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.

Opinion: Campus Police Email Limits Outreach of Art Installation

Avery Ryan Contributing Writer

   The familiar ding of an Instagram notification jumped across my phone late on Sunday, March 31. Intrigued, I looked into the profile that had followed me. I wasn’t expecting the incredibly provocative artwork of UnBEARable UMF.

   My first reactions were of intrigue and curiosity. The bravery of this artist to not only spray political graffiti on university buildings but to parade said graffiti on social media was astounding. The passion for spreading awareness that inspired this courage was successful; I immediately looked further into the Yemeni Civil War mentioned in the account’s first post. I also felt a strange reservation— should I follow this account? If I do, will somebody think I did the graffiti?

   This fear emphasized what was so successful in a piece like this. Provocative public artwork lives on a wide spectrum of success, and this piece’s mystery solidified its accomplishment in starting conversation around its focal topics. This conversation was multiplied in the apparent shock that spread through campus in those first 24 hours. Calls to campus police, whispers among friends, and support and rejection of this approach surged across campus, leading to the premature climax of the exhibit: an email from Director of Public Safety, Brock Caton.

   “Paw Prints Are Not Vandalism — The paw prints seen around campus are an on-going art project and do not need to be reported to Campus Police.  For more information, please see the email traffic below.”

   This short interjection into the project stands out as equally fantastic and disappointing. The confirmation of this being “an on-going art project” and not graffiti removed the assumed bravery of the artwork. It remained meaningful, yet lost much of its power. When I see the paw prints scattered across campus I no longer am driven to discover the motivation for such an installation. I no longer had that spark from the first 24 hours— the excitement and drive to understand why this person had been inspired to such bravery. This email violated my experience of the artistic merit of this project, as I’m sure it did for many others. By sending this email as quickly as they did, campus police prevented a number of students from that initial spark of curiosity that was present from Sunday night to Monday morning.

   Was this a perspective that was unique to me? I sat down for a brief conversation with Student Senate Presidential candidate Jess Freeborn on the subject. “I didn’t see any of the paw prints until after the email was sent out. I think people were alarmed by them.” Freeborn said. “I think I would have been more curious if I had seen the artwork before the email.”

   Nick St. Germain, a senior, echoed these sentiments. “[The paw prints] were pointed out to me specifically as an art project. I didn’t see a point to look further into it because it was just an art project. I would’ve been more excited if I’d seen it and thought it was graffiti.”

   I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that both students were robbed of the excitement and curiosity of first seeing the artwork in its purest form. Their perspective had been modified and the artwork had been limited in its reach.

   Was this the correct approach by campus police? As a university with an occasionally provocative arts program, more flexibility from campus police would have been incredibly beneficial. Imagine the conversations spread across campus had that email been sent out later— the historical and contemporary issues raised by UnBEARable UMF would have stood greater ground and the mystery of what would come next would have been an incredible excitement.

Checking in on Spring Student Teachers

By Avery Ryan Contributing Writer

  The projector whirs with the display of a world map. A flurry of Expo markers paints rules, legends, and keys across the expanse of the whiteboard. Students ponder, murmur, and think. Suddenly, a spark. Discussion deepens, smiles spread across students faces as their understanding grows. The bell rings and students rise from their seats, but discussion has not stopped.

   “That’s my goal. To have a classroom that is both engaging and enjoyable,” said Isaac Michaud, a social studies student teachers at Skowhegan Area High School. Michaud, like all spring student teachers, has reached the halfway point of his assignment. “I felt prepared educationally, [in January, when he started student teaching] but I was still very nervous… you never know what can happen in a classroom.”

   Michaud emphasized how valuable the experience of student teaching has been for him. “I hadn’t been in the classroom in a while, and being in a classroom teaching what I love made me want to teach.” Even will all of his classes, Michaud felt that there was much to be gained from student teaching. “You can be taught lesson plans and strategies, but you can’t prepare for the behavior and interactions from students and faculty.”

   Chelsea Ballard, another student teacher, offered a different perspective going into her assignment: “In October I joined this class for the Advanced Practicum and transitioned right to student teaching in January… I already knew my mentor teacher, the staff, and my kiddos so I wasn’t introduced to anything new. My perspective on teaching hasn’t changed, and this has confirmed that this is exactly what I want to to do with my life. I look forward to getting up and going to school everyday.”

