Community Service with Track and Field

Last month I had the chance to take part in some awesome community service activities with my track and field teammates. The Women’s Track and Field team volunteered at the Special Olympics. This year we were in charge of cheering for the athletes during their different races and walks. It was a beautiful yet surprisingly cold day, but despite the chilling winds the athletes were pumped and ready to go. We had a blast cheering on the participants of the 5k and 3k and it was clear that they were having so much fun.

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Squash champions

This past weekend, Haverford’s women’s squash team packed up our squash rackets and headed up to New Haven, Connecticut for the college national tournament. After months and weeks of practice and games, we were excited to have the opportunity to play in this tournament.

We had qualified E Division and after winning all of our round-robin matches, we moved onto the championship match to compete for the big win. The night before the match, I could barely sleep. Come Sunday morning, when we won our division championships, all of the work that my teammates had put in paid off.

The squash team and athletics have been a big part of my life at Haverford; with practice everyday, we have all dedicated a lot of time to our sport and I’ve quickly become close with many of my teammates. Yet despite the time commitment required by sports, Haverford athletes have a way of balancing their time here so that their sport is not the only part of their life here. For example, many varsity athletes are involved in extracurricular activities like Honor Council, Student Council, and all of our student-led clubs on campus. In addition, there are no classes offered during practice times, 4:00pm and 7:00pm, to ensure that athletes aren’t excluded from taking certain classes. At Haverford, no one has to choose between being a student, an athlete, or a member of our student community.

All of the practice, workouts, and time spent preparing for the matches were rewarded by the title of E Division Champions.  But coming back to Haverford, exhausted from the weekend, we were not alone in our excitement; we were welcomed back as squash players, as friends, and as members of the Haverford community.

 

Catching Up…

Well it’s been a bit, and a lot has transpired. To facilitate the most efficient and accurate summation of this past month and a half (sorry guys) I’m going to descend into a bit of a stream of consciousness. Let’s see how this goes…

October brought the usual flurry of papers and midterms, but it also brought my family over from Seattle. Whilst here, I joked that they had a quintessential Haverford experience. First, we had dinner at the very delicious and local Peruvian Barbeque restaurant, Barbacoa. The family platter, complete with a whole roast chicken, pulled pork, ribs, and 2 pounds worth of sides, sufficed in feeding us all. So good. The next morning, we had bagels with my advisor and her family (she conveniently lives on campus, as do about half of our professors); my dad, a professor himself, joked that this would never happen at our house. Well, dear Papi, this is how we do it at Haverford. It was a thoroughly enjoyable brunch, with conversation ranging in topics from digitized course offerings to Boobah (look it up if you dare – I’ll just say it’s fitting for a three year old’s imagination). Next up, the fam and I watched our Centennial Conference champion men’s soccer team take on Gettysburg, whisked our way through a field hockey game, and gabbed with my friends from my freshmen year Customs group. And to conclude, we made the obligatory stop at WaWa for subs…

Hurricane Sandy punctuated October’s end, closing the college for two days. The campus was extraordinarily lucky and managed to escape any real damage. We lost power for maybe an hour in sum, and the only physical effect was some excessive pine needle blanketing. Our campus arboretum stood strong, and classes were back in swing on Wednesday. Those two days brought some welcome extra hours of sleep, movie marathons, and lots of parental phone calls (my dad called every other hour, though he insisted he wasn’t worried about me). Those phone calls weren’t unnecessary, as it turned out, and my friends and I were aware of how devastating the storm really was. The college has come together and many students are proposing various avenues for the Haverford community to aid those affected. Here’s the link for those interested:

www.haverford.edu/news/stories/65711/51

…Soon after, Gloria Steinem was on campus! I don’t throw exclamation points around often, but Gloria Steinem was seriously incredible. She shared a lot of simultaneously inspirational, insightful, and often satisfyingly sarcastic musings. My favorite? “We are linked, not ranked.” The societal (and feminist) implications of this statement are massive and incredibly important, but it really resonated with me as a Haverford student. This is something that the college really tries to embody, in the ways in which the student voice is, essentially, just as important as the administrative one, to our heavily discussion-based classrooms, to the interconnectedness of our alumni network. This isn’t a college predicated on hierarchy, and it’s one of the aspects of Haverford that I appreciate the most. Thank you, Gloria, for a wonderful visit and reminding me of yet another reason why I adore this college…

