Scene on Campus: Day Three

Every day this week, the editorial staff of Middlebury Magazine will fan across campus to record the goings-on as August gives way to September, and a quiet campus welcomes the arrival of students. The third in a five-part series.

During a week when temperatures have cruised into the 90s and most of us are trying to be as still as possible—preferably in air conditioning—the fall athletes have returned to Middlebury and are moving fast.

On Wednesday morning by 9 a.m. it’s already into the 80s with thick humidity. Cicadas and crickets are ceaseless. Seagulls linger hopefully near the practice field where the women’s soccer team is drilling.

The women wear game faces. First week back is exciting, but also anxious, says Katie Ruymann, a senior from Medford, N.J. “We have a tough season right off the bat, so this first week is important for getting players focused on our goal: winning the NESCAC.”

Through the steamy haze at the South Street end of the complex, the men’s soccer team is also working through intense midday heat. They shout encouragement to each other and show little tolerance for low-energy performances.

Icing his leg on the bench, one of the players says the team is looking forward to the season and is highly motivated after last year’s late-season surge that ended in a heartbreaking loss to Williams in the NESCAC Championships.

It’s 2:30 at Peter Kohn Field. Under a scorching sun, the field hockey team runs drills end-to-end. The air temperature is 90, but the turf adds another 10 degrees, so it’s about 100 degrees on the field. Dozens of water bottles with players’ names on them line the side of the bright green turf.

Midway through the sprint there are a few casualties. The heat is causing one athlete some breathing problems since she recently had surgery for a broken nose. Another hobbles off toward the trainer’s golf cart with a sore ankle. Resting and ice seem to help.

A short distance away, the cross-country team is finishing up drills on Dragone Track. They congregate under a tree, trying to figure out the best time for a long run. A first-year student says he’d be fine with 6 a.m., but that suggestion is met with noncommittal smiles and vague nods.

The football players have gotten a slight reprieve today—they’re not out in the sun this afternoon. But they might rather be. Instead, they’re watching video from yesterday’s practice in a hot, unair-conditioned room in the field house.

The fields are mostly quiet now, except for the unlikely wind chime created by a hot breeze blowing on the flagpole. A couple wanders back to look at the fields. They’re parents of a first-year student, and they confess to playing hooky from parent orientation.

“Pretty nice set-up back here,” says the dad, gazing across the fields to the mountain scenery. “When does anyone have time to study?”

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