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 tryumfrugby@gmail.com 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 isaac.seigle@maine.edu or Nolan Miler at nolan.miler@maine.edu.

A Look Into Mainely Outdoors

A Look Into Mainely Outdoors

By Robert Drinkwater Contributing Writer


Mainely Outdoors recently had their first cross country skiing excursion. (Photo courtesy of Mainely Outdoors Facebook Page)

Mainely Outdoors offers a large variety of trips and activities throughout the year, as well as rental gear that can start any adventure: “we like to break down barriers, and we try to give them [students] the best experience possible,” said Joe Haggerty, a program supervisor at Mainely Outdoors,

   There are many trips that Mainely Outdoors will be hosting throughout this semester. “We have cross country skiing, usually every Saturday,” said Haggerty. In addition, the program also currently offers trips that focus on snowshoeing, ice skating and snow tubing. These events will occur until late March, or early April. “We also have the full moon excursions.” said Haggerty, “[during which] we like to hike a mountain when there is a full moon.” He also mentioned a possible trip to the anti gravity center, or a trampoline place in March.

   The program offers different trips and activities during each season. For instance, in the fall Mainely Outdoors offers trips for mountain biking, hiking and water sports such as white water rafting. During the winter, it offers cross country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing. In the spring, it offers paddleboarding, overnight camping events and occasionally horseback riding. “We also play disc golf,” said Haggerty, “and rock climbing can be done at any time of the year, because it’s indoors.” he continued.

   Haggerty offered some examples of a few trips that he has been on with Mainely Outdoors, including an excursion to Acadia National Park. Haggerty also mentioned that the program is offers a series of trips the help broaden a participants skill set. The event series include trips that focus on cross country skiing, snowshoeing and mountain biking. “I’ve been co-leading the mountain biking series,” said Haggerty, “that’s probably my favorite series.”

   Sylvie Fenderson, a Mainely Outdoors employee, said that her favorite excursion was a service trip to the Maine Huts and Trails at Flagstaff Lake. “We got to spend some time in the hut and helped them stack wood, and on the way back we got a workout trudging through the snow,” said Fenderson, “the views were absolutely breathtaking.” Fenderson added, “I personally don’t think enough people take advantage of this program, we are doing awesome trips, all the time.”

   When it comes to students experiences with Mainely Outdoors, Haggerty said, “a lot of people say being out in nature is attractive to them, and it allows them to get away from the stress of homework.” Haggerty mentioned how these excursions a great way to meet new people – especially for freshmen, transfer or international students.

   Flor Villarreal, a Spanish TA from Argentina, has been on a number of trips with Mainely Outdoors. Her experience with the program began by learning how to rock climb. “That was the first time I participated in Mainely Outdoors trips.” said Villarreal, “it was amazing!”

   When describing her initial experience, Villarreal said, “Honestly, I was afraid, but the leaders of the trips were so nice, and the atmosphere in the group was so good.” This experience encouraged Villarreal to go on more of the trips that Mainely Outdoors offered, “I did something that I could never imagine: cross country skiing. I loved it!”

   While the trips themselves invoke joy for participants, Villarreal stated that it was the people who work at Mainely Outdoors that made her experience even better, “they encourage you to take advantage of the beauty of Maine, and they make the trips really fun.”

   Mainely Outdoors is located at 144 Quebec Street, Farmington, Maine. You can check out their upcoming trips on Mycampus under the UMF Events Calendar.

Dam Good Eats Presents: Adventures to The Big Stop

By Jeremy Austin & Eryn Finnegan Staff Reporter & President

After a long trip, these voracious writers, stomachs fiending for a scrap of food, searched for a quick, cheap alternative to the fast food, which they spent too much money on already. They stopped at the ever-familiar truck stop on Rt. 4 Wilton Road, nestled between the credit union and the Farmington Ford/Mercury dealership: The Big Stop, a restaurant attached to a Circle K and an Irving. It’s a wonderful place to pick up a hot batch of mozzarella sticks -bursting with gooey cheese, or a large slice of the rich chocolate cream pie.

   Stepping into the Big Stop, one nearly forgets they have also stepped into an Irving gas station. The two entities are separated enough to allow for an immersive dining experience. Soft yellow lights warmed the dining area as the sun set outside, and the smell of grilling meat and fresh, generously salted french fries wafted from the kitchen doors and out to the bar where they waited to be seated. After missing out on breakfast sandwiches with donuts replacing the bread, the duo was ready to devour anything on the menu that looked remotely appetizing and nutritional. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as their eyes scanned the spiral bound menu, but it was quickly evident their sandwich craving had not fully subsided.

    Fortunately, a hot reuben and a delicious-looking whiskey BBQ burger came to save their hungry stomachs. The reuben was quite delightful. Its sauerkraut, corned beef and Swiss cheese all working in perfect harmony with every bite. The sandwich was served on marble rye bread and, although still hearty in its own right, was panini-esque in nature. Thousand Island dressing was served on the side in a small plastic cup, which the reuben (or the fries it came with) could be dipped in. Either option is highly suggested.

