Men’s Rugby Tackles Beast of the East

Men’s Rugby Tackles Beast of the East

Nolan Pakulski, Contributing Writer

   The Men’s Rugby Team recently tra

The UMF Men’s Rugby Team prepared vigorously for the Beast of the East tournament (Photo courtesy of UMF Men’s Rugby Team)

velled to the proving grounds of Rhode Island to participate in the Beast of the East rugby tournament.

   Beast of the East is the largest collegiate rugby tournament in the world. Teams from all over the country come to compete for the cup. Last year, the UMF Rugby team won the finals— a goal that they were hoping to accomplish again this year.

   The tournament began with a rough start. “The weather [on] the first day was absurdly wet and chilly. Beast is near the coast, so this is super typical,” said team member Tom Young in an email interview. “We at least had [a tent] this year, but it didn’t help much. At one point we even cut a hole in some trash bags and wore them as ponchos.”.

   Despite the bad weather, the team defeated Johnson and Wales University of Rhode Island, in an astounding victory of 75 to 0. Next, UMF played Franklin Pierce University of New Hampshire, with a final score of 73 to 0— another impressive victory for the men’s rugby team.

   The next day of the tournament was the finals matches for the cup, during which UMF played UMass Dartmouth in a very close and well-matched game. Patrick Powers, a second year on the team, said, “They came out and scored 13 points in probably the first ten minutes, and then we came back and scored five point. Then we scored two more times (10 points) in the second half. We were up 15-13 for the last 15 minutes, [but] in the last two minutes they broke through and scored.”

   Although doing remarkably well, the team fell slightly short of their goal. “We lost in our semi-final match match against UMass Dartmouth. That’s the team that we beat in the cup championship [last year],” said Powers. “It was very intense. They played really well and they definitely earned it.”

   Part of the reason they lost was due to situational components to the game. Opportunities aren’t made on the field, and sometimes the ball doesn’t go the right way, as is the same with all sports. “This is such a good team, full of great players, and we know what we’re capable of on the rugby pitch,” said Powers.

   One of the ways that the players prepared for the tournament was by cutting their hair as a way to raise funds for the team, and to simply continue the tradition. “Everyone is recommended to do it once during their four years,” said Powers. “It raises a good deal of money for us.”

    This fundraiser begins by deciding which players are going to participate, and then people bid to cut the hair of these players. The highest bidder gets to cut the hair of the player that they bid on in any way they want. Powers bid in the auction to cut Nikolai Lane’s hair, another player on the team, and he won the bidding and got to decide how it was cut. “It is a fun tradition… and a really great conversation starter,” said Young.

   Anyone interested in joining the Men’s Rugby team can contact, Jack Neary at

Year in Review: Intramural Sports

Avery Ryan, Contributing Writer

Each season of an Intramural sport— including kickball, flag football, soccer, pickleball, and more— lasts three to four weeks, during which both student and staff teams compete against each other for t-shirts; a reward that has become cherished and intensely desired over the years.

   Spring Volleyball, the final intramural season of the semester, recently concluded with intense and exciting levels of play.

   Justin Davis, junior, has participated in every intramural season this year. “[Intramurals] have been a lot of fun to take part in. I love the competition, and the fact that after the game— no matter what happens— you’re still friends with the people you compete against.”

   Intramural Program Director, Jake Heimlich, participates in each season in addition to his responsibilities in scheduling and officiating. “I do intramurals to have fun with my friends, and to play sports that I normally wouldn’t do, like pickleball,” Heimlich said.

   Heimlich also emphasizes sportsmanship improvements within the program. “I would say that sportsmanship has come a long way. It has improved drastically. Sportsmanship has changed as teams get more friendly than competitive. With the exception of a few sports, people are able to keep it lighthearted and fun.”

   Leah Brackett, Assistant Director of the Fitness and Recreation Center, agreed on the topic of sportsmanship. “[It’s] been fantastic this year. Our expectations are more clear, and teams know that. The environment has improved.”

   The Fitness and Recreation Center is the largest student employment facility on campus with more than 100 student employees across all departments. Brackett noted improvements in student employee officiating this year. “We have high expectations for our officials. They’re all students, and we don’t have the resources for crazy amounts of training, so it takes a certain flexibility and willingness to stand out among your peers.” Brackett continued, “We’re always looking for people to participate as referees. Lots of [our referees] are graduating and there will be many job opportunities.”

