Character Recognized at LCHS

Alexi Nazarian was living the dream of a high school athlete in the tail end of the winter sports season. She was captain of the La Cañada High School varsity girls’ basketball team that won more games than any other in the history of the program.
“So much attention was on us, even when we were just walking to class,” Nazarian said. “It seemed like it would never end. The season went on much longer than any of us expected.”
The Spartans wound up playing 34 games over a span of 3½ months, reaching the CIF-Southern Section and State finals and coming away with two runner-up plaques.
Nazarian said it was the most fun she’s ever had at LCHS, and the year became even more memorable during the summer when she received a letter from CIF-SS notifying her that she had won the Dr. Jim Staunton Champions for Character award.
“I had no idea my coaches and athletic director [Kristina Kalb] did this,” Nazarian said. “It really meant a lot to me to know they were the ones who nominated me. I was extremely honored and humbled to get this award.”
Nazarian is the second Spartan to receive the honor, which CIF began 13 years ago. Cross-country runner Seve Rodriguez was recognized as a Champion for Character last fall.
According to CIF, the award is a “way to recognize those athletes who can combine a fierce competitive nature with the six pillars of character: trustworthiness, responsibility, respect, fairness, caring and citizenship.”
Kalb has nominated two LCHS athletes — one boy and one girl — the past two years, and it didn’t take long for her to find a candidate.
“She really stands out,” Kalb said of Nazarian. “She’s a leader on the basketball court during games and during practices, and a leader on campus.”
Nazarian, 16, also stood out on the girls’ basketball roster. Among the three captains on the team, she was the youngest to be given a leadership role.
“She never gives up,” LCHS girls’ basketball coach Sarah Beattie said. “We rely on her as our leader on the floor, and as an emotional leader off the floor. She has a great way with everyone on the team, and girls respect her. They look up to her.”
After a clutch shot or a big miss, Nazarian was always ready to encourage or console a teammate. On the court or along the bench, she would high-five a fellow guard or tell a forward to think about the next play.
“She’s a really important part of the basketball team and a great teammate,” said LCHS senior forward Emma Strobin. “She’s super supportive and very welcoming. She really inspires us to do our best. I remember in our CIF finals games, she talked to us before the game and told us to go out and just do our best. It was a big game for us, and we were all freaking out. She was so calm, and we fed off her energy.”
Nazarian is just as essential off the court, with major contributions to the school’s Athletic Leadership Council, a group of student-athletes that helps direct the positive influence of sports through leadership, spirit and service. Taking a cue from the volleyball program’s annual Dig for the Cure event, Nazarian spearheaded a Hoops for Hope game and helped raise more than $1,000 for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
“Ever since I’ve known her, Alexi has always been a talented athlete and humble human being,” said Kalb, who works closely with the Athletic Leadership Council. “She puts others before herself, and that’s a hard combination to find.”
Nazarian, who was also on ASB last year, is always searching for other ways to give back to the school she loves. As a freshman, she admired the active seniors and began making her mark as a sophomore when she signed up for the ALC.
“I had a brother who was a senior and I had a lot of upperclassmen I looked up to,” she said. “Watching them being involved in so many things sounded like a ton of fun. I met so many amazing people. Meeting new people and doing these activities is just so much fun. At the end of the day, you’re satisfied with yourself and did everything you could.”
There is no sign of senioritis in Nazarian, who remains active in the same organizations and clubs this year and scheduled another Hoops for Hope contest for Jan. 20. She’s also the only second-year captain on the girls’ basketball team this winter.
“In her commitment to the team, to the school and the activities she takes part in, she always puts in 100%,” Beattie said. “I’m so lucky to have her as one of our captains, and I know she’s setting the tone for the younger kids. She’s exactly what we hoped for, and there’s no better example of a leader to look up to.”

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