By Joe Yamulla || Sports Editor
Franklin & Marshall College isn’t the only collegiate institution guilty of this. That said, as a student and sports journalist on this campus, I feel it necessary to write about this topic in relation to our school. It’s no secret that sports are a vital part of our lives and the campus community. The environment to cheer on our basketball team in the Centennial Conference Championship was electric. Our powerhouse Division III soccer program always reaps in popularity and support. The F&M football program is also recognized well around campus. However, there is a serious epidemic at hand in which student-athletes spend hours and exhaust themselves training for a sport that is less socially visual on campus and gets far less recognition than they deserve. I’m certainly guilty of it. I haven’t given teams like Rugby and Rowing, both men’s and women’s teams, the spotlight they deserve. Our wrestling program is Division I, and many times the general sentiment is that students don’t even know when the team competes. This article is intended to take the time and effort to recognize the sports teams that unfortunately aren’t in enough of the public eye, and share the great things they have accomplished in 2015-2016.
Day in and day out, men and women both on the Rugby teams devote hours of physically exhausting activity training and practicing for matches. The Rugby program has grown immensely over the years and the respect they earn on campus as athletes should reflect that. The team is hosting a tournament next week on Saturday April 9th where seven other colleges will send their Rugby Clubs. I will be covering the event and students should take the afternoon to enjoy some great games and show some love to our Rugby players.
Then, of course, we have our Diplomat rowers. This group is up at the crack of dawn almost daily to workout or row before classes start. While the rest of F&M is cozy in bed, the men’s and women’s crew teams are either working out or on the water by 5:30 am. There is strong sense of commitment in these young men and women. Men’s crew itself has no collegiate division. So, when our rowers go out there, they’re not just battling it out with schools of similar size such as Gettysburg, Dickinson, or Swarthmore. They’re out on the water going toe to toe with the bad boys of collegiate rowing, the big time programs. Recently, they competed against schools like The University of Virginia, Boston College, and Temple University. I never rowed competitively. However, I’m fascinated by the competitiveness, grit, and also the beautiful sense of unity that goes into each and every boat. Our women’s team just on Saturday won all of the three races that they raced. In the Philadelphia event, they went head to head to defeat schools like La Salle, Philadelphia University, and Washington College. Clearly, the early, cold, and sluggish mornings have been paying off for both of our teams here at F&M.
We had one of our fellow students, Rick Durso, compete at the biggest collegiate wrestling event, the NCAA D1 Wrestling Championships. Not only was this the event, but it also was at Madison Square Garden,arguably the most famous mecca for indoor sports like basketball, hockey, or wrestling. To me, as a lover of sports and this campus, it’s mind boggling that we had an F&M athlete competing in the same arena as the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, and there was no campus-wide effort to support Rick.
Sports can do so much to unify and bring a campus together. It’s beautiful to see all of the student body come together in unity. No one can deny the social and cultural divisions at this school. It’s a problem and leaders here are doing a fantastic job to make changes.
So, maybe I’m a bit biased but I think that coming together as a campus and supporting all of our athletes is a great first step to making this college a better place. We have so much talent at this school, it needs to be recognized, and we need to embrace all of it. It doesn’t matter if a program is Division III, Division I, or division-less. Let’s give all our athletes the support and attention they truly deserve.
Sophomore Joe Yamulla is the Sports Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.