by Madison Archer, Contributing Writer
The UMF Dance Team is looking for members to join. Last season they lost 4 seniors and concerned students following the pandemic.
COVID-19 has significantly changed sports, clubs and school. For the Dance Team it has made it hard to practice while physically distancing, it’s difficult to find a space large enough to accommodate all members.
Alyssa Leonard, a senior and President of the team, said that finding room is one of their main struggles. “I guess just finding space. I’m sure other groups are dealing with that as well,” said Leonard.
Alyssa Leonard, President of the UMF Dance Team, has elaborate plans for the team to dance safely this season.
Photo courtesy of Sam Shirley.
In the past, the Dance Team has performed at TD Garden in Boston during Celtics games. This past March, their trip was cancelled due to COVID-19. “I don’t think [the trip] will happen this year,” said Leonard. “But the hope will be that we can set the team up to be financially ready to do it the following year.”
The team normally performs at halftime during UMF basketball games. Now, there are new COVID regulations where fans are unable to watch in person. The Dance Team has decided to focus on learning routines, having fun and creating workshops. “Right now we’re trying to start [team practices] outside so we will be physically together as much as possible,” Leonard said.
Even though the Dance Team has faced struggles with practicing and performing this semester, they haven’t stopped planning events that could involve the UMF community and beyond. The team is hoping to show a virtual showcase with UMF clubs, such as Clefnotes, Deep Treble, Bust-A-Move Beavers, The Lawn Chair Pirates and the cheer team at the Narrow Gauge drive-in theater for a show for UMF students.
Leonard is also hoping to plan a virtual showcase collaborating with other dance teams from different colleges and universities. “My hope is that we can compile a bunch of things from across New England and then make it into a YouTube video, kind of like a movie for our friends and families to watch,” Leonard said.
For those interested in joining the Dance Team, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Auditions are not required and students with little or no experience are welcome.
By Devon Hall – Contributing Writer
The Happy Hands Sign Language Club is attempting to gain traction as their constitution is reviewed by the Student Senate. With many clubs already on campus, it can be difficult to create something new. Happy Hands plans to do just that with a club based on lessons in ASL as well as Deaf culture and grammar.
If approved, the club meetings will most likely begin with a discussion of any upcoming events being put on by the club or the Deaf community and then continue with a short lesson in ASL and some interactive practice in conversation. Meetings will most likely take place Thursday evenings.
Elizabeth (“Iggy”) Prescott, the hopeful President of the club, says she first noticed students’ interest in casually learning sign language while she was at summer experience. During the week, she participated in a talent show where she signed along to the song “This Is Halloween”.
“My original plan was to run the club like a class” said Prescott. “But then I figured that it wasn’t suitable for a bunch of students to try to go to another class”.
The club would most likely commence next semester if the constitution goes through. In order to introduce the community to ASL and advertise the club, Prescott plans to orchestrate signing events, during which any interested club members will sign along to songs ,“depending on how people take to it,” Prescott said.
In the event that Happy Hands is approved, club officials will be determined by vote. Prescott says the club currently has a pretty strong following.
“Most of the clubs I’ve been to have had 6 to twenty people” she said, “but there’s already thirty people in our Facebook group”.
Prospective secretary Emily Mokler, a Junior who recently transferred from SMCC, was introduced to ASL by Prescott during summer experience. “At mealtimes we chat and she teaches me words and phrases in ASL, which is really fun” she said.
Mokler says she mostly enjoys learning basic words and phrases, “so I could at least have a basic conversation.” She has enjoyed it all the more in learning with Prescott, since “there’s actually someone to sign back with!” Mokler also noted that she hopes learning ASL will help open doors and increase career opportunities down the road.
Learning sign language is not without its quirks, as Prescott admitted, “Sometimes when I’m tired, I start to sign when I’m talking”. Prescott says she also finds herself playing ASL fingerspelling games when she’s in the car, trying to spell words on street signs quickly before they pass her by.
Interested students can find out more by contacting Prescott or Mokler.
Emily Mokler – Contributing Writer
UMF’s Ultimate Disc Club focused on recruitment this Fall by showing off the fun and competitive sides of the game.
Tim Pacini, a UMF senior and co-President of the club, credits the increase in new members to playing on the Mantor Green.
“One of our biggest and best recruitment tools is simply tossing a disc on the green,” Pacini said. “People come and hang out, think it’s fun, come to a practice and they’re hooked.”
Justin Davis, a recent sophomore transfer, joined the club a few weeks ago. “When I first joined, I wanted to find something that would keep me active and moving,” Davis said. “I got into Ultimate because I saw people playing on the green, and they invited me to play with them.”
Davis was at the club fair on September 13th and “a lot of people were saying things like ‘I don’t know I’m not really that good.’ To them I usually say, neither am I,” he admitted. “We encourage anyone to join no matter the skill.”
Ultimate Disc Club Member’s at the Fall 2017 Club Fair from L to R : Cory McCullough, Justin Reid Davis and Tim Bullard. (Photo by Mitchell Walston)
Ultimate is like a combination of soccer’s running and football’s passing and field. Tim Bullard, a Senior Community Health major and captain of the team, said, “the running is physically demanding. In a tournament, playing up to ten games in two days is hard on your body.”
Bullard praised the new members of the club. “The freshmen this year are excited about playing,” he said. “They’re really enthusiastic about the game.”
Recent freshman recruit Sylvie Fenderson said, “I played ultimate in high school and knew I wanted to continue in college, whether with the team or just playing pickup.”
The team practices 5 days a week, but members don’t have to attend every practice. It’s a reflection of the flexibility the club has to offer. Bullard attends practice three times per week, and there are causal members who practice once per week. “It’s a much different atmosphere than varsity sports, which I’ve done in the past,” Bullard said. “It’s still competitive, but we have fun too.”
Exercise, competition and schedule flexibility are not the only contributing factors for player retainment. Bullard said, “Over the past four years, I’ve made friends through Ultimate, some are my best friends.”
Blair Bailey, a senior and the treasurer of the club, shared this sentiment. “The people who recruited me last year made it sound so fun so I thought I would give it a try,” Bailey said. “Those people have now become my current teammates, but even better they have become some of my closest friends.”
The Ultimate Disc Club has been a club sport at UMF since 1997. They fundraise by hosting tournaments at UMF, where Ultimate teams from other colleges register to play. The team went to Orono for their first tournament of the semester.
Pacini encourages interested students to “come on out to a practice and try it out. Look up the club’s Facebook page and join it to see practice times or if there’s a pick-up game going on.”
Their page can be found by searching Facebook for “UMF Ultimate Disc Club.”