   The average intramural season this year has had 10 registered teams, including the occasional staff team. The most popular season was basketball. Brackett has allowed for “free agents” to register and be taken in by teams in the case they could not put together a full team on their own. “The numbers this year were pretty average,” Brackett said. “We’ve had years with very few registered teams and years with crazy numbers.”

   “We hope to grow our numbers and to continue to focus on people enjoying themselves. Everyone wants to win a shirt, we get that, and we want to make sure that we stay competitive without people getting down on their teammates or the refs,” Heimlich said.

   “I would encourage anyone and everyone, new and old, to come out and play. It’s a ton of fun, and a great way to meet new people,” Davis said.

How the UMF Alpine Team started from the bottom… now they’re where?

How the UMF Alpine Team started from the bottom… now they’re where?

By Libby Shanahan Contributing Writer

The Alpine Team recently came first in the Reynolds Division and won the Ricker Cup (Photo courtesy of UMF Snow Sports Facebook)

The day starts at 5:30 a.m. in the dead black of a winter morning, standing atop a race course  and looking down upon a snow-covered incline fit only for expert skiers — this is what the women and men athletes of the UMF Alpine Team live for. What some do not understand about competitive ski racing is the amount of dedication and resilience one must posses in order to push yourself to be a collegiate level athlete.

   The season begins far before winter. Athletes must complete a preseason training regimen, which starts in the very early weeks of school when students return. A combination of different dry-land exercises such as weight training, agility and various athletic testing is just a glimpse of what these athletes put themselves through in order to perform at their level. Returning athletes are given a packet of weekly exercises which they are expected to complete each week throughout the summer. In short, the athletes undergo a yearlong preparation for a three month season.

   Erin Buckland, junior, general studies major and student-assistant alpine coach describes the vigor she observes in her peers. “There certainly aren’t a lot of people that can say that this is what I do,” she paused, “it is almost as if athleticism comes second to dedication.”

   Buckland, a Farmington native and Carrabassett Valley Academy alum (CVA; a competitive snow sports high school), jumped at the opportunity to work with head coach, Andrew “Andy” Willihan ‘06. “Willihan coached me throughout my high school career, and was actually one of my dorm parents at CVA,” she said. “I raced with UMF for a couple years before transitioning into my student-assistant coaching position.” Buckland commented on what it was like working with Coach Willihan. “Out of all of the sports teams that I have been on, and the different coaches that I have had, Willihan has always been my favorite.”

   Coach Willihan began his post as head alpine coach and outdoor recreation coordinator in 2016. Along with years of experience in coaching ski racers, Coach Willihan has a way of connecting with his athletes. “Andy continuously supports everyone on his team, whether it be on the hill or in the community,” said Alicia Gaiero, junior and environmental policy and planning major. Gaiero recounted one of the first instances that she met Coach Willihan and was introduced to the team’s dynamic, “I had never touched a race gate before in my entire life, but Andy really embraced the fact that I was new to the competitive aspect of the sport in a way that boosted my confidence.”

   Brianna Marquis, sophomore and psychology major worked with Coach Willihan in years prior while attending Carrabassett Valley Academy, “Andy has recruited me twice, and he has become the person that I go to if I need to talk to about something serious, or really just someone that will hear me out.” Upon learning that UMF offered a varsity level alpine team, and that Andy would be heading the program, Marquis’s decision was solidified. “Coming from a competitive background, I was interested in something that would continue to challenge me athletically.”

   Since Coach Willihan’s arrival, the program has seen many advancements. The Ricker Cup is awarded to the team that places first out of the handful of teams within the Reynolds Division, and this year both the women and mens team landed at the top of the podium. “Three or four years ago this team was last in the division, and now to come in first… we’re only going to go up from here,” said Marquis.

  The team is very young, and only two athletes will be graduating this year. “We are still growing, and are always recruiting!” said Marquis. Gaiero encourages anyone who is interested in learning more about how to join to reach out, “we are a super inclusive team, and welcome any skill level.”


Women’s Rugby Team Searches for Funds and Players

Women’s Rugby Team Searches for Funds and Players

By Thomas Young Contributing Writer

The UMF Women’s Rugby Team is focused on preparing their team for the future. (Photo courtesy of Milo Fitzgerald)

The women’s rugby team is hosting and planning events in an attempt to attract new players and more funds. Upcoming events include a Pura Vida bracelet sale, a rugby themed t-shirts sale, and a Lula Wiles concert at Titcomb Mountain on August 25th.

