For many Occidental athletes, their competitive sporting career ends at graduation. Brita Loeb ‘16 may have left the lacrosse field, but rather than hanging up her cleats for good, she replaced them with hockey skates. Loeb and her premiere hockey team, the Los Angeles Lions, won the USA Hockey Women’s Senior C National Championship in Bedford, Massachusetts April 8 after four days of competition.
At Occidental, Loeb was a four-year member of the women’s lacrosse team. As a senior captain, she was named All-Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as well as All-Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaching Association-West Region in 2016 and ended her career with 113 ground balls, 150 draw controls and 59 caused turnovers. According to current Occidental lacrosse captain Sierra Slack (senior), players could feel Loeb’s hustle and tenacity on the field.
“Brita always came to compete, no matter who we were playing,” Slack said. “She was so gritty, and that’s why I loved to play with her. It was also why I hated to play against her during practice.”
While lacrosse kept Loeb busy at Occidental, she also served as the editor-in-chief of The Fang, managed and co-founded the Occidental Sustainable Recycling Program and worked as an intern at The Autry Museum. Additionally, she graduated Cum Laude with honors and distinction with a major in Critical Theory and Social Justice.
“Brita truly embodied the Occidental student athlete who excelled on and off the field,” former teammate Neah Bois (junior) said. “She honestly made an impact throughout our entire campus.”
Loeb cited her mother, Caroline Loeb, as the person who put her on skates at age 3 and encouraged her to play hockey throughout her childhood. Caroline Loeb was a collegiate hockey player and played in women’s leagues while Brita Loeb was a child. Brita Loeb, originally from New York, played competitively until she was 17 years old, when she decided to pursue a collegiate career in lacrosse over hockey.
“I thought about playing hockey every day while I was on the lacrosse field,” Loeb said. “I had an absolutely amazing time playing lacrosse at Oxy, and would do it over again if I could, but there is something about hockey that is addicting.”
After graduating, Loeb looked to fill the competitive void in her life. Immediately after wrapping up her senior season, she started training for a marathon and finished the Los Angeles Marathon with a time of 4:11:16 in March 2017. Although she checked a mark on her bucket list, Loeb felt that she missed being on a team and the camaraderie that comes with it.
“My mom actually was like, ‘Why don’t you play hockey again?’” Brita said. “I started calling around and doing some research and I found this recreational women’s league that plays on Sundays in Panorama City. I met some of the women from there, and they thought I should try out for the LA Lions, which is the select women’s team in the Los Angeles area.”
The LA Lions are a team of 17 women from the LA area. They travel all over the country competing in women’s tournaments. This year, the team traveled to San Jose, Las Vegas and nationals in Massachusetts.
Loeb and the rest of the Lions flew to Boston April 4 and played their first game early the next morning. After a loss in their first national game to the Atlanta Flames, they turned things around with a win in their second game. The Lions fought hard over the next three days, playing multiple doubleheaders and competing against teams with bigger rosters. Entering the tournament as the underdogs from Los Angeles, the Lions ended up competing in the championship game on April 8, beating the team that handed them a loss in the first round of the tournament. The Lions were tied 0–0 in the first period, managed to put two goals in the net in the second period and then were able to hold the Minnesota Blue J Bandits off in the third period to secure their national win. Over the course of the week, Loeb had four assists. She said that she played aggressively all over the ice.
Helping the LA Lions bring home their first-ever national championship was monumental for Loeb, but what she said was most special for her was winning in front of her mother, who has been dealing with terminal cancer.
“I think my mom likes seeing me play hockey more than I ever like playing, which is almost unfathomable because I love playing hockey,” said Loeb. “She has been talking about nationals for the past six months, and then got to see all six games and us win which was awesome. By the end of the week, she knew my whole team and they all knew her.”
Caroline Loeb reciprocated Brita Loeb’s sentiment, citing that having competed at nationals herself, watching her daughter take her spot was all the more special.
“I love the fact that Brita is playing good hockey and it makes me so happy to see her have this experience that I know so well,” Caroline Loeb said. “Brita is just fun to watch. She has this natural aggressiveness, that not everyone has. It is something that is hard to teach. After Brita graduated high school I didn’t think I would get to see her play again, so watching her win a national championship as an adult was amazing.”
Caroline Loeb wore #21 at the national championship in 1983, and Loeb proudly touted her mother’s number throughout the week. After a week of intense hockey, Loeb left Massachusetts with a gold medal and a concussion. Loeb explained that she is looking forward to getting back on the ice soon, after a much needed few weeks off.