From Sagehen To...

Neil Patel '07: Willamette Bearcat

Neil Patel '07 has gone from being a student athlete to coaching them. Patel was hired as the head coach for the men's tennis team at Willamette University.

Patel graduated from Pitzer with a BA in economics and Political Studies, and honors in both majors. He played for the Pitzer-Pomona tennis team for four years, placing #1 in doubles and #3 in singles play. In 2007 Patel was Division III Doubles All-American and finished the season ranked #10 in the country in doubles. He was also named Pitzer's Most Outstanding Male Athlete this spring. “My years on the team really changed my life,” Patel said.

One moment in particular that stood out for Patel was last year when the Sagehens played Pacific Lutheran College. “They came down to the ‘Hen House’ and we went out there and demolished them 7-2,” Patel said. “It was an old-school Sagehen stomp and it was amazing to see our team rise up against a higher ranked team.”

Patel sees his age proximity to his players as an asset, helping him relate to their concerns as athletes and students. “I can understand the pressures of going to an academically challenging school and trying to balance that with a sport,” Patel said. “I think Pitzer allowed me to have that experience and now I can better understand my players.”

—JESSICA SCHWARTZ '08

David Knowles '07: Wolfenbüttel Duke

David Knowles '07 signed with the Wolfenbüttel Dukes to play professional basketball in Germany's Second Division Pro B league. Knowles, who plays point guard, began regular season with the Dukes in September.

“Playing pro ball here in Germany is great because in this particular city and area it is basketball that is more popular than even soccer,” Knowles said. Wolfenbüttel is located in north central Germany, approximately fifty miles east of Hanover and two hours west of Berlin.

Knowles is grateful for the opportunity he had to play on the Pitzer-Pomona basketball team and believes that this experience greatly prepared him for a professional basketball career after college. “Having a chance to be guided by Head Coach Charles Katsiaficas changed my perspective on the game and made me a better player and potential coach myself,” he stated. Knowles, who was named team MVP, received the Judi and Frank Fenton Athletic Leadership Award this spring and previously received the 2005-06 Daley Athletic Achievement Award.

A Political Studies major and sociology minor, Knowles notes that his Pitzer College education provided him with a “level-headed” perspective by which to approach his experience abroad. “I believe Pitzer has stirred in me a desire to take advantage of this situation by learning as much as possible— soaking up the cultural experience and using it all to further myself and my ability to contribute positively to our global society,” he continued.

Knowles' current career goal is to continue playing basketball for as long as possible and to learn foreign languages. Eventually, he would like to coach basketball or start his own sports agency or management group made up of friends and fellow 5C graduates.

—EMILY CAVALCANTI