   Captain Erin Buckland, the president of the club, is primarily in charge of the concert fundraiser. Although still in the planning stages, Buckland estimated the ticket cost to be around $15 for the community, with high potential for a UMF student discount. The concert could feature other artists as well. “We may have a local band open,” said Buckland. “It will be outside, which is sweet, but I hope it doesn’t rain.”

   Gianna Cialdea, the newly appointed recruitment chair, and Tegan Bradley, the PR chair, are in charge of recruiting new players through event planning and publicity. Cialdea recently organized her first ice cream social in The Landing. The ice cream social incorporated the teams main strategies of recruitment by displaying a professional Rugby game on a projector, providing a laid back environment for recruits to meet the current players. The ice cream social was “more for publicity” Cialdea said, something that can be hard to get on campus.

   The players also get publicity by occasionally tabling outside of the dining hall. When tabling, the girls will try to compile some team related shirts and jerseys to display. Sometimes the players will even play a game so other students can get a feel for the sport.

   The team receives some funding from the school, but is also required to fundraise on their own. T-shirt sales have been successful in the past, and the team plans on doing more in the future. The team is also looking into selling custom Pura Vida bracelets for approximately $8 in the fall. These bracelets will be exclusively sold by them club, and will not be found online elsewhere.

   Some players feel that there is a false claim associated with rugby athletes: that is, that all players are hulking behemoths. However, Cialdea feels as though “everybody has a rugby body.” Captain and Vice President Audrey Kahrs adds, “it’s important that people realize you don’t have to be a certain size to play.”

   Cialdea also believes that this offensive depiction of rugby athletes creates a negative stigma about the players character, even though they are, in fact, “very welcoming” individuals. With fifteen different positions to fill, the players are confident that they can find a role for any student that is interested.

   The team is very tight knit, and can attribute this to traditions like team dinners, “bigs and littles” – which provide new players a peer-mentor who has been on the team for more than one year. The camaraderie is what “separates the Farmington (rugby) team from other teams,” Cialdea said.

   Kahrs summarizes the 2018 fall semester season as a “rebuilding season for us” said Kahrs.  Last season was a unique season for the team because they had just went up a division, from New England Rugby Football Union (NERFU) to Colonial Coast.

   The spring semester is considered the team’s off-season. “[The] off-season is helpful for everyone to recover,” said Kahrs. The spring semester is much more relaxed for the team due to the lower quantity of games. Both Kahrs and Cialdea agree that the spring semester is the best time for new members to join because there is more time to learn the game as opposed to joining during the busy, fall season.

   The team highly encourages any student that is interested in playing – or even just learning about the sport  – to reach out. All of the club members are willing to provide details about practices and how to get started. Students can also email to get in touch with the team.


Learning Snowsports the UMF Way

By Emma Pierce Contributing Writer

    The Learn-to-Ski program is teaching students how to ski or snowboard for free as an elective, or as a substitute for a physical education (PHE) credit during the first half of the spring semester.

   “Every student needs to take a PHE credit and this is an opportunity to learn to ski or snowboard as half of that credit,” said Nolan Miler, senior and independent work study for the Learn-To-Ski program. The program has been running since the end of January and will continue to run until the start of spring break in March.

   Lessons occur twice a week at Titcomb Mountain, less than 15 minutes away from UMF. In addition to the free lessons, free transportation is provided for those who need it, and free rental alpine skis are readily available for the use of this course. Enrolling in the lessons also means that the student obtain a free season pass if they have not received one already for the academic year.

   The lessons consist of a small group, normally no larger than 5 people, which helps instructors focus more on strengthening each students skills. Essentially, these lessons are specifically catered to what the student wants to work on with the instructor.

   Portia Hardy, a freshman in the Earth and Environmental Science program and a student taking lessons through the Learn-To-Ski program, makes the most of the lessons. “Before we go down the mountain,” Hardy explained, “[the instructor asks] ‘What are you working on today? Anything you want to focus on?’” With that, they go up the mountain and start working on edging, parallel turns, or anything that the student wants to work on to help further develop skills.

   The lessons in the program are taught by UMF students, most of them in the Alpine Operations certificate program run by the Outdoor Recreation and Business Administration (ORBA) major. Sam Shirley, a freshman in the ORBA program with a concentration in Alpine Operations, is an instructor for the Learn-to-Ski program. Originally from Massachusetts, he has instructed skiing lessons at Ski Bradford since 2016 and has taken on an assistant director’s position at the snowsports school at Black Mountain of Maine in Rumford since his arrival at UMF.

