Author: Spencer Donaldson
Joe Compagno (Men’s Basketball)
A unique basketball upbringing brought Tiger guard Joe Compagno to where he is today. His father, Steve, coached him at Redwood High School in Larkspur, Calif. and still coaches there today. In fact, Compagno cannot remember a time when his father was not a high school basketball coach. “The dynamic of having a father as a head coach in high school is different and something a lot of people don’t really experience,” he said. “There’s actually a lot of scrutiny that goes with it. So playing through that adversity was a big part of shaping my basketball game.” Even though his dad coached him in high school, it was his brother and mentor, Stevie, who got his basketball career started. Compagno ended his high school career on a high note, averaging 18.3 points per game as a senior and earning All-Metro Bay Area, All-Marin Athletic League and team MVP honors. Compagno has seen double-digit minutes off the bench for Tigers through their first two games.
Haley Graham (Women’s Basketball)
Women’s basketball guard Haley Graham is a self-proclaimed ultimate competitor. Until now, Graham and her sister, fellow Tiger guard-forward Eda Graham (junior), have competed against each other on the court their entire lives. “I like to win; I really like to win,” Graham said. “Even when I’m walking next to a person I try to walk faster than they do.” Unlike her sister, her 6-foot-7 father, who encouraged her to pick up a basketball in the third grade, was a “softie” on the court and used to let her win when she was young girl. Graham did not inherit her father’s “softness,” but she did inherit his height. At 5-foot-11, Graham presents a mismatch for other guards. “I pretty much look like a giant compared to everyone else who’s playing guard right now,” she said. Graham proved her shooting prowess in high school where she shot 42 percent from beyond the arc in her senior year. At Occidental, she wants to improve her offensive mindset and dribbling skills to complement her slasher intensity. Graham’s goals for the team reflect her competitive nature. “Just championship, championship, championship,” she said.
David Avery (Men’s Swimming)
Fifty- and 100-yard freestyle swimmer David Avery is all about going fast. But that was not the case when Avery reluctantly began competitively swimming at age eight. Four years later, he fell in love with swimming and there was no looking back. He was captain of his Oakland, Calif. club swim team for six years and helped his Bishop O’Dowd High School team break the school’s 400-yard freestyle relay record. Avery reminds himself of his personal achievements to stay motivated in the present. “I think back on what I feel after I get a best time,” he said. “I still remember breaking 30 seconds in the 50 free. I remember how awesome it was, and I want to feel that again.” His best swimming comes in race situations rather than in practice, due in part to his short attention span. “Thinking is the enemy normally for me,” he said. Á la Brazilian Olympic gold medalist and 50- and 100-meter freestyle world record holder César Cielo, Avery can be seen punching himself on the chest before the starting gun sounds.
Talia Marcopoto (Women’s Swimming)
A self-described klutz on dry land, sprinter and backstroker Talia Marcopoto tried her hand at a variety of other sports before discovering her niche in the pool in middle school. It is tradition that swimmers in her native Hong Kong start at a relatively young age and often burn out by the time they reach high school. This weeding-out process leaves a select group of elite athletes that participate at a competitive level. Marcopoto was one of the lucky ones and, after a successful visit to Southern California during her senior year, placed Occidental at the top of her college wish list. As a newcomer, Marcopoto has already made an impact for the Tigers with a top-ten finish (1:03.87 minutes) in the 100-yard backstroke at the Redlands Pentathlon. The hardest part of making the leap to the collegiate level has been a rigorous practice schedule, but her teammates have made her transition a smooth one. “[Coming in as a first-year] has been really good,” Marcopoto said. “Practices are challenging; we practice a lot. But the team and [head coach] Shea [Manning] are all really supportive, so I’m getting used to the structure of the team.”
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