Tag Archives: athletics

Cheer Boys Cheer, Middlebury’s Here

This weekend I took the Middlebury fan bus down to NYC to see our team play in a very prestigious sporting event: the Quidditch World Cup. (Yep, you heard right. Quiddtich. Like from Harry Potter.)

Muggle Quiddtich started at Middlebury six years ago, with a bunch of freshmen who wanted to spice up their weekly tradition of playing bocce on Battell Beach. Those students have now graduated and moved on to bigger and better things–and Quidditch has grown up as well. I remember my freshman year’s World Cup, when Middlebury hosted nine teams on dorm room floors and were amazed at how huge a crowd we’s managed to draw. (That was also the first year it was an actual “world” cup, since McGill came down from Canada to play.) Last year, the World Cup moved to NYC because the number of spectators had gotten too big to fit in Middlebury, VT. This year, Quiddtich exceeded even my wildest, most outlandish imaginings. The IQA put together a tournament of over one hundred teams, including an alumni game and a high school bracket. When I first arrived, I spent half an hour walking around the complex of nine pitches in awe, amazed at how little MiddQuid has grown into a worldwide pheonomenon. (And I mean worldwide. This weekend Middlebury had the honor of playing the most far-flung team to date: Vassa, from Finland. I’m pretty sure they flew over in an airplane, not on brooms.)
Middlebury has been the reigning World Cup Champions since the beginning, which always sortof seemed like a given. This year, though, I realized that we would have to play really well to even have a shot at trophy–in Quiddtich tradition, a plastic vodka bottle spray-painted gold. (Nobody but the team knows if it’s full or not.) We played pretty well in pool play, ending up 13th seed in the 34-team single-elimination bracket. In pool play, we did experience our first loss in the history of Quiddtich, to Michigan’s VERY enthusiastic team.
We made it through to the semifinals and finals, held in the soccer stadium on Randall’s Island. The Middlebury student cheering section just managed to make ourselves be heard over the roar of the rest of the stadium–with the notable exception of Canada’s two teams, which graciously both cheered for us. I dont think I’ve ever been that nervous at a sporting event in my life. We cheered, yelled at the dramatically-gesticulating ref, and chanted for the two of our players that were carried off the field on stretchers (they’re both going to be okay, but be warned: Quidditch is a rough sport). We sang various Middlebury fight songs and found even the least Quidditch-enthused of us yelling things like “Nice beat! He was bludged, ref! Drop the Quaffle!!!!”
After a nerve-wracking game and some excellent snitching (The Golden Snitch: a human being dressed in all yellow for whom no rules apply. Snitching is a hilarious sub-sport that’s worth checking out on Youtube.), Middlebury caught the snitch and, just barely, defended our championship for the fifth year running. I dont know if we’ll be able to hold onto it next year–Quidditch teams everywhere are getting better and better–but I was happy to see us win, in person, for my last World Cup as a student.
The fan bus left NYC right after the final game, so we arrived back in Middlebury at 4:00 this morning. It’s a tribute to our fan’s enthusiasm that we didnt sleep the whole way: we spent the first hour or so reliving plays and singing the very intimidating and bloodthirsty  Middlebury victory song:
“There’s only one Middlebury / hey hey / one Middlebury / hey hey / walkin’ along / singin’ a song / walkin’ in a winter wonderland.”