   “I have taught a number of different students in the Learn-to-Ski program of varying ability levels,” said Shirley in an online interview. “Most recently I have been teaching two level 5 skiers.” This means that the skiers are confident on all beginner trails and ready to move into more difficult intermediate terrain, can use turn shapes to control speed going down the mountain, and can generally complete a hockey stop: using the edges of the skis to come to a full stop.

   On top of Shirley’s ski-related jobs, he also teaches Snowcats, an after-school program for children in kindergarten to third grade who want to learn how to ski. Snowcats is also coordinated by the Alpines Operations program, and many of the instructors that teach Learn-to-Ski lessons also teach Snowcat lessons. The larger class sizes of the Snowcats lessons require more instructors than the Learn-to-Ski lessons, and the different teaching style needed for young children compared to adults, Shirley said, “is a much different dynamic for a number of reasons.”

   Even though these two age groups have significant differences in how they are taught, Shirley still appreciates the hands-on experience he receives from these lessons and strongly supports this style of learning. “Having on snow experience is the only way to learn what works best as your teaching style,” said Shirley, “As an instructor, I also learn new things almost every day from my students. They help me develop new methods of teaching and show me new ways to connect with students.”

   There is still time to take ski or snowboarding lessons through Learn-To-Ski. “They’ll allow anyone to join at any point,” said Miler. “We like teaching people to ski so come on over.”

   If a student wants to use this course as a PHE substitute from now until the Learn-To-Ski program ends, they’re encouraged to ask their PHE instructor about how to sign up. If a student want to join as an elective, contact Isaac Seigle at or Nolan Miler at

Women’s Lacrosse Coach Discusses Leadership and the Upcoming Season

Women’s Lacrosse Coach Discusses Leadership and the Upcoming Season

By Heather Kinee  Contributing Writer

Coach Beth Lebel, a UMF Graduate, is inspired by the coaches she had has an undergrad. (Photo Courtesy of UMF Athletics Page)

With the women’s lacrosse team nearing its season, head coach Beth Lebel was able to shed some insight on their upcoming season. Lebel, a UMF graduate, didn’t find her passion for coaching until she worked in sports information.

   “I knew that after my experiences as a student athlete here I didn’t want to be done with athletics,” Lebel said. Since Label was once a student athlete herself,  she found the drive to become a coach at UMF. Label already knew the town, the other coaches, the community, and she wanted to give back through coaching.

   One coach that had a huge positive impact was Molly Wilkie, the women’s soccer coach. “Having a coach that believes in you is 80 percent said Lebel and Molly was that coach.”

   While attending UMF, Lebel played four years of soccer and two years of lacrosse. When Lebel graduated, she jumped in as an assistant coach with her former coach Wilkie. “I looked up to Molly as a coach,” said Lebel, “and now I had the opportunity to work along side of her as my mentor.”

   Lebel started off assistant coaching soccer and lacrosse but when the position opened up for the head coaching position, she applied and got the job. Lebel has now been assistant coaching soccer for five years and and has been head coach of the women’s lacrosse team for three.

   Only a week into the season Lebel says that the team is meshing really well together already. “Having everyone who did fall ball is now here on the team really makes a difference,” said Lebel. The team is already way ahead of where they were last year.

   Though the lacrosse team lost a couple of key players last year, they have a good chunk of experienced players coming back, including six seniors, three of which are captains. “Having such a strong core as our highest class is great as they all lead as examples and really help and encourage our underclassmen,” said Lebel.

   Sam Cross, a senior Biology Pre-Vet major, has played lacrosse at UMF for all four years. Cross is one of the captains and also has high hopes for the season. “The team has changed over the years by becoming more accepting to all players and working more on team chemistry,” Cross said in an online interview. “When you look at our team, there are not cliques and you honestly cannot tell who belongs in each class which is something that we take pride in.”  

   Cross and the team are all on the same page as for what they want for the season. With hard work and dedication they have been putting in the are ready for the season to start with the NAC championship in sight.

   “Any team hopes to make it to the conference championship but seeing the women’s soccer team do it and win has really inspired the lacrosse team,” said Lebel. This has driven the team to to give any team a run for their money.

   While they struggle with snow on the ground, the team is able to make accommodations by practicing inside as well as traveling to Thomas to play on their turf. Since there are many other sports during the spring, the women’s lacrosse team has to be very flexible with sharing time inside the gym, such as practicing at 6 a.m. in the morning. “The girls have a great attitude about it and after a little while it’s just routine to them,” said Lebel.

   The lacrosse team is built up of strong hard workers and as the season goes on Lebel is excited to see how the team will unravel and progress.

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