Athletics at Carleton
By Aron Feingold
Unigo Campus Rep at Carleton College
Carleton is renowned for its stellar academics and intellectually engaging atmosphere, but athletics are also an important part of campus life. While it may seem difficult to meet the high academic demands of classes in addition to the huge commitment of participating in varsity sports, John Hanks, a senior chemistry major who plays defensive end for Carleton’s Varsity football team said that it is, “A good supplement to be an athlete in addition to such an academically rigorous environment. It helps you broaden your personality, helps you with time management skills and you get to meet a lot of people.”
Sophie Wood, a senior English major and center back for the varsity women’s soccer team also discussed the social perks of being an athlete at Carleton. Although it may seem that a demanding academic and athletic schedule would eat into your social life, Wood said that, “It is the best thing ever [to have] an instant group of thirty friends. It’s nice walking around campus and seeing your teammates and talking about your games. Just being dedicated to something for four years, it’s kind of like my identity. I’m a soccer player; people know I’m a soccer player.”
While the close knit and intimate relationships formed among Carleton student athletes enhances their experience, non-athletes sometimes feel alienated from athletes. Erika Huckestein, a junior history major who is not involved in sports at Carleton said, “I don’t feel like I know that many athletes because they all hang out together, so when I meet an athlete it’s in my classes. When they’re so busy with their sports, you don’t see them around campus much. I have a lot of respect for athletes here [though] because I know they have so much going on but they’re still expected to do as much work as me.”
Hanks explained that he doesn’t feel as if students or professors treat him any differently just because he’s a football player. “Everyone’s pretty gifted here in some way, shape, or form, so I wouldn’t say athletic prowess gives you any advantage over anything else because everyone is so well-rounded.”
Megan La Chapelle, a senior English major who plays the left side on the volleyball team, agreed with Hanks that she doesn’t feel that people view her differently because she’s an athlete, but did note that many of her professors are volleyball fans and have watched her on the court before having her in class. “It’s just another connection and bond that I might have with a professor,” she explained.
While most varsity athletes agree that playing sports at Carleton has undoubtedly made their college career more enjoyable, there is some disagreement about the support and involvement of the community during athletic events. Hanks noted that the large crowd at Homecoming football games and the dance routine during halftime excites him and helps him feel supported. Additionally, rather than having cheerleaders, a group of around fifteen “cheerboys” attend all of Carleton’s home football games. They wear Carleton colored war paint, lead the stands in cheers for the team, and complete a lap around the periphery of the field whenever Carleton scores a touchdown. However, Wood does not feel the same support for her women’s soccer team.
Although student athletes take Carleton sports very seriously, they also enjoy fun and often quirky rivalries with other MIAC teams, especially with cross-town rival St. Olaf College. For example, before the women’s soccer games against Olaf, they dress up in eccentric clothing and serenade the men’s soccer team with a fight song. The football team also participates in a long lasting tradition where they exchange a “goat trophy” and a “cereal bowl trophy” with the Olaf team depending on who won that year’s game. Additionally, there is an eagle sculpture in Bridge Square in Northfield that is turned to face whichever campus won that year’s football game between Olaf and Carleton.
Athletics unequivocally enrich the lives of student athletes at Carleton, but the community’s general support of athletics teams is sometimes questioned, but they are respected on campus nonetheless. If you choose to be a varsity athlete at Carleton, you’ll have a blast. And, if not, you can always become a fan.