Taryn Ng (senior) is a four-year starting defender and three-year captain for Occidental’s women’s soccer team, but she almost never suited up for the Tigers in the first place. Her belated decision to join the team is one that has so vastly shaped her college experience that she has trouble imagining life without it.
Now, Ng recalls her first college game as one of the most memorable experiences of her Occidental soccer career.
“It wasn’t like a spectacular game or anything, but it was just really exciting,” Ng said. “And it was like finally solidifying the feeling of being on a college team, which I really liked.”
Ng hails from Milpitas, California, and was introduced to soccer as a child as a result of her father’s good intentions.
“My dad forced me to play at five years old,” Ng said. “He thought I needed to get into some extracurriculars, so I had to choose between karate and soccer, and I chose soccer.”
Though soccer has always been her primary sport, Ng previously participated in both gymnastics and basketball. She gave up the former after three years due to the time commitment required, and the latter due to a self-proclaimed lack of skill.
She has come a long way from her first game at Occidental, and has since been recognized as one of the best defenders in the league, according to women’s soccer head coach Colm McFeely.
“She is tough to beat in any one-on-one dual, displays excellent composure on the ball and in challenges and has developed her leadership qualities over her years as captain,” McFeely said via email. “We will find her hard to replace.”
Taryn is respected by coaches and teammates alike for her dependability on and off the field.
“Having played in the back four with Taryn for three years now, I have so much faith in her skills on the field,” defender Abigail Mitchell (senior) said. “She consistently wins balls in the back and can instigate an aggressive counterattack.”
Ng’s experiences working with both teammates and coaches have taught her valuable life lessons. In addition to developing perseverance and time-management skills, Ng feels as though she has grown as a leader, learning how to work with people of differing personalities and ideas.
“She leads so well by example, and has been a dedicated captain and role model for everyone,” defender Stephanie Welty (senior) said.
Although Ng devotes, in her estimation, close to 15 hours per week to soccer, she finds that managing her time as both an athlete and student is not as challenging as she initially thought it would be.
“When I first came to college I had a lot more free time than I ever thought I would,” Ng said. “So it was kind of nice having soccer to kind of force me to manage my time better and be more productive with the time I did have to do work.”
Despite having soccer and work for her biochemistry major to keep her busy, Ng enjoys reading in her downtime. Lately, though, she has been partaking in what she describes as “brain-dead activities” such as watching TV shows. American Horror Story is a particular favorite.
What downtime she does have is further reduced by additional responsibilities as a teaching assistant for the chemistry department and as the social recruitment chair of Alpha Chi Sigma, the professional chemistry fraternity. However, she values the sense of community she obtains from surrounding herself with people of the same academic interests.
“We get to do different philanthropy events,” Ng said. “Recently we did a Boy Scout chemistry merit badge, where we went out and helped run experiments and tutorials for these nine to 12-year-old kids, and it was a lot of fun.”
On top of this, Ng is working on her senior comprehensive project: researching biosynthesis as an alternative production method for artemisinic acid, a key component in malaria treatment. Though naturally produced in the plant Artemisia annua, natural production of artemisinin is unreliable, according to Ng. Hence, the need for an alternative production method—biosynthesis. Ng chose this topic out of an interest in both biosynthesis and infectious diseases.
“I believe this type of research opens a lot of doors for the biosynthesis of many other pharmaceuticals and can have a largely positive impact on the availability of drugs and the health industry as a whole,” Ng said via email.
She plans on attending graduate school in the future to pursue either pharmaceutical studies or another field relevant to public health, but will first be taking a gap year.
“I want to travel,” Ng said. “I really want to go to Thailand or New Zealand—those are my top two—and basically get a job, get some experience in whatever industry I decide, and figure out if that’s really the path I want to take.”
While eager to embark on the adventures of her post-graduation gap year, Ng acknowledges that there are certain aspects of college life she would rather not leave behind.
“Having all of my friends around me, like 24/7, I’ll definitely miss that,” Ng said. “My parents being able to support me all the time—I’ll miss that too. I’ll miss playing soccer.”
Although her soccer career ended last weekend after Occidental fell just shy of reaching the SCIAC postseason with a 2-1 loss at Redlands, she has no intention of ending the friendships she has made through the sport anytime soon.
“Taryn is great,” midfielder Karina Garcia (senior) said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better in a roommate, teammate and best friend.”