A Response To Colgate Professors', "Open Letter On Athletics At Colgate"

A Response To Colgate Professors', "Open Letter On Athletics At Colgate"

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It's the first day of class and the professor has everyone doing the dreaded ice breaker: say your name, where you're from, why you want to take the class, and what activities you're involved in outside the Colgate classroom. As your turn to "break the ice" approaches, you decide whether or not to say you're on a sports team. It's a toss up between your Raider pride and your student reputation; your athletic passion or (what could very well be) your academic demise.

Don’t get me wrong—there are many Colgate professors who support our double status, but there are also some that don’t. For example, in the middle of my freshmen year, 63 professors decided to draft and sign a document entitled “An Open Letter on Athletics at Colgate.” The letter expressed concerns about the place and impact of athletics within the university—a university said to solely be “for the [fundamental] advancement of intellectual work and academic life.”

I soon realized that this—what I interpreted as the professors’ disapproval of my sport and athletic passion—was something I was going to have to deal with for the next four years. In sports terms, this was a knock down. But just as in sports, getting knocked down only means getting back up and fighting. And so here, my fellow student-athletes, are some fighting words for any of you who happen to find yourself in the ring with a professor this year:

Dear Professor(s),

I think I speak on behalf of most Colgate student-athletes when I say that we are students first and athletes second. In the letter, you express the idea that athletics has “created two cultures on campus” and that “athletes are often isolated because of the immense demands on us.” However, I believe that adding “athlete” to our status on campus does not make us any less of a student. In fact, I believe that it enhances our status as a student.

As athletes, we are disciplined. We must manage our time effectively, work endlessly, and learn efficiently. We are the ones who study the syllabus, checking to see if we will miss any classes, assignments, or outside lectures; we are the ones who come to office hours, asking for help in case we’ve happened to miss a class or two; we are the ones who build strong student-professor relationships because we spend so many hours in your office; and, although it may not be the most ideal study space, we are the ones opening our books on the bus most Saturday nights.

So, while you believe that the travel and the games and the early morning practice hours leave us “exhausted,” I believe that it leaves us with a set of skills and virtues that only students can acquire by being an athlete as well.

In your letter, you also recognize that “interscholastic athletic teams are no longer seasonal activities.” You say that we are “conscripted into yearlong programs of team-life, training and competition;" that “coaches often dictate an inordinate portion of our daily, weekly, yearly schedules” and because of these demands, “we are isolated … cut off from mainstream campus culture and academic life.” You are right in saying that our sports are now yearlong programs, but you are wrong in saying that our coaches dictate an inordinate portion of our lives.

We choose to play our sport because we are passionate about it. We have a drive, a desire, a dedication. We are self-motivated to be a better version of ourselves. We are self-reflective. We know who we are today and know who we want to be tomorrow, and will do whatever it takes to get there. We know who we are as individuals and who we are as part of something bigger than ourselves. We are not told who we are or what to do. We have our own inner drive that many college kids may not have.

So yes, you’re right when you say we aren’t like other college kids. You’re right when you say we are isolated and cut off from mainstream campus culture, but that is only because as athletes, we serve a wider community.

We know that we cannot participate in some of the mainstream campus culture that other students can because we know we represent something bigger than ourselves. We are role models to the kids of the community and representatives of our team, of our school.

In the end, we are some of the most self-aware, self-reflective and self-cognizant students. And isn’t that at the core of intellectual advancement?

In your letter, you also state that “Colgate, like the rest of the colleges and universities in the United States, was founded for one purpose—the higher education of it's students;" you say that “the time commitment among Colgate student-athletes has reached a place of excess that has resulted in an encroachment on academic life in ways that are at odds with the fundamental mission of education at Colgate.” I understand that Colgate was “founded for the purpose of higher education”, but I also understand that Colgate was founded by thirteen men with thirteen dollars, thirteen prayers, and an extraordinary mission in mind.

Colgate was not founded to be like every other college, or at least that is what I thought. I thought that we were unique in the sense that we were more than “the advancement of intellectual work and academic life.” I thought we were here to understand different human conditions, become diverse, help others, and be globally versed. I thought that we were here to be well-rounded people.

You see, to me, “higher education” is something more than just intellectual inquiry and scholarship. A “higher education” is one that encompasses both intellectual pursuit and athletic pursuit. Having a Division One Athletics program, attracts students who not only want to compete at the highest level of sports, but, more importantly, want to study at the highest level. We student-athletes came here because we ultimately didn’t have to make a choice between advanced academics and advanced athletics. Here, we are able to receive the best of both worlds.

Student-athletes give Colgate diversity. We are the ones who have been juggling our sport with our schoolwork our entire lives; we are the ones who know how to cooperate well with others, communicate clearly, and work hard; we are the ones who “get it”. We get that these are probably the last four years playing our sport; we get that we probably won’t go play professionally or make it to the big leagues; we get that. So, that is why we came to Colgate—a college where we are not only able to play our sport for four more years, but, more importantly, where we are able to get a good education that sets us up for the rest of our lives.

Which brings me to my last point … the rest of our lives. As athletes, sports will always be part of our lives. The key word here that many professors seem to miss is part. Sports will not dominate us or rule us or control us after college; they will simply be one part, one aspect of our lives. After college, we will go out and find “real jobs;” we will make it in the “real world.” So, when you say that athletics at Colgate “comes at a cost to personal growth and academic progress,” that athletics hinders our success in the world, I say that is not true.