The election kicked the college into high voting gear. All partisanship aside, I’ve never seen so many Facebook statuses in my life telling everyone to vote. Various groups on campus set up voter registration tables, students were shuttling students to and from the local polling places all day, and sorry professors, absolutely no homework got done on Nov. 6; we were all glued to various screens. I made a huge pot of chili for my friends and myself, and we all huddled around my laptop, flitting between CNN and old SNL clips, as we awaited results. The election ended many group viewing sessions of debates, lots of late night political discussions, and canvassing by Haverford students… until the next four (more) years!

…Amongst all this, our fall sports teams were fantastic, bringing home half of the available Centennial Conference championships! Again, note the exclamation point. Both soccer teams, as well as our Men’s Cross Country teams were crowned champions this year, with Field Hockey and Women’s Cross Country winning second place, and our Volleyball team making the semi-finals before falling to the eventual champion, Franklin and Marshall. Those championships meant NCAA’s, so I decided to take all three extension days on one of my papers and head to Arcadia University for the Men’s Soccer games. There were so many Haverfordians there, from tons of students, to very vocal families, to professors and deans. We didn’t have any national championships (though the Men’s Cross Country team was close! 2nd place – congratulations, Goats!), but the whole college is so proud of all of our teams. Well done, well done, black squirrels!

The coffee I’ve been sipping as I’ve been writing is almost gone, so I guess it’s time to conclude. The holidays are upon us, and that means it’s getting to be crunch time at the college. Bring on those finals! But also, bring on that holiday music; I’m going to listen to Mariah Carey and relish my remaining few weeks of Haverford life until Winter break. Cheers, everyone!

In Case You Didn’t Believe Me…

To follow up on my most recent post:

Yesterday, my friends and I embarked on a road trip to Johns Hopkins University to watch our Fords play in the Men’s Soccer Centennial Conference Championship!  Did I mention that my friends numbered over 200 and included fellow varsity teams, alumni, and former president Steve Emerson?  Like I said, we Haverfordians take our fan support extremely seriously.  Our boys may not have brought home the championship, but the Haverford fans certainly outnumbered (and outcheered) our rivals.  I am so incredibly proud of the soccer squad, and I can’t wait to cheer them on again come next season.  Go Fords!

Let’s Go Fords!!! (and other exclamations!)

October’s passing brings the end of midterms, freak snowstorms, and the Centennial Conference playoffs!  Yowza!  This past week has been a sports fan’s (i.e. my) dream; since Sunday, Haverford has seen two men’s soccer games, two women’s soccer games, two field hockey games, and two volleyball games – all at the heels of men and women’s cross country Centennial Conference championship meets.  Whew!

Here are the facts: the Women’s Cross Country team finished second in the Centennial cross-country championship; their male counterparts captured the championship in their respective meet; Men’s Soccer advanced to the playoffs after a 2-1 victory over Swarthmore College and followed with a 3-2 win over Franklin and Marshall College to move onto the Centennial Conference Semi-Finals; Women’s Soccer won their playoff contest 3-0 to advance to the semi-finals; Field Hockey came back to defeat Washington College 3-2 and secure a spot in the conference semi-finals; Volleyball defeated Swarthmore in 4 sets to advance alongside their other varsity fall teams.  Huzzah!

I may be expected to blog about the (obvious) excellence of the Haverford athletic family, and while I certainly could, www.haverfordathletics.com and www.centennial.org will certainly provide ample evidence.  Observe:

Instead, I’d like to emphasize the community focus this college has when it comes to athletics.

My customs group (that’s a whole other blog post… for now, read: freshmen hall) last year had an uncharacteristically high quota of varsity athletes – nine of sixteen freshmen played for a varsity squad*.  As a result, I have a lot of friends in several different sports to go and support.  Hence, this semester, I’ve been a frequent visitor of Swan and Walton fields, our field hockey and soccer fields, respectively, and my computer screen – many centennial conference contests can be viewed on live streams.  This has been true for other members of my customs group; we really do want to support our friends in a huge aspect of their lives at Haverford – no matter the weather.  The snowstorm did eventually cancel/delay the sporting events of last weekend, but I was still fully prepared to spend an afternoon in some snowy stands!

