What is your favorite Sharples bar?

AO:  Indian Bar! (even though it gives me heartburn)

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