UMF Athletics Creates Racial Equity Committee

By Paige Lilly, Contributing Writer

    The UMF Athletics Department recently announced the start of its Racial Equity Committee (REC), which aims to create a safe environment where racially marginalized students can share their experiences while also working to make an impact here on campus. The REC announced its official presence on Monday in an Instagram post.

    The group began soon after Molly Wilkie was named the UMF Athletics Diversity and Inclusion designee, a new role the NCAA now requires schools to have. As part of a group of people with this same designation at their respective Maine Division III (DIII) Universities, Wilkie realized that UMF was one of the few schools yet to have a group of this type. “I learned that many of the other schools had coalitions and groups specifically for their student athletes of color [the names of the groups are all slightly different],” Wilkie said in an email. “After learning about what other schools were doing I thought it was something vital that UMF athletics should be engaging in as well.” 

    Wilkie then reached out to a number of students-athletes who she thought may want to be a part of the group. “Molly emailed us and asked if it would be something we were interested in,” said Chloe Horn, a junior, field hockey player and a member of REC. “I believe she got the list of our names from our various coaches. Then we were able to set up our first meeting.” 

    Wilkie stressed the importance of student leaders like Horn in the success of the group thus far. “Although I am facilitating this group, it is all about the student-athlete leaders and working to support and amplify their voices and ideas,” said Wilkie. 

    The group aims to provide students who identify as non-white with a safe space to discuss their experiences. “Our group … wants to create a safe space for racially marginalized student-athletes for support and advocacy,” Wilkie said. “The group also wants to play a role in helping to educate about and identify the racial inequities that exist on our campus.” 

    “It’s the start of a conversation many students here don’t realize needs to be had,” said sophomore Mullein Francis, who is a nordic skier for UMF and a member of REC. “Because we all go to a school that is mostly white, I think a lot of people think, ‘Oh, it’s rural Maine, we don’t have to worry about that here,’ but in reality we do,” said Francis. “There are a lot of people here who deal with this kind of thing, and it’s good to be able to talk about it with people who understand.” 

    In fact, it’s that understanding that sparked the friendship between Horn and Francis. “We didn’t know each other before the group, it kind of started our friendship,” Horn said, sharing a laugh with Francis.  

    In that way, they believe the group is already beginning to be successful in bringing students who identify as non-white together, but they won’t stop there. “We have a lot of big goals,” said Francis. “We are thinking about eventually hopefully having a system where we can include other students as well, not just student athletes.” 

    However, Francis and Horn both agreed that the group needs a strong foundation before they can move to that goal. “We’re so ambitious, but we know that if we get too excited and try to move too fast it might hurt us in the long run. We know we need to build the group so that it’s strong, doing little events before big ones,” said Horn. In these efforts, these student-athletes believe they will be able to start an important conversation that lasts even after they graduate from UMF.

    Any questions about REC should be brought to their Instagram account @umf_rec or emailed to Molly Wilkie at molly.wilkie@maine.edu. 

The Dance Team Plans for a Safe Fall Season

The Dance Team Plans for a Safe Fall Season

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 Dance Team

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 umf.danceteam-group@maine.edu. Auditions are not required and students with little or no experience are welcome. 

Intramural Sports Kick Off the New School Year

by Faith Rouillard, Contributing Writer

    Over 125 students signed up to participate in kickball, thus launching intramural sports for the 2020-21 school year at UMF. 

    “Intramural sports are sports leagues that are designed to be played on campus with our UMF community,” said FRC Assistant Director Leah Brackett. Students began with kickball and after a two week season and a one week playoff period, the sport and teams will switch completely. 

    Games take place four nights a week at the FRC: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8:00-11:00 p.m. Each game takes no more than an hour and not every team plays all four nights. Senior and kickball caption Ella Russel said, “It’s important to move your body, and this a fun way to stay active!”

    “Intramurals are very important right now,” said Brackett. “It is a way to keep our students engaged and on campus.” 

    “Intramural sports provide a way to connect with people on campus that I wouldn’t normally bump into,” said Russel. “Intramurals provide social networking, familiarity with FRC and the amenities it has, and stress relief.” Russel explained how intramural sports are an effective study break. “I recommend intramural sports to the entire student body.”

    Typically, the staff provides a variety of sports and activities, including volleyball, kickball, pickleball, indoor soccer, arena football, basketball, dodgeball, among others. This year, the staff has to be cautious in what sports can take place while maintaining social distancing guidelines. 

    Due to the pandemic, upon arrival students are met at the door by staff members to check-in. They are required to self-screen and report to the staff. “We ask that everyone sanitizes their hands and wear a mask the entire time they are in the building,” said Brackett. The FRC is closed to the public during games and doesn’t allow spectators, limiting the number of people in the building. The staff diligently disinfects equipment periodically during games as well. 

    Brackett is the intramurals coordinator and leads all student staff. Callie Hammer is this year’s student leader and makes the staff schedules, referees games, “and helps out my amazing boss, Leah Brackett,” she said. 

    “Our staff dynamics are awesome,” said Brackett. “Working intramural sports teaches confidence and conflict resolution.” A large majority of the student staff are UMF varsity athletes.

    “If you’re not on a sports team but still appreciate competition, intramural sports are a great alternative,” said Russel. Many students on varsity teams participate in intramurals but not all that participate in intramurals play varsity sports.

    “For old high school athletes, intramurals gives a sense of normalcy for being on a team again,” said Hammer. “Intramurals is a great atmosphere and a lot of the students enjoy participating.”

    “My goal is to increase participation in intramural sports,” said Brackett. The 125 students are spread out among nine kickball teams, but there is typically room for up to 16 teams. 