Pumping (relatively small amounts of) Iron

       When I’m feeling a little too big for my britches, I go to the gym. Of course, that works in two senses. The first doesn’t require explaining here. The second merits a little more attention. At Middlebury, there is no such thing as a “varsity gym” (or its neglected twin, the “plebe gym”). One gym serves everyone, varsity athletes and the not-so varsity alike. This means that if I hit the gym at the right time, I can expect to follow the offensive line on the bench, the basketball team at the pull-up bar, and maybe a cross-country runner on the treadmill.
       At home, I go to a community center gym. I don’t know about anyone else’s community, but judging by the fitness center on most afternoons, mine is not terribly athletic. I follow the retired lawyer with a bad hip on the bench, last year’s softball MVP on the pull up bar, and a variety of power walkers on the treadmill.
       Yet I have found the feeling you get working out in each is strikingly similar. Perhaps that is because Middlebury’s athletic community is so difficult to distinguish from Middlebury at large.  Sure, they have a lot of swag. But aside from the t-shirts and warm ups, they look, act, and think just like anyone else here. So when I head to the gym, I have no reason to expect anything different than when I head to the community center. What’s more, I have no reason to expect anything different than when I head to the library.  Sure, I’m impressed when the line gets done hoisting their own body weight over their heads. But that impression isn’t all that different from the one I get when I see the same student carrying an equally impressive stack of books to his carrel in the library.
       We all work, and work pretty hard, whether at the gym, the library, or wherever else. More importantly, we appreciate all of that work—and my britches are nice and comfy wherever I go.

More than a practice

I never thought about being an athlete because I always considered myself as a “weak” Asian girl who would be easily knocked onto the ground by those strong, intimidating athletes. As the time of graduation approaches and I’m going to depend totally on myself, I decided to become a bit tougher and stronger so that I could survive the real world after Middlebury. Then I registered for the Fencing Workshop during my last J-term. Think about fencing– white jacket, long metal sword and a shiny, mysterious mask– is there anything cooler than that?

With the expectation to be cool and fancy and tough I went to the first class. It was fun. The two coaches, both are students on campus, introduced us some basic techniques of fencing and we did some warm-ups and foot works. Then the real practice began. We all dressed up in those fancy outfits and played around with our weapon (like a real fencer in the old times!). Then we lined up and the coaches asked us to hit them with the weapon in the way that they taught us. When Nick’11, one of the coaches,  told me to thrust him, I extended my arm and “touched” him with the weapon. “It is a touch, not a thrust! You should push harder and bend the weapon!” said Nick. I did so. The weapon was really bent and the tip of it was pressed into his jacket. That must hurt a lot! I quickly took back my arm and asked, “does it hurt?” “No, not at all. You should be stronger on that. ” said Nick.

The Courage to be strong and fearless is the “must-have” for all fencers. I finally got the courage to really “hit” my opponent with the sword. I got hit by others too. It does hurt. And when we started real one-on-one fencing, I got a lot of bruises every time we practiced. At first I was scared of getting bruises; but later on, bruises became my best friends because they helped improve fencing skills. During one fencing practice an epee fencer got half of his nail ripped off and he bled so badly. But he was still smiling. I offered to give him a bandage but the other coach, Clark’13, said “no he’s fine. This is such a small thing that I won’t even call it an injury.”

By the end of the workshop I realized that fencing had had taught me so much:

1.Stay gracious even in the most vicious game.
2.Never feel discouraged.
3.Smile when someone get you bruises, apologize when you get someone bruises.
4.Physical pain is always paid off by psychological gain.
5.The sword is sharp, but it is also flexible.
6.Remember to salute your referee.
7. Practice makes perfect. Always.

In the spring semester I joined the fencing team because fencing is really fun. We will have three off-campus competitions this semester. On the way to be a real fencer there will be pain, but it will be paid off finally.

I am so glad that I joined an athletic team in my senior year. I wish I could do it earlier. The experience is more than just practices. It is a way to build up psychological strength, learn to deal with difficulties with courage and to live on with persistence. It also brings me awesome new friends.

Middlebury is a place to discover your potential on anything. All you need to do is just to try. Looking back to the entire college life at Middlebury, what I appreciate most is that I’ve got the chance to try whatever I wanted to do. My peers are exceptional and I’ve learned so much from them. Middlebury is a small rural campus, but she is filled up by all kinds of intellectuals and future characters that have lighted up my world.

* If you wanna learn more about athletics at Middlebury, you’re encouraged to visit: http://www.middlebury.edu/athletics

All I do is win.

