Soccer Players Lauren Rodriguez ’25 and Alexandra “Ola” Weber ’24
Team Spirit

Navigating the male-dominated fields of athletics and economics is no easy task, yet two of the College’s women’s soccer players — Lauren Rodriguez ’25 and Alexandra “Ola” Weber ’24 — welcome the challenge with an open heart.

The athletes make it clear that what may come across as effortless talent is the culmination of extensive preparation, determination, and confidence. For them, leadership is not only about having the physical strength to compete. For Weber, who remained on the team despite a career-ending injury sustained during her junior season, being strong means having the ability to “lean into discomfort,” as the midfielder put it.

"I came to realize that leadership is about being present, listening to others, and possessing a genuine passion for what you do,” said Weber.

Soccer Players Lauren Rodriguez ’25 and Alexandra “Ola” Weber ’24
Lauren Rodriguez ’24 with soccer fans
Soccer Players Lauren Rodriguez ’25 and Alexandra “Ola” Weber ’24-1
Alex “Ola” Weber ’24 with family and coaches Amphone Keovongmanysar and Tracey Bartholomew

Weber and Rodriguez play through the Columbia-Barnard Athletic Consortium, a collaboration designed for Barnard athletes to compete alongside Columbia undergraduates in the Ivy League Athletic Conference and NCAA Division 1 Athletics — making Barnard the only women’s college to offer this opportunity.

Both students credit their experience of attending a historically women’s college as a vital source of comfort and empowerment, and they recognize National Girls and Women in Sports Day (February 7) as a way to honor the achievements of female athletes. “It is vital to find the power to ensure our voices are being not only heard but also valued,” said Rodriguez.

They’ve each learned a lot in their roles as student-athletes. Whether they are facing a difficult classroom problem or reeling from a loss on the field, both Weber and Rodriguez know how to extract valuable lessons from failure. Their number-one piece of advice: Keep going.

In the interview below, learn more about how Weber and Rodriguez embody the spirit of National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD).

What does NGWSD mean to you?

Soccer Players Lauren Rodriguez ’25 and Alexandra “Ola” Weber ’24-4
Lauren Rodriguez ’24

Alexandra “Ola” Weber: It is a chance to empower younger generations of female athletes and provide them with role models they can look up to. It is important to recognize and celebrate the achievements of female athletes and acknowledge their hard work, and NGWSD offers that opportunity.

Lauren Rodriguez: For me, this is a celebration of inclusivity. The day showcases an athlete’s talents regardless of their gender, sex, race, and class — further driving and pushing for true equality within sports. This is important for younger generations because it shows that they too can be empowered, have a voice, and be able to achieve their long-term goals in life.

How has your experience as a Barnard student and as an athlete helped build your confidence and leadership skills?

LR: Attending a women’s college that embraces the power women uphold and can enforce has helped me discover my inner self and my voice. I have enhanced my confidence while being at Barnard and learned the weight behind advocating for gender equality across multiple disciplines.

Alex Weber headshot crop
Alex “Ola” Weber ’24

AW: Traditionally, I associated leadership with the person on the field, executing tough tackles, making critical decisions, and consistently motivating others to excel, whether through actions or words of encouragement. However, my perspective evolved as a Barnard student-athlete. I’ve embraced a new understanding of leadership — one that emphasizes that unconventional paths can be just as impactful. Being a leader is not about conforming to conventional norms but being present, attentive, and passionate, thereby inspiring others to follow suit.

How do you push past moments of self-doubt?

AW: I love going on long walks, doing yoga, and talking to my family, all of which keep me grounded in times of stress or self-doubt. I always look to my parents when I am feeling down or feel a lack of confidence in my ability. They remind me that my determination to always be the best is a good thing, but in moderation. I know that I have made my parents proud and for me, that is my greatest accomplishment in life.

LR: I draw upon the resilience I have developed over the years of being a student-athlete and remind myself, “I can do this, and I will do this.” I also seek support from teammates, coaching staff, mentors, and friends to help regain perspective and belief in my capabilities.

What advice would you give to young girls aspiring to pursue sports while balancing academic responsibilities?

LR: To pursue both sports and academics means prioritizing time management and communication skills. It means striking a balance between completing necessary school assignments while also finding time for myself and my friends. I would advise younger athletes to embrace the change and challenges they might face. Change can show us new perspectives and enable us to meet new individuals, while challenges serve as an opportunity to grow and learn.

Soccer Players Lauren Rodriguez ’25 and Alexandra “Ola” Weber ’24
Rodriguez (in the yellow jersey), and her teammates, supporting each other

AW: I used to have such a fear of failure that I would stop just before I started getting good at something. My advice to young girls aspiring to be athletes is to show themselves grace. If we give ourselves grace and patience, we learn that the more uncomfortable we are in the beginning, the greater the feeling will be when we get a task done right. My second piece of advice would be to view teammates as family because that is what they truly are. Almost everything the soccer players did as a team was exponentially more fun and exciting than doing it alone.

How has your experience as an athlete influenced your approach to problem-solving in the field of economics?

AW: Part of why I love economics is that there is a “method to the madness.” I love being able to look at the assumptions of a given model and then analyze real-world circumstances based on it. While the formulaic nature of economics applies to soccer as well, we cannot always capture certain phenomena or the way an opponent will play on any given day. I have learned to adjust to the changes economic models or coaches cannot predict and hope to apply this skill to my upcoming job at Goldman Sachs in their mergers and acquisitions investment banking division. I am super excited to get started and to find solutions for whatever problems I may be faced with.

LR: The qualities of adaptability, teamwork, and open-mindedness that soccer has taught me have bolstered my interest in managerial economics. Within business operations and the management sector, I hope to enact positive changes by encouraging new modes of thinking and fostering collaboration.