veritas exquirere


veritas exquirere


veritas exquirere


OPHS CIF-SS Athletes of the Year

Seniors Emaline Alikian and Drew Koval were nominated for their athletic and academic excellence.

After four years of dedication and diligence, CIF-SS recognizes Emaline Alikian and Drew Koval as Oak Park High School’s Athletes of the Year. Additionally, they have also been chosen to be the Athletes of the Semester for their hard work, good sportsmanship and leadership in their respective sports.

Emaline Alikian: Girls Flag Football, Girls Soccer, Girls Lacrosse

Emaline Alikian has been the varsity captain of girls flag football, soccer and lacrosse teams. Her athleticism has shined through her role in flag football which helped kick off this year’s program. She led the team to their first title as league champion with a final record of 6-2. 


“I feel really good about it. I mean it’s always nice to be recognized for something you’ve worked extremely hard for,” Alikian said. “I personally feel acknowledged because to me it seems colleges don’t really value sports and how hard it is to balance and how much commitment it is unless you’re actually committing there to play.”

Throughout her high school career, Alikian had many factors that kept her motivated in academics and athletics. 

“I’ve always loved learning but if we’re being honest a lot of high school is studying for a test or a grade. I think everyone’s motivation for academics is their future (and also pride) and although I enjoy learning, I would be lying if I didn’t say the same,” Alikian said. “For sports, I really have always thrived on the field. I have always felt that I function better in school when I get the adrenaline and exercise from sports. It’s easier to sleep when you’re both mentally and physically tired. I’ve also made almost every one of my friends through sports and it’s the main place I socialize. Sports have always been fun in my life and there really isn’t any other motivation. I just love it.”

In every journey, there are setbacks. For Alikian, the biggest obstacle she has faced is her foot injury earlier this year. 

“I had overused it during flag football season and in the very first game of my last soccer season it just kind of gave up and I can’t even pinpoint when it happened. Suddenly it hurt bad when I ran, and another 30 seconds of trying to play through it made it very clear that it wasn’t a little twisted ankle,” Alikian said. 

This injury prevented her from playing but led her to support her teammates on the sidelines. Unfortunately, this made her miss the final soccer season of her high school career. 

“I had surgery the week before first semester finals and I genuinely don’t remember even taking them now because of how out of it I was. My mind felt cloudy because I couldn’t get any of my energy out,” Alikian said. “We also went so far in playoffs for soccer that I was able to play the last two games even though I probably shouldn’t have and found out later that that caused another minor stress fracture. Looking back now it’s hard for me to remember how obnoxious it was to not be able to walk, but I do remember how hard it was on my mind to not be able to exercise.”

Despite her setbacks, Alikian pushed through her last year of high school and all the hard work has paid off. The biggest advice that she would give after her experience is being efficient. 

“Work hard at practice but don’t practice too much. Study hard and focused but don’t study too much,” Alikian said. “There is no point in studying for 6 hours if you aren’t comprehending anything. Let yourself rest and then dedicate your full attention for thirty minutes or an hour to that subject. Same with sports. Being efficient is the most important part of being a student-athlete.”

Drew Koval: Boys Tennis

As captain of the varsity boys tennis team, Koval played as the first seed for singles. He dominated the league portion of the season and helped lead the team to CIF this year. His energy and motivation bring up the team’s spirit as they head into their CIF matches.

“I’m super happy about being recognized as one of the CIF-SS athletes of the year,” Koval said. “It’s great to see that all the hard work and hours of training that I’ve been putting in for years is finally paying off.”

For Koval, his motivation to excel in both areas came from different things. 

“I have always been pretty self-motivated, wanting to be the best at whatever I do, whether that be my academics or tennis, so that helped a lot,” Koval said. “Another piece of motivation was my parents, as they helped and pushed me in both these areas. The last piece of motivation was probably my brother, as me and I grew up being competitive in everything, so I was always motivated to try to do as good as him and maybe even beat him in both tennis and school.”

Throughout Koval’s tennis career, there have been many challenges for him to overcome. 

“In the first semester of my junior year, I had just recovered from a 9 month groin injury and was playing some of my best tennis,” Koval said. “Additionally, I was starting to talk to a bunch of college coaches who seemed to show interest. However, I soon hurt my left wrist badly, something which has taken over a year for me to fully recover from. Because of this, I could not hit backhands but could do everything else which caused me to keep training and playing tournaments, where I’d lose over and over again and destroyed all my confidence.”

Leading to some college coaches losing interest, which also lowered Koval’s confidence in playing college tennis.

“It took a huge mental toll on me and placed an unbelievable amount of stress to do well in my classes,” Koval said. “This low point in my career caused me to reflect and realize that no matter how upset I was I can’t let it get in the way.” 

He persevered through the stress and started to play incredible tennis, which helped him reach his final goal. This year, Koval has signed to play collegiate tennis at the University of Washington St. Louis and will continue his academic career studying mechanical engineering. 

After his four committed years at OPHS, Koval gives his biggest piece of advice from his journey. 

“The main piece of advice I’d give other student-athletes is to genuinely believe in yourself if you want to succeed. If you don’t believe in yourself and don’t think that you can reach your goals/dreams, then what makes you think other people will? The more confidence you have, the more successful you will be.”

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Jessica Qi
Jessica Qi, Sports Editor
Lily Huynh
Lily Huynh, Editor-in-Chief
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