    “Teams are very simple to set up,” said Russel. “As the captain, I went to the Facebook page and filled out my team’s roster.” To get involved in intramural sports visit their Facebook page (UMF Intramural Sports) or their Instagram page (@umfimsports). 

    Pickleball will be the next sport to take place. Contact Leah Brackett via email at leah.brackett@maine.edu for any COVID safe suggestions, “We are open to change and always want to do what the students want,” she said.

Women’s Basketball Team Strives to Register All Players to Vote

by Cassidy Delano, Contributing Writer

    Women’s Basketball Coach Jamie Beaudoin promotes student athlete voting registration, as The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) set a 100% team registration goal.

    The National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA) and the WBCA set high expectations for their student athletes. They encouraged all coaches to get all their student athletes registered to vote. “It’s a new initiative put forth by these coaching associations,” Beaudoin said. “Not to say it hasn’t always been important, but with the presidential election coming up, and social media being so big, this information is easier to get out,”.

    Beaudoin shared this information with his team, asking who was registered and offering aid to players  wanting to get registered. Being registered isn’t something he requires for his team, but feels a responsibility to promote it. “I think the most important thing for my team is that they are aware of the opportunity to be able to vote, and that I provide them with the support they need to get registered,” Beaudoin said. 

    Chelsea Crockett, a junior on the women’s basketball team got registered to vote soon after hearing about the national goal. “Voting is important to me because it gives me a say in how things are run on a local and national level,” Crockett said. 

    Beaudoin sees the value in voting as well. “Democracy is not a spectator sport, if you are not registered to vote you can’t participate. So my goal, as well as the goal of the NABC and WBCA, is to get as many new potential voters to register to vote, making it easier for them,” Beaudoin said. 

    Molly Folsom, a Junior on the women’s basketball team, is still unconvinced about getting registered. “I can’t help but think the system is rigged,” Folsom said. “It’s about who has more money in their pocket, rather than actual democracy.”

    Crockett feels that student athletes have the ability to influence the rest of campus, and thus makes it more important for them to vote. “ I think it is important that we all are registered to vote and exercise our right to vote. We are leaders on campus and by being registered to vote we are showing how important voting is and hopefully encouraging the rest of campus to vote with us,” Crockett said. 

    Beaudoin recognizes that sometimes people don’t vote because they don’t really understand what they’re voting for. “One thing that’s really difficult is that most people understand the importance of voting, but don’t know what they’re voting for. This becomes a road block for people,” Beaudoin said. 

    Folsom agrees that lack of political knowledge is a factor that holds her back. “I sometimes feel I don’t know enough about politics to make an educated decision during an election,” Folsom said.

    Crockett encourages her teammates as well as other students on campus to vote. “I definitely think student-athletes promoting voting will help other students realize how important voting is. I think as a college student it is hard to feel like you have a say in how things are run, but this is one of the ways to show how important one vote, and one person, can be in influencing our elected officials and our laws,” Crockett said. 

    For more information about voting visit https://allintovote.org/.

Athletes to See Season Changes Due to Pandemic

by Ashley Clark Contributing Writer

     Near the end of summer break, UMF made the decision to allow student athletes to participate in their sports season; however, these seasons have been altered to align with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

    The athletics department came to this tough decision after watching numerous videos and Zoom calls from the National College Athletic Association (NCAA), led by medical professionals. 

    The department is also keeping up to date with COVID-19 trends in Maine in order to protect incoming student athletes returning to school in the fall.

    Julie Davis, Director of Athletics, worked with coaching and sports medicine staff on campus, in addition to attending meetings with athletic directors from within the sports conference. “You have challenges as a director anyway, but probably the hardest thing is dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity for a sustained period of time,” said Davis. 

    The athletic department was determined to develop a plan of action that would allow student athletes to participate in sports. They have also made it mandatory that all student athletes living on and off campus must participate in the early testing program provided by a COVID-19 testing company in the Fitness and Recreational Center (FRC).

    Fall sports such as field hockey, soccer and cross country are not able to compete, but athletes are still able to attend practices. 

    The department has developed a month long process with differing levels of intensity for each week, with the intention for safe team practices.  

    The first week of practice involved routine temperature checks with no equipment use— conditioning exercises only. All practices must also consist of physical distancing at six feet, wearing a face mask and sanitizing when possible. 

    Jade Petrie, a junior and Early Childhood Education major, participates in both field hockey and lacrosse. Wearing her mask during her practices has been hard enough, even at the start of her fall sports season. “It’s really hard to wear because when you start to run, you breathe heavily and suck in the mask,” Petrie said. “It makes it almost impossible for you to catch your breath.”

    Liz Ouellette, senior and Elementary Education major, is also a member of the field hockey team. Her last season has been impacted by the changes to the fall sports season. “There’s no team bonding, such as having dinners together, because there are too many people to be in a house. We can’t have bus rides, games, anything really,” said Ouellette.

    The athletics department is working hard to assure that athletes are able to at least practice. Many are just grateful to even be able to participate with one another. “I think it is better to have something than nothing,” says Ouellette. “It’s my senior year and having practices with a team I’ve spent the past three years with is better than not being able to at all.”

    Petrie praises all the department’s work and planning. “I’m thankful that they are letting us have an opportunity to pick up my field hockey and lacrosse stick, regardless of playing games,” says Petrie.

     COVID-19 guidelines are changing continuously, which makes it difficult to predict how the winter and spring sports seasons will look for student athletes. While fall sports already have a plan in motion, winter and spring sports are still being discussed. Winter sports are scheduled to start practicing soon. The athletic department is “planning [these seasons] with optimism,” says Davis.