Brita Loeb (senior) goes to sleep every night cradling a stuffed aromatherapy raccoon at 8 p.m. From eccentric, creative activities to athletic endeavors, Loeb is an active member of organizations in nearly every pocket of campus imaginable. She is the captain of the lacrosse team who also wears vintage dresses and speaks to her cat “Lil’ Sixteen” just as she would speak to any human being. Her housemate Katherine Torrey (junior) calls the combination of these traits, the woven web of these varying identities, the Brita Paradox.
“I kind of like that, when I walk around campus, I’m not that in-your-face lacrosse player and that I can talk about it casually at the Green Bean or represent student athleticism in a different way, because I think some people would be surprised that I do play lacrosse,” Loeb said. “I sort of like having those multiple identities.”
Loeb’s multiple identities include editor-in-chief of the Fang, barista at the Green Bean, Critical Theory and Social Justice major (her senior comprehensive project, which earned distinction, was titled, “Traumatic Affects, The Therapeutic, and Notions of Progress: Combating Institutional Racism at Occidental College with a Public Feelings Movement”) and intern at the Autry. On top of this, she’s a loving member of the “Butthouse” family, a house of Occidental women who watch crime shows and scare their cat with recordings of other cats’ meowing. Loeb defies all categories.
She hails from Mount Kisco, New York, where she grew up putting worms in her pockets and roughhousing with her older brother. Loeb describes her mom — whom she refers to as “cool Loeb” — cleaning the house wearing a fanny pack and listening to a walkman. After playing ice hockey throughout her childhood, the younger Loeb went on to play lacrosse for her high school, The Masters School. She attributes a lot of her success and technical advancement to her coach since her sophomore year at Occidental, Stephanie Janice-Marck. Although Loeb seriously considered quitting during her first year, when lacrosse felt too emotionally and physically taxing, the sport has become her number one commitment as well as her most rewarding and stable activity.
“Being that it’s my last year, I obviously want to perform really well and end on a banger,” Loeb said. “I really enjoy it because I’ve played sports my whole life. I like moving. I like competing and I just have a blast with the team. I’m just super aggressive and super competitive so it works really well with my personality.”
Lacrosse, as John McPhee describes in his New Yorker piece “Spin Right, Shoot Left,” is “football, basketball, and ice hockey in an advanced stage of evolution.” Loeb, to highlight McPhee’s analysis, still maintains that ice hockey is her true calling, and attributes another portion of her achievements in lacrosse to training in the rink. Janice-Marck also describes Loeb as just the sort of player equipped to handle the rigor of the sport.
“This is my eighth year in NCAA coaching,” Janice-Marck said. “[Brita’s] definitely one the top athletes I’ve ever gotten to work with. She does downplay that. She attributes a lot of it to her hockey background.”
But perhaps, lacrosse — a hybrid of many sports as McPhee describes — is the sport most suited to support the kaleidoscope that is Loeb’s personality.
“Brita has two conflicting beings within her: a very creative and brilliant academic personality as well as just very artsy, obsessed with clothing, ridiculous to every extent,” Alessandra Quaroni (senior) co-captain of Occidental’s women’s lacrosse team said. “And then when she’s on the field, she’s very feisty and hard-working and has no fear of pain — she’s just balls-to-the-wall.”
The team is 6-4 this season, which, according to both Janice-Marck and Loeb, has been a disappointment coming off a successful 11-7 2015 campaign. With eight first years on the team, according to Janice-Marck, the team is still struggling to find its identity. Quaroni describes Loeb as an emotionally aware captain, which has specifically helped the new players feel comfortable and confident in their developing abilities. Additionally, Loeb provides comic relief that helps the team shrug off tough losses.
“We had a ‘decades’ themed practice, so your outfit was to tell what decade you came from, and we were gonna practice in it,” Janice-Marck said. “Brita got a double-breasted, tweed men’s pantsuit and she wore that to practice — it’s just so her.”
Loeb’s facetiousness extends beyond the field. Her housemates Maddy Farkas (senior) and Torrey describe her as “the messiest put-together person there is,” as well as, “the most irrational, rational person.” She’s a platinum member at Yogurtland, having spent hundreds of dollars there since September, and keeps a Costco-sized jar of jellybeans readily on hand — although, the licorice flavored ones don’t quite make the cut.
“You’ll just find licorice jelly beans all over the house because she doesn’t throw them away,” Torrey said.
Loeb says this last semester at Occidental is her best semester yet. Butthouse — the name of her off-campus house— and her housemates have played a major role in the stability and general happiness she’s felt at the end of her time here.
“Butthouse culture is … anyone can walk in and sit on our couch and watch ‘Criminal Minds’.” Loeb said. “We’re all just sitting, laughing, talking about how none of us have boyfriends. Someone’s eating a frozen waffle.”
Loeb still has at least nine games with the women’s lacrosse team before she graduates in May. After graduation, Loeb sees herself doing something that includes writing, creativity and social engagement (her friends see her as the next Maria Bamford). She’s a finalist for the Fulbright award, and if granted, she will travel to Mongolia to teach English. Most importantly, she will continue to buy copious amounts of Yogurtland, not caring what anyone else thinks.