Emily Driscoll and Ryan Kaneshiro excel to win The Occidental’s Athlete of the Week

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Emily Driscoll (first year) set new school records in the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke in a swim meet at Claremont Mckenna College Nov. 17. With a time of 57.47 seconds in the 100m back and 2:06.38 in the 200m back, Driscoll helped her team beat Caltech and nearly edge last year’s second-place conference finisher, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

According to Driscoll, this particular meet’s preparation included a few days of lighter training leading up to the competition, which likely contributed to her exceptionally fast times.

“It was just a midseason check-in to see where we were for the season, and I was right on my best times,” Driscoll said. “For a couple of my races, I actually beat my best times, which was really exciting and very unexpected.”

Head coach Steve Webb said that Driscoll’s dedication to her training will continue to translate into impressive results throughout the remainder of the season.

“[What contributed to Emily’s record-breaking performances was] her great work ethic and her desire to get better each day in practice,” Webb said.

The uplifting motivation the swim team brings to practices, weight lifting and meets has played a meaningful part in Driscoll’s first season as a collegiate swimmer, as she said the support her teammates show to one another has had a positive impact on her.

“When I broke the records, everyone on the team came over to congratulate me, and everyone was so sweet about it,” Driscoll said. “This team is truly an incredible team— last year we were voted the loudest at SCIACs, which really shows how supportive we are of each other, and I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the team.”

Striving to further her performance, Driscoll said she will keep devoting attention to the first 15 meters of her race in order to maximize the crucial period of time she spends underwater.

“My swimming is a little different because I do most of it underwater because I’m a backstroker and I kick to the 15 meters,” Driscoll said.“I’m working on a lot of breath control, just seeing in the 200 if I can reach that 15-meter mark every single length.”

Both Webb and Driscoll are hopeful about her ability to place well in the SCIAC championship meet Feb. 24, 2019, and Webb believes that Driscoll’s training has put her well on her way to success.

“We have been working a lot on proper pacing and how many dolphin kicks to take off each wall,” Webb said. “She would like to be All-SCIAC and be able to make the NCAA championship meet.”

Driscoll intends to declare a cognitive science major and public health minor, and if she could sample a course outside of her usual area of study, she would be interested in Greek or Latin.

Ryan Kaneshiro (junior) was named the SCIAC men’s basketball defensive player of the week Nov. 26 as the point guard for the undefeated Occidental squad. In four games, Kaneshiro had only two turnovers and is averaging eight rebounds and seven assists per game.

“The biggest thing for me is controlling the game, not turning the ball over that much, setting up a lot of people, obviously playing defense and taking the shots when necessary,” Kaneshiro said.

Head coach Brian Newhall commended Kaneshiro’s defensive work ethic, attributing a part of Occidental’s cohesion to his unrelenting presence on defense.

“Ryan has earned a reputation as one of the best defensive players in the SCIAC,” Newhall said. “His on-ball and help defense represent the highest level of any DIII defender nationwide.”

Over his past two seasons, Kaneshiro has transitioned from a guard to the point guard position, and he said this transition has allowed him to feel more confident bringing the ball up the floor and handling pressure.

“For the most part, [I’m] just trying to do my best controlling the game and making sure everything is running smoothly,” Kaneshiro said. “So I’m just trying to focus on getting better skill-wise on the offensive side of the ball.”

Kaneshiro’s emphasis on developing his offensive game is clearly reflected in his turnover rate, and according to Newhall, his contributions to the game that extend beyond the stat sheet are what set him above his competitors.

“His assist-to-turnover ratio [7.0 overall] is astounding,” Newhall said. “He does all of the little things that help the team win.”

Coming off of league play last season with the second-best record in SCIAC, the Occidental team retained nearly all of its players, which Kaneshiro said has generated positive team chemistry and maintained the same level of competition that the team ended with last year.

“The thing I’m most proud of is that we haven’t taken any steps back,” Kaneshiro said. “We definitely knew there were expectations and pressure, but it was a good type of pressure. We’re all so locked-in and we’re gelling pretty good, too.”

Although Kaneshiro is quick to credit his teammates for the program’s success, Newhall said his individual SCIAC recognition is well-deserved.

“He is a selfless player who always puts the team first,” Newhall said. “In my 30 years as a head coach, I have rarely coached a more unselfish player.”

Kaneshiro is an economics major and history and politics double-minor, as well as an avid Los Angeles Lakers fan.