Bryn Mawr Athletics
By Emily Feenstra
Unigo Campus Rep at Bryn Mawr
It is a beautiful fall afternoon at Bryn Mawr. The leaves are changing from green to yellow and red, the geese at the duck pond are making a ridiculous ruckus as the sun heads west in the late afternoon sky, casting its nostalgic golden rays across the playing fields. The cheers of maybe thirty soccer fans can be heard on the sidelines as a player heads for the goal.
As you might have guessed, game days simply aren’t an important component of campus life at Bryn Mawr. Our Division III teams practice hard and compete regularly with little incentive other than love of their game. There are no scholarships, and recognition is generally limited to a weekly athlete bio in the Bi-Co News and an end of the year Athletic Banquet.
Senior Cat Bloxsom, a non-athlete, believes that behind this perceived lack of interest lie matters of practicality. She explains quite simply, “I don’t know when the games are and I have a lot of work,” a solid rationale she feels is shared by many other students. Bloxsom thinks that if game schedules were more widely known, students would be more likely to pencil it in to their busy schedules and stop by. As it is, she feels that only friends of athletes know about games, and “they attend because they plan their schedules around it.”
The personal experience of junior Katie Dahl, a member of the crew team, likewise illustrates this lack of attendance at sporting events. Dahl wishes very much that more students supported Bryn Mawr teams.“Having your peers there cheering you on really does help when you're in the heat of things—you hear that roar from the stands and you know that there are people there who believe in you,” she said. She notes that for crew especially, support generally comes from a small smattering of local parents. It’s generally too difficult for students to find transportation to the river where the regattas are held.
Other teams on campus do receive a bit more support than crew, but it is still difficult to pinpoint which one is the most popular. Dahl points the finger at the rugby team, mainly because “The team itself has such a presence on campus.” Bloxsom would guess soccer, reasoning that when she passes by and there is a game, “There are always people from town in lawn chairs on the sidelines.” Senior and fellow crew member Vicki Bryant agrees that soccer is popular, and adds basketball to the mix. In short, there is a definite lack of consensus.
When asked why they continue to compete with so little recognition, Bryant explained that she had never rowed before college, and saw it as an opportunity to try a new sport. Upon reflecting on her decision, she adds, “I love the sport and the people I row with, and can't imagine my college career without it.” Dahl agrees, adding that joining crew was “A way to get regular exercise and meet new people immediately.”
For Dahl and Bryant, athletics at Bryn Mawr aren’t about recognition; they are about personal growth through competition and the joys of being on a team. The dedication of athletes extends beyond immediate gratification, a theme repeated constantly in the Bryn Mawr culture. As they row, run, dribble, and shoot, student athletes learn and grow from themselves and from one another. All the same, a little more support wouldn’t hurt.
Top 10 Things to Know About Bryn Mawr Sports:
1. Walking the stairs of the “Valley of Death” (aka the HUGE flight of stairs) leading to the gym is half the exercise.
2. The Real BMC Sport: how many hours you can go without sleeping.
3. All students must pass a swim test to graduate – may this have lead to the rampant fountain skinny-dipping on campus? (FYI - there are only 10 girls actually on the swim team…)
4. School Cheer: the Anassa Kata chant (… it’s in Greek)
5. Quidditch is real – minus that whole flying thing (look at Merion Green on a weekend around noon or anytime with those funny hoops sticking off of Haffner).
6. Most Popular Winter Sport: Tray-ing (you know… sledding on a dining hall tray?)
7. Most Popular Spectator Sport: Rugby
8. A new gym is being built during the 2009-2010 school year!
9. Best Long Distance Track & Field Event: Duck Pond Run (a rapid race of under 1.5 miles from BMC to the Haverford pond).
10. Best Short Distance Track & Field Events: Parade Night (for freshman), Lantern Night runners (for sophomores), taking over the Senior Steps (for juniors) and the May Day Hoop Race down Senior Row (for seniors).