Our fall teams are dominant: Men’s soccer, Women’s Volleyball and both Men’s and Women’s Cross-Country were NESCAC champions this fall. All four, along with the Field hockey team advanced into NCAA tournament play last weekend. Volleyball finished with a record of 25-6 and was one game away from a free trip to St. Louis for the Sweet Sixteen. The Middlebury College Rugby club, a multi-time D2 National Champion, is the undefeated northeast champion and will be heading to the national playoffs once the snow melts—there is no snow on the ground yet, I’m using figurative language. Both Cross-Country teams are in the air, like flying in airplanes currently, on their way to the NCAA championship in Iowa. Name one town in Iowa. Between the men and women, they have five NCAA D3 Championships in the past ten years, with any luck that number will be six before you read this post. Our men’s soccer team, which won the D3 National Championship in 2007, won its first two NCAA tournament games and will play in the NCAA sectionals at Bowdoin College in Maine this weekend. I am a bandwagon fan only I never fall off the bandwagon because all we do is win.

But what Middlebury athletics most famous for, beyond all the trophies and the looking great, is “Picking Up Butch,” a Middlebury tradition for the past fifty years. Just watch the video, on ESPN. Hopefully they’ll make you watch the Gillette Fusion Proglide commercial beforehand.


Middlebury students may be in the library on Sundays, but Fridays and Saturdays are a bit of a different story.  One of the things about Middlebury that most surprised me as an incoming first-year was the fact that most students do not leave Middlebury on the weekends, with some exceptions such as in-season athletes travelling to compete.  I thought that I would be spending a decent amount of time in Burlington (45 mins) and Montreal (2.5 hours).  I’ve only been to Burlington a few times and Montreal probably the same amount.  Other than those few short trips, I’ve spent my weekends here.

What can a town of 8,000 (Middlebury) offer that an international metropolis of 2 million (Montreal) can’t?  A good place to study, you may joke.  That’s true.  However, Middlebury realizes that it doesn’t have 2 million residents and that it has to work harder to keep students entertained.  To this end, the College and students themselves take it upon themselves to offer a wide range of weekend activities for students with a variety of interests.

Take this past weekend, for example.  Friday night, Inception was screened three times in Dana Auditorium as part of the Free Friday Film series.  The Free Friday Film Series is a series of recently released films offered free to students by MCAB (Middlebury College Activities Board), the student-run activities board.

After Inception, my suite hosted the pirate party, an annual tradition of the Sailing Club.  The Sailing Club is a three-part program: it runs a PE class, offers a recreational sailing program that allows anyone to get out on the water, and competes in regattas as a member of the NEISA (New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association).  The team is incredibly tight, even when they’re mock fighting in pirate garb (witnessed Friday night).

Saturdays are usually fairly relaxed.  This past Saturday, you could’ve gone down to Alumni Stadium, gotten involved in a tailgate and watched the football team end their season with a win over Tufts.  On any given weekend, you could grab a few friends, hike Snake Mountain and spend a while admiring the beauty of the Champlain Valley.  You could also explore town, pick up some fresh cheese at the Farmers Market, grab a sandwich at Noonie’s and eat it overlooking the falls on Otter Creek.

This past Saturday night, MCAB brought us Yeasayer.  They gave a great show with the crowd going especially wild for one of the lead singer’s jumpsuit.  MCAB is able to bring a lot of great acts here for concerts.  In recent years, we’ve seen: The Roots, Girl Talk, Regina Spektor, and many more.

Scene in Nelson on Saturday night

This past Sunday, a lot of people skipped the library (at least for a while) to watch the mens’ soccer team win the NCAA DIII regional championship.  The soccer team will advance to sectionals next weekend, hopefully moving onto nationals after that.  The team is no stranger to the NCAA DIII National Championship, having won it in 2007.

As you can see, Middlebury doesn’t give students much reason to want to leave campus.  That said, I will be going up to Burlington tomorrow to see the midnight showing of the latest Harry Potter.  Pumped.