If you’ve attended a sporting event at Occidental this year, you’ve likely seen seniors Anya and Greta Conlon shouting statistics at each other, setting up the field or perched atop the broadcasting booth. The Conlon twins are student assistants to the Athletic Department’s Sports Information Director, Michael Wells.
For roughly ten hours a week, the two are responsible for making sure the home games start promptly, have accurate statistics and in-game information and are cleaned up afterward. Some Saturdays, the two run between setting up a lacrosse game, to scorekeeping on the baseball field, to clean-up after a water polo game. Fortunately, there are usually about five other student workers at each game lending the Conlons a hand.
As first years, Anya and Greta found employment with the athletic department’s game management. Four years later, the soft-spoken twins from Portland, Ore. are the secret weapons of Occidental’s athletic department, ensuring every Tigers’ home game runs smoothly. Their duties extend beyond concessions, field set-up and scorekeeping. The Conlons have also mastered software programs that allow them to keep track of game statistics and live-stream the action.
Although integral to Occidental athletics, the Conlons’ work is often lost in the action of the sports games they put on.
“I honestly don’t usually notice them that much [at games],” Hannah Wagner (sophomore), a member of the volleyball team and track and field teams, said. “But they were at pretty much every game for the four hours or more. People aren’t really appreciative, but I’m sure they deserve more credit than we give them.”
Wells draws parallels to the work of Greta and Anya and that of a student-athlete.
“I think what’s very interesting about Greta and Anya is that, like a four-year athlete, they’ve been heavily involved in our program; helping us provide fair athletic contests and a first-class experience for our student-athletes,” Wells said. “Their contributions are often never seen, but their impact on Oxy athletics has been incredibly valuable.”
The Conlons’ work has allowed athletics to operate with efficiency that normally could not be reached.
“As a Division III program, we don’t have the budget to hire 20 non-student adults so we rely on student labor that is paid through federal work study,” Wells said. “At Oxy, we have terrific students and Greta and Anya are a perfect example of that. They essentially run and manage all of our home sporting events.”
Though exhausting at times, the twins enjoy the energy and action of their work.
Greta’s favorite sport to work is football because it usually draws an abundance of fervent fans. Anya’s similar love for football games comes from a different type of energy she gets to experience in Jack Kemp Stadium. If your eyes have ever wandered up during a game, you may have seen her perched atop the press box furiously inputting scores into a computer.
“I have the defensive and offensive coordinators on either side,” Anya said. “So, I can hear all their strategies, hear all of the plays and I can look out and see all of the fans. It’s a good time.”
Greta’s only regret is having only been able to attend about three games as a fan throughout her time at Occidental.
“When you’re sitting at the table, you’re supposed to be pretty neutral,” Greta said. “So that’s one downside, I didn’t really get the college fan experience. But I don’t regret working. I’ve loved working.”
Despite the occasional monotony of working in sports, Anya has found solace in her work with athletics.
“Definitely some games are tedious, and sometimes you want to do other things,” Anya said. “But I consistently would be excited to go to work. It was a break from academics, and I’ve made a lot of friends.”
During basketball season, the Conlons can be found at the scorer’s table in Rush Gym, keeping statistics on the sidelines. Basketball is particularly fast-paced and one twin is usually yelling code describing the action while the other is inputting it into a computer.
Some twin telepathy may have helped them in Rush Gymnasium.
“We have also always been able to anticipate what each other is thinking,” Anya said. “Which has definitely proved helpful in terms of efficiency during setup or when the programs wouldn’t work and we had to do last-minute troubleshooting to make sure everything was up and running by game time.”
When not shagging balls at soccer games or dedicating eight-hour-days to baseball games, the Conlon twins can usually be found studying together in the common room of Berkus House, in the Occidental rat laboratory (Greta) or interning off-campus (Anya).
Neither twin has an interest in entering the sports management field after they graduate. Anya, a biology major, is interested in public health and Greta, a psychology major, may want to build on her research experience in the rat lab.
“I can’t remember a time where they were ever upset or not positive,” Wells said. “Whether it’s medicine, sports, psychology or whatever they end up doing, I’m betting they’ll be at the top of their fields.”