   The Whiskey BBQ Burger was a standout item on the menu, boasting sizzling, steaming grilled patties and homemade whiskey barbecue sauce. this burger paired with a steaming batch of fries is a fist pump of greasy, indulgent, tasty victory. Sauteed onions spilled onto the plate with each bite, the tomatoes were juicy, and the whiskey BBQ sauce gave a small burst of heat just intense enough to keep me wanting more.

   In terms of ingredients, the burger and fries were standard, but the fact that they were cooked perfectly elevates this classic pairing. The flavor of the onions, tomato, burger, and sauce all in one bite offered a reminder that these recipes and ingredients are cooked together for a reason: they balance each other out by offering spiciness, sweeness, and saltiness simultaneously.

   Bookending these lively entrées were mozzarella sticks and slices of chocolate cream pie. The mozzarella sticks, though small in number, were big in flavor. Each bite left behind thick tendrils of cheese as we pulled the sticks apart: the mark of a true artisan mozzarella stick. The slices of pie were about the width of Eryn’s face, but that didn’t stop these reporters from stuffing their faces until their lips had been replaced with crumbs, smears of chocolate frosting and whipped cream. Jeremy’s fiance, who had decided to accompany them on this culinary adventure, was clearly unimpressed by these animalistic behaviors.

   Overall, while their appetites at the time may have influenced their ratings, the writers were pleased with the food and the service that the Big Stop provided. The writers give The Big Stop a rating of six mozzarella sticks out of six—they would most certainly be eating there again.

Vagina Monologues Brings Women Empowerment to the Stage

By Allison Jarvis Contributing Writer

    The Vagina Monologues are back and the cast has worked hard to deliver this year’s performance with strength, power and hope for their fellow classmates.

   This performance includes a series of monologues about sexual events and body acceptance delivered from the viewpoints of women of varying ages, backgrounds, and races. It has received criticism in the past for being offensive, but others find the show to be empowering and inspiring.

   “The ultimate goal we have with the Vagina Monologues is to spread knowledge on women’s health, sexuality, and difficult topics like rape and assault,” said McCulloch. “We want to end the stigma surrounding the woman’s body, and we want others to be more comfortable talking about their struggles. We want people to talk about this stuff regularly.”

   Because of the casts passion to fulfill their goal, the emotion needed to significantly illustrate the monologues is already present. Mary Ellms, one of the directors, said, “This year, we haven’t had to do much to help the actors access the emotions behind the pieces with the #metoo movement and other recent events around sexual assault, sexuality, gender identity, and feminism, the actors are already understanding these monologues in ways that I didn’t as a UMF student a little more than a decade ago.”

   With only a month to rehearse, the cast did not waste a minute: “We have such a short time to prepare for the show, like three or four weeks,” said cast member Pearl Wilson, during an email interview. “A lot of the work we do is in memorization and being able to tell the story of our monologue.”

   The cast begins memorizing their monologues early on, since “each rehearsal involves at least one run-through of the show or a run-through of each person’s monologue,” said cast member Eila McCulloch, “There’s a lot of work and effort that goes into each one.”

   “I spend a lot of time with the script,” said Ellms, one of the directors. “I read and reread each monologue dozens of times and build an image in my head of what I’d like the overall picture to be for that monologue.” Ellms admitted, though, that sometimes this image will change during the rehearsal process due to the ideas presented by her co-director, Pickering, or by the other performers.

   Ellms is not the only person who presents a goal for each monologue. “For me, it’s about opening conversation,” said cast member Bethany Wicks. “It’s about not being afraid to talk about vaginas or even just saying the word.” Wicks sentimentiments reveal the casts overall goal for the production.

   The monologues cover some sensitive topics that might be triggering to some people. A few describe harrowing tales of sexual assault in strong detail. “Some of these monologues are really hard to process,” said McCulloch, “luckily for me, I have a more humorous monologue this year. But even listening to some of the others is difficult. One of Jurnee’s [Vagina Monologues cast member] lines makes me tear up every single time she says it.”

   According to Ellms, though the monologues “can be triggering,” they are also necessary. Ellms recalled a conversation that the cast had during a rehearsal about how audience members will most likely be able to connect at least one line of the performance, maybe even an entire monologue, to their own lives: “If that’s really true,” said Ellms, “then we have to tell these stories for the people who are living similar experiences but who can’t tell their own stories yet. These monologues allow a lot of people to feel ‘seen,’ even if they’re not ready to share their personal experiences.”

   But despite the heavy-handed emotions, the directors and cast members were determined to deliver a message of empowerment and are hopeful that the audience will still be thinking about it after they leave. “I think the Vagina Monologues can make people uncomfortable just because people usually don’t talk or think about vaginas like that,” said Wilson. “I hope that people confront their discomfort or even become empowered to love their own vagina.”

   One cast member recalls how the Vagina Monologues empowered her. “The first time I saw the Vagina Monologues, I was in the eighth grade and I had giant googly eyes the entire performance!” said Wilson. “It blew my little brain! The Vagina Monologues empowered me as a young woman so I am happy I get to be part of them now.”

   If anyone wishes to participate in the Vagina Monologues, the show is performed once every year on campus. Contact Mary Ellms or Gavin Pickering for details.