Captains’ Corner: Alyza Ngbokoli ’17

Alyza Ngbokoli ’17. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

Team:

Women’s track and field

Hometown:

Yonkers, N.Y.

Residence:

Horn Hall

Default snack bar order:

An Egg McWilliams with sausage, provolone cheese and an egg over-hard

How do you pronounce your name?

I get that all the time [Laughs.]. A-lee-za Ba-coal-ee. The first two letters of my last name are silent.

What was your running experience before coming to the College?

I ran – not really competitively – in middle school when you had to choose a sport to do. I thought, “Why not run track?” All my friends are telling me I’m fast.’ I was on the track team from sixth grade through eighth grade, and I started hurdling, which is my specialty, during my freshman year of high school, and I’ve been doing that until now. In high school, I played soccer in the fall and ran indoor and outdoor track in the winter and spring. I honestly think that the fact that track took up two seasons, whereas soccer took up only one, is what made me love track more.

At what point did you realize that you wanted to run in college?

Junior year, I was one of four captains of my high school track team, which was completely unexpected. I was voted captain again senior year and taking that leadership role made me realized how much I’d loved the sport, and it made me want to continue in college.

Why did you eventually decide to enroll at the College?

Even though it’s Div. III, a lot of the athletes take track very seriously, but it doesn’t interfere with schoolwork. Out of all the schools I applied to, the College had the best balance between academics and athletics, though it had a greater focus on academics. But that was what I wanted – what drew me most to the school was, as cliché as it sounds, the community. I liked the track team and the people that I stayed with when I visited.

What’s it like to run for Head Coach Nate Hoey?

Coach Hoey was actually new when I was a first-year, so we’ll be his first graduating class of seniors, which is pretty cool. He’s awesome. The year before I came here, the coaching staff was transitioning. Then, when Coach Hoey got here, he really transformed the team. He’s sent athletes to Nationals every year he’s been here, and he won USTFCCCA New England Regional Coach of The Year in 2014. He’s such a fatherly figure, and I really appreciate that part of him.

What’s it like to be captain of such a big team?

It’s hard, but the other captains I work with make it a lot easier and more fun. There are three other women’s captains and five men’s captains. The men’s and women’s teams  train together, and when you combine the teams, we have 110 people, so we need nine captains. Because there are so many of us, we can’t all agree on everything but working with them makes it more fun.

What are your favorite moments from your track career? What are you most proud of?

There are so many because I love my team so much. My best friends are on this team. I’m grateful because I wouldn’t have met any of these people otherwise. My proudest was when I was voted captain. I’d say my favorite would be our April Fools’ prank last year. April Fools’ Day is always on our spring break trip. Every year, we plan an April Fools’ joke that goes terribly. Last year, we planned one that kind of worked. The night before, we looked up the names of Coach Hoey’s old teammates. Our plan was to integrate those names into our conversations throughout the day and see if he would notice. He noticed pretty quickly, but it was really funny. We would say things like, ‘I was hanging out with D.J. Flick last night.’ We would do this on the van to practice, and he would look in the mirror and make a face. He eventually called us out for it, and we had a good laugh.

What were some of the other pranks you’ve pulled? When do you think you’ll start planning for this year’s April Fools’?

I’m already contemplating for this year [Laughs.]. My sophomore year, we all hid in a shed when our coaches were parking the van. My freshman year, we were doing our warmup, and three-quarters into the lap we all collapsed in the middle of the track and pretended we’d all tripped on top of each other and had gotten really hurt. So for five minutes, we were lying on the floor and just screaming for no reason.

What is your major?

I am a psychology major with a certificate in French and a concentration in Africana studies.

What are some other things you do on campus?

I work in security as a switchboard operator, so if you call the College, I’m the one that picks up. I’ve also done a lot of work in the community, specifically at Brayton Elementary School, Greylock Elementary School and Capeless Elementary School in Pittsfield. I worked at Mohawk Forest Apartments, an affordable housing project in North Adams, the summer after my sophomore year, and whenever it fits into my schedule I try to go back to hang out and play with the kids there.

What are your goals for the outdoor season?

My team goals for the spring are to win NESCACs and win Div. IIIs, but personally I want to have fun this season. Especially as a senior, I don’t want track to be a burden. I want it to be something I enjoy, and so far it has been.