Colgate graduates 99 percent of all its student-athletes. It ties for the number one graduate success rate in the Patriot League and ranks fourth in the nation, only behind Brown, Dartmouth, and Notre Dame. Has bred some of the most successful people I know. It has not only bred successful scholars, but successful professionals and leaders who have taken their education outside the intellectual realm.

Look at Bob Woodruff. One of the best lacrosse players to ever go through Colgate, who is now co-anchor of ABC World New Tonight. Look at Mark Murphy. A four-year starter for the football team who is now President and CEO of the Green Bay Packers. And even take a look at our own Vicky Chun. Vicky is now our Athletic Director. But first, Vicky played and coached Colgate volleyball for many years. She is the only female athletic director in the Patriot League and one of just 28 women leading a Division One athletic department. I’d say these former Colgate student-athletes did pretty well with the rest of their lives. And, if you give us the chance, I believe that you, too, will someday be able to say that we did pretty well with the rest of ours as well.

Sincerely,

Lexi Panepinto, A Proud Student-Athlete

Cover Image Credit: Lexi Panepinto

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7 Things That Annoy Volleyball Players More Than Anything

How to get under a volleyball player's skin in two seconds.
Sam
Sam
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I'm not sure why but volleyball players are a very particular group of people — we like what we like and we HATE what we don't, especially when it is volleyball-related. If you're a volleyball player, I'm sure you can relate to this list and if you're not a volleyball player, now you know exactly how you will be able to get under our skin.

1. Girls who wear spandex in public

Don’t get me wrong, we wear spandex for a living. We understand WHY people wear them to workout. But wearing them to the dining hall, class or anywhere that isn’t the gym… please don’t. Put on some shorts or leggings — PLEASE.

2. The “I’ll beat you in volleyball” line

For some odd reason when someone who likes you finds out that you play volleyball, they say this. I’m not sure why, but its really annoying that people think they’re better than you (a collegiate athlete) at the sport you’ve been playing your whole life.

3. When guys mention that they only come to your games because you wear spandex

You’re right, why would any appreciate our athletic ability when you can simply appreciate our butts.

4. Freshman who don’t think they have to do their Freshman duties

PSA: Every single school has freshman duties; YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY FRESHMAN WHO HAVE TO DO THEM. Everyone has done them when they were a freshman. Stop complaining, do your duties, and play volleyball because after your freshman season you’ll never have to do it again.

5. When people try to tell you that volleyball isn’t hard

Why don’t you jump for three hours straight and throw your body on the ground hundreds of times and tell me how easy it is.

6. The word "spike"

I honestly feel bad about hating this so much but nothing nothing NOTHING annoys us more than when someone uses the work "spike". For some reason this word went out of style a longgggg time ago and nobody got the memo except the people in the volleyball world. Instead of telling your friend that they had a good spike, tell them that they had a great "hit." HIT = SPIKE.

7. Balls that aren't perfectly blown up

Volleyball players are hands down the most high maintenance group of people when it comes to our sport. I will go through an entire ball cart to find the best ball possible... if the ball is flat, no matter what contact you make it is going to be bad. If the ball is too hard, no matter what contact you make it is going to be bad.

Cover Image Credit: Sam
Sam
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what the Japanese did after they Lost The soccer game Means A Lot For People Like Me

What the Japanese did after their loss at the Fifa World Cup means a lot for people like me.

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The Fifa World Cup took the world by storm with a variety of unexpected twists and turns along the way for many of the matches. But one of the things that surprised me the most was the Japanese soccer team and how far they ended up going. My family and I along with all the other local Japanese people were supporting the entire time.

The last game they had against Belgium was extremely intense. I was watching with my Japanese co-workers while at work and we were cheering-- a lot. The Japanese soccer team was able to get two goals before the end of the first half and a lot of people were pretty optimistic about the outcome for the Japanese team. Then the second half started and the Belgians were pretty quick to catch up. We watched with a great deal of hope that the Japanese could pull it off until the end of the game, but the Belgians scored another goal in the last 20 seconds of the entire game.

Everyone was pretty devastated.

As I watched the Japanese soccer players fall to their knees crying and the coach unable to speak in an interview after the game, I only felt admiration and empathy for their hard-work and their loss. They gave it their all and they weren't able to win, but along with the Japanese spectators (who were shown to be very supportive to the team in interviews after the game), the players accepted their loss and many of them were optimistic for the future of the team. I was extremely proud to be a Japanese at that moment. But after the game was also a surprise.

After this game, American media and the rest of the world gathered attention to how the Japanese took to cleaning the entire stadium despite their loss. When I first saw the headline complimenting the team, and the picture of Japanese people cleaning the stadium, I was extremely proud. The Japanese have been doing this act for a while, but this year they received a great deal of attention for it. Many took videos and pictures after the game of Japanese picking up trash in the aisles of the stadium.

The Japanese keeping a public space clean is a natural kind of knack and I never questioned why or how: it just was. But many parts of the world looked at what the Japanese did, and are learning from what they did after the game, and a few are looking to implement that into their school system like in the Japanese school system. At that moment, I was extremely proud to be part Japanese.

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