Laura Mohler Faces Challenges Head On and Becomes a Natural Leader on the Court

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Author: Ryan Graff

Despite her small stature and not being recruited heavily out of high school, women’s basketball captain Laura Mohler (senior) has become a strong leader for the Occidental basketball program.

The 5’2″ point guard has been a facilitator on the court for the Tigers all season long and is recently at the pinnacle of her game. As the Tigers enjoy a 6-2 SCIAC record, Mohler seemingly always brings her A-game.

She averages 9.7 points per game and has posted double figures on six separate occasions this season, including a colossal 30-point performance against Redlands on Feb. 3.

She is also ranked second on the team in points (155), assists (47) and minutes played (540). Most impressively, Mohler has been a four-year starter for Occidental and has led them to three consecutive SCIAC Championships.

In addition to all these impressive statistics, Mohler possesses many intangibles as a student-athlete that make her such an asset to Occidental College.    

Mohler, a Seattle native, started playing basketball for her local community center in the third grade, and her skill set progressed quickly. By fifth grade, she started her own Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team and played this highly competitive brand of basketball until she entered the ninth grade.

The daughter of a University of Pennsylvania track athlete, Mohler was known as an all-conference sprinter on her Roosevelt High School track team in addition to being a star basketball player.

However, she has always preferred basketball and discovered that Occidental College would be the best place to pursue her athletic passions and desire for a higher education.

“Due to being an undersized player, I never got a chance to prove myself until college. So I think that most of my success at Occidental has come from my hard work more so than my natural ability,” Mohler said.

    In addition to her talents on the basketball court, Mohler is an accomplished Critical Theory and Social Justice (CTSJ) major with an emphasis in Queer and Gender Studies.

She is writing her senior compositions about queer and lesbian fan culture in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), and is trying to get it published in the Occidental CTSJ Undergraduate Journal.

The ideas of social equity and tolerance are very important to Mohler, and she tries to implement these into both her academic and athletic endeavors.

“CTSJ has forced me to really address and work out some of my own internalized “isms” of the world. It’s definitely been an intellectual process, but also a very personal process because I think it really forces you to figure out where you are in relation to larger social issues,” Mohler said.

One of her most memorable moments came when she took a year off of college between her sophomore and junior years. She met Seattle Storm legend Sheryl Swoopes, who was the first WNBA player to come out as being a lesbian.

As an open lesbian athlete herself, Mohler considers Swoopes an inspiration. “I have always looked highly upon Sheryl because not only is she a great basketball player, but she was the first active player to come out. So I all of a sudden got to know her as Sheryl and not Sheryl Swoopes anymore,” Mohler said.

Laura Mohler has certainly made an impact in her four years at Occidental College. As her senior season comes to a close, she is starting to think about her future both in basketball and in life.

While she will try to pursue a basketball career overseas, she will also pursue other career goals for herself.

Mohler would like to go to law school at some point, and has dreams of being a public defense lawyer where she will once again pursue equality and justice for everyone.

As she moves closer to graduation this May, she is looking to take the Tigers deep into the playoffs and bequeath a legacy of determination and rich tradition.

“No Occidental women’s basketball team has ever made it past the first round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament, so to even make the second round would be a great way to leave,” Mohler said. “That being said, as long as we go out playing our best basketball, I can accept that, too.”

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