Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas Celebrate Teamwork On and Off the Field

By Ella Murdock Gardner ’22

When Elizabeth Howell-Egan ’22 began touring colleges, she was looking for a school that would offer her both a rigorous basketball program and stellar academic opportunities. “As soon as I saw Scripps, everything clicked,” she says. “I knew I wanted to play here.”

Four years later, Howell-Egan knew she made the right decision, citing how her basketball coaches’ unwavering support and dedication helped her grow as an athlete, a student, and a person. “The coaches come in early and stay late,” she says. “They’ll move their schedule around if you want to get extra practice in, if you want to watch film, if you want to talk about things outside of basketball. Their confidence in us—as people and as players—inspires us to achieve excellence, both on and off the court.”

Being one of the “’Nas”—as Howell-Egan affectionately calls the Athenas—defined her college experiences and allowed her to forge connections that will last beyond her time at Scripps. “Every single person on the team is a sister, one of my best friends,” she says. “I could go to them for anything, and we have a kind of closeness that I think is really rare and special.”

These strong team bonds prove especially beneficial for first-and second-year athletes who are playing their sport at the college level for the first time. Since arriving on campus after a year of online learning, history major Bella Amador-Lacson ’24 has found a ready-made support system on the golf team. “I’m not the most outgoing person, so it was difficult for me to make friends on Zoom,” Amador-Lacson says. “Here, we have team dinners every week, we practice together, we commiserate about being sore after lifts, and we celebrate everyone’s progress. You feel like you’re part of a family.”

For physics major Natalie Dale ’22, the decision to walk onto the softball team during her first year opened the door to the other Claremont Colleges. When not attending her classes or training with the softball team, Dale worked in the equipment room at Roberts Pavilion and was part of the game day crew for several other Claremont-Mudd-Scripps sports; she worked the scoreboard for soccer games, ran balls for football games (giving her “the best seat in the house”), and kept track of points in the official scorebook for basketball. “I loved being so deeply involved in the sports scene at the Claremont Colleges,” she says. “Playing on the softball team gave me the opportunity to make friends with so many people across the consortium.”

What advice would these student-athletes give to prospective Athenas? “Your sport itself is played pretty much the same everywhere, so the team culture is what will make your experience so unique,” says Amador-Lacson. In a similar vein, Dale encourages prospective students to get a sense of the “team vibe” by talking to coaches and current players. “We’re supportive, we’re goofy, we love yelling the most ridiculous chants during games,” she says. “We work really hard at our sport, but we also work really hard in the classroom.”

Howell-Egan says her experience as an Athena shaped both her Scripps experience and her path after college. She will attend law school in the fall, and her coaches connected her with an alum from the basketball team who has given her guidance, support, and insight into the profession. While she’s excited for the future, Howell-Egan spent her senior year making a concentrated effort to stay grounded in the present. “It sounds cheesy, but my advice is to cherish the wins, the team dinners, the tough practices that seem to go on forever,” she says. “If you have the incredible opportunity to attend Scripps and play the sport you love, try to take in every moment to the fullest.”