   Both student teachers noted the “lightbulb moments” as their favorite times in their placements. “This student was really confused one day during math instruction. I noticed, and took the time to sit down with the student one on one and break down what we were doing,” said Ballard. “At the end of my explanation, a light bulb went on in the students head, and they finally understood. I love being able to have those special moments with my students. It makes me feel like I am doing a good job.”

   Similarly, Michaud stated that “It was one of my first activities with a senior group. I was nervous about how close we were in age, and it was an activity focused on the development of countries. They got really into the activity and asked if we could do it again with different countries. They left the class smiling.”

   On the topic of obstacles, both Michaud and Ballard noted how difficult it is to balance their personal lives with teaching. “Whether it be managing time with schoolwork, or trying to have a social life, it can be pretty difficult,” said Ballard. “As a college student there are a lot of different times during the day to do schoolwork. When you are teaching, there is barely any time to go to the bathroom. So learning how to manage your time for schoolwork and a social life can be challenging.”

   Michaud echoed Ballard’s thoughts: “In teaching you can only plan so far ahead. When I get home I’m doing all kinds of other work.” Michaud continued with advice from his mentor, “You have to ask yourself, ‘Is it important, or urgent?’ Does it have to happen now or can it happen tomorrow? Go for that run, hang out with friends – take care of yourself.”

   As far as advice for future student teachers, Michaud said “Don’t be afraid to take risks that are different from your mentors approach, and don’t get caught up in all of your outside work for seminar. Take care of yourself, then your students, then seminar.”

   Ballard offered another perspective: “Take every opportunity you can get. Go to every meeting, every parent teacher conference, and really get to know your kids. You would be surprised to how much you learn about yourself as a teacher from your students. Kids need us and we need them.”

Opinion: The Masculine Responsibility in Making Our Campus Safe

By Avery Ryan Contributing Writer


   In light of recent perspectives of sexual assault on campus, I found myself horrified and at a loss for words. Over the past three and a half years that I spent at UMF, I had seen the school as incredibly safe. I thought that extreme cases of sexual violence and injustice were something that happened “elsewhere,” and that my little campus was immune to – and absent of – these issues.

   My ignorance has reached its end. I can no longer unconsciously pretend that these problems do not exist on my campus. I had to take a long look at myself to understand why I was unaware of these problems, and what I could do to contribute to their reduction.

   One of the reasons why I was so unaware of these issues was my own safety regarding sexual violence. Anybody can be a victim of sexual assault, and that fact cannot be understated. However, as a tall, broad-shouldered white man who doesn’t go out much, my chances are falling victim to sexual assault are incredibly slim. This narrow probability limited my perspective. If I didn’t have to be cautious of the signs of predation, why should I have known what they are, or be able to recognize them? Through my privilege I am allowed a barrier of safety that is incredibly difficult to empathize through.

   Stepping into the shoes of somebody who is absent of this privilege is difficult, but allows for a bit of understanding in what the possession of this privilege means. I can go for a run at night without being afraid, I can put my drink down at a party with little fear, I’ve never been catcalled while walking to class, and I’ve never been faced with abrasive flirtatiousness at my workplace. These examples only scratch the surface, but the discomfort they cause cannot be invalidated.

   If your immediate response is to argue with these examples, take a second to think about why. Is it the word “privilege?” Do you think that catcalling is “fun,” or that the person being yelled at should “take it as a compliment?” Do you find nothing wrong with being flirted with while you’re at work?

   If you feel abrasion towards “privilege,” – why? Does the word make you feel as if your accomplishments are not earned, or that you have a certain allowance provided to you by biological traits that you can’t control? This negative perspective is incredibly damaging, and is certainly incorrect. By acknowledging privilege you are not losing recognition of your successes. By acknowledging privilege you are allowing yourself to see the world as if you didn’t have that benefit.

   Step into the shoes of the employee being flirted with at work: you’re in a place of obligation, trying to do your job. You have nowhere to go to remove yourself from this conversation, and the pervasive flirtatiousness is making you uncomfortable. However, you are also a customer service representative— another reason why you cannot end the conversation. You are trapped and uncomfortable. Is this something that happens to men as well? Totally. But the frequency and intensity of these moments is multiplied by one’s gender.