Now, think of my customs group as a microcosm for the college.  Everyone had a customs group, and everyone has some sort of connection to a varsity athlete.  Consequently, you get a community committed to supporting their peers in their athletic endeavors.  This community, remember, includes Haverford faculty as well; it’s a fairly regular occurrence to see professors, especially former president Steve Emerson, hooting and hollering along with students at athletic events.  Woo!

I didn’t specifically look at athletic caliber when sifting through undergraduate programs, but as a huge sports buff, I knew I would be a frequent spectator to athletic happenings.  Sporting events become infinitely more entertaining and enjoyable with the company of other fanatic viewers, and the supportive nature of this college makes for such an environment.  Watching sports really is a stress reliever for me, and I always leave sporting events in high spirits – even if Haverford loses.  Why?  Because fan support is one of the most obvious manifestations of the pride Haverfordians have for their community.  Go Fords!

 

*This is not indicative of the entire college community; about a third of the campus plays a varsity sport.

 

Following your favorite team

These days on campus, we’ve been making a huge deal about two things: the unexpected snowfall and our incredibly successful fall sports teams. All of the excitement and clamor about our playoff-bound teams, though, mirrors the way many students feel about professional or other collegiate teams which they follow passionately!
 
Students come to Haverford from all over the country and the world, and I’m always reminded of that when I compare athletic allegiances. As a relatively local student, I am naturally a Phillies, Flyers, Eagles, and Sixers fan (in that order), but there’s a wrinkle in my affinities. My entire family is from the greater New York area going way back, so I was raised on Yankee baseball – and continue to be a huge fan. This dual loyalty made the 2009 world series both a win-win and a lose-lose, but I really was just the luckiest baseball fan ever! My team affinities are on proud display in my room – instead of posters and wall hangings, I mostly hang up different jerseys or t-shirts, which makes for a surprisingly colorful and well-decorated room (in my opinion).
 
But what I most enjoy is talking, watching, and debating sports with other people on campus. It’s not exactly the largest school, so if you go to the same places to watch your team’s games, you learn quickly who the other fans are. There is a pretty good contingent of Philadelphia fans, and I can count on seeing them in the Coop or in Ryan Student Center for any big game, but the people I want to dedicate this post to are the more isolated ones who make their voices heard.

 So much of the freshman Customs experience is about learning your hallmates’ interests, hobbies, and discussing pretty much any topic. Well I learned right away in my first year that one of my hallmates just loved Melky Cabrera, the former Yankee and current Royal, no matter how poorly the MelkMan played. Another friend was a devout follower of advanced sabermetrics, and greeted any Ryan Howard home run or Raul Ibanez double I celebrated with a snarky but knowledgable comment about the player’s awfully low WAR (Wins Above Replacement player – essentially, how many wins the player earns his team above average) was, and how embarrassingly overpaid he was.

I’ve cheered and jeered loudly against friends of mine who come from all over the US – Cleveland, Buffalo, Seattle, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, St. Louis, Washington D.C., and Boston, just to name the ones that come to mind – in the name of friendly competition and team spirit. And let’s be honest – there’s nothing in the Honor Code that prevents some friendly trash talk. In fact, the way I think about it, it provides a comfortable space to properly disparage the other team, without causing anyone to take the slings and barbs personally. My friends who are Mets fans never hear the end of it from me.

 Additionally, I am part of the events planning group on campus Fords’ Against Boredom (FAB), and we do our best to get students together for big sports games, and to take them down to Philadelphia to see the Phillies, Flyers, or 76ers (when the NBA is not in a lockout). Every year, we plan an event for 200+ students to get together, watch the Super Bowl, Final Four, etc., eat food, and judge the best/worst commercials. It makes for a really fun experience – while some people could watch the game in their room on a TV or the internet, the sense of community at Haverford drives people to come to our events, socialize, and enjoy the game!

 Tonight, I have a lot of sports watching to look forward to: our women’s soccer team at 3, field hockey at 7, and then the Philadelphia Flyers at 7:30!