   Coincidentally, as the courageous victims of sexual assault have made their stories heard, Gillette released the ad campaign “The Best Men Can Be.” This campaign analyzed decades of stereotypical masculinity in advertising, and Gillette pledged to make strides in distancing themselves from various aspects of toxicity in its advertising. This campaign was met with various negative – and occasionally aggressive – feedback on social media. The responses fought against the ad, labeling it as propaganda and inappropriate for Gillette to comment upon such topics. Despite this criticism, the campaign’s focus is on sexual harassment and bullying— acts that should be universally agreed upon preventing. The campaign takes a firm stance on men needing to hold other men accountable for their behavior and asks that we make strides toward redefining our characteristics of masculinity.

   The timing of this campaign, while coincidental, is inarguably eye-opening. Sexual assault and harassment is present everywhere, and its existence on our campus requires significant action from all parties that hold a semblance of responsibility. For men on campus, it is necessary that we take a stance on holding our friends accountable for their actions. We can no longer tolerate moments of toxicity that would previously labeled as “just guys being guys.”

   The darkness in each of these survivor’s stories is incredibly disheartening, and in many ways it is frustrating to feel helpless in contributing to solutions. However, by holding each other accountable for our words and actions we can contribute in some way to making our campus a safer place.

FRC Group Fitness Classes Adopt “Phase” System

By Avery Ryan Contributing Writer

   This January the Fitness and Recreation Center (FRC) adjusted its community group fitness classes to the classification system used by the University’s PHE-010 courses.

   The transition to the “Phase” system follows three years after its implementation in the PHE classes. Previous to phases, the mandatory PHE class was separated into specific forms of exercise, including Play Fit, Aquatics, Strength & Conditioning, and Cardiovascular Fitness.     

   This separation saw mixed success until Assistant Director Alison Thayer “had an epiphany during one of [her] personal training courses.” Thayer, the Director of Fitness and PHE Coordinator, found inspiration in the American Council of Exercise’s separation of fitness into four phases and adjusted these categories to better fit PHE.

   The result was a separation of PHE into three phases:

  • Phase 1: Designed for the entry-level exerciser, Phase 1 is intended for those with little to no fitness experience.
  • Phase 2: A middle-level fitness group. Participants in this group are familiar with some forms of exercise but still retain some unfamiliarity or need additional instruction.
  • Phase 3: This phase is intended for those who are familiar with most types of exercise. These are your high school athletes and passionate fitness enthusiasts.

   The phases also did away with specific categories of fitness interest. Instead of having to choose between Play Fit and Aquatics, for example, students would be exposed to all options of fitness in one form or another through their time in PHE. “I wanted the students to have a more well-rounded experience,” said Thayer. Group Fitness Coordinator Mike Colella added, “It gives students the opportunity to say where they are in their own fitness.”

   This change to phases has also impacted instructors at the FRC. The phases require that instructors have a more holistic understanding of fitness and are better trained and prepared for diverse exercise experiences. “Instructors need a larger toolbox and an open attitude,” said Thayer, “We found that [they] are communicating more and requesting for guest instructors more often.” Thayer has found that this change has been successful, emphasizing greater consistency in fitness familiarity inside of individual classes— allowing for a stronger sense of camaraderie through PHE.

   Starting in January all group fitness classes are being adjusted to the phases that PHE recently adopted. Thayer detailed, “We are trying to put similar PHE standards on the community members.” The group fitness schedule now labels its classes according to the PHE phases and includes descriptions on what the phases mean. Thayer emphasized that these labels are suggestions and that part of being a fitness instructor is being prepared to make modifications for members with different levels of fitness experience.

   In labeling classes according to these classifications, Colella was surprised. “[We had] the realization that we didn’t have enough entry-level classes.” Colella continued excitedly, “Now we have at least one [Phase One class] six out of seven days a week.”

   Thayer echoed this excitement, “Our goal is to get anybody who has ever wanted to attend a group fitness class the opportunity to do so.” Thayer also hopes that these changes will make the group fitness classes more accessible for UMF students.

   Thayer also emphasized how this change has allowed for her PHE instructors to transition into becoming group fitness instructors. Instructors are better prepared and gain experience across multiple fields of exercise. Thayer concluded, “We are part of an educational institution, and our mission is education— for our student instructors and students alike.”

   The group fitness schedule is available on the Fitness and Recreation Center’s page on the University website and is available in paper in the lobby of the FRC.