Fall is associated with the first day of school, but for some students, it’s the start of a grueling but exciting athletic season. With numerous wins already, the fall athletic season at Franklin & Marshall is officially underway. Two athletes on a fall sports swim team sat down with The College Reporter to give an inside look into what life is like as a student-athlete at F&M. 

TCR: How long have you been playing your sport?

Male: 11 Years

Female: Since I was 6 years old. 

TCR: What made you decide to swim at F&M? 

Male: When I was deciding what college I would attend, F&M had a very impressive team. They had just gotten 2nd in the Centennial Conference championships. The prestige is also very good. Even though I got into higher-ranked schools, I was still more inclined to go to F&M due to the athletics. 

TCR: Describe the environment of the season-is it stressful? Rewarding? Exciting?

Male: Personally, the season is quite helpful. It forces me to have a structure that I would otherwise not have. However, it can be incredibly stressful at times. For example, last year I struggled with the beginning of the second semester while still in season. 

Female: The environment during the season is just a lot. We all have our days, good and bad. But being on a team like this one makes all the difference. We are all supporting each other because we are all tired and sore. It’s the fact that we are all experiencing it all at once that makes it better. I wouldn’t ask for another team.

TCR: Describe the team dynamic. What is your favorite part of being a part of the team?

Male: The team dynamic is quite relaxed for the most part. I would say that most of the team likes it but it seems as the semesters move forward, and the workload increases, they can be quite unenthusiastic. The team does lack some leadership but that can be attributed to the new coaching staff set in place last year. 

Female: The team dynamic can be a lot sometimes, I can’t really explain it you kind of have to be on the team to know. Since on the team both mens and womens team practice together there are a lot of personalities, which makes every practice fun and interesting. As a team, we all care, we are still doing it, but also we have to think about the fact that we are a D3 team. Most of the team members came here for academics and our sport is something that we do for fun. My favorite parts about being on this team are the people,and the memories I have. I have met some of my favorite people on this team. I still talk to team members that have graduated last year. I love every single girl on this team and would do anything for them no matter what. 

TCR: What is one criticism you have about the athletic program at F&M?

Male: I think that there is a large disconnect between the athletic teams and the rest of the school. I noticed from my freshman year that, when on a sports team, you are encouraged to limit yourself to that group. In other words, there is a lack of incentive to meet new people when you are on a sports team. The administration should do its part in helping athletes assimilate into the rest of the school. We are students first. Another disheartening thing that the administration has done is not introduce the teams to their athletic directors. If there is a problem with your team, coach, or even something not related to our sport, we are supposed to reach out to Phillip Miller. However, I do not believe a single person on the team has met this person. A sad but telling fact. 

Female: One criticism that I would say is that they don’t really listen or take into account what the athletes want or need.

As you can see, the responses differentiate about team dynamic and the environment of the season. The male player says the team dynamic is more relaxed and that the environment provides structure, while the female has a more stressful perception. However, both athletes come to a consensus about F&M isolating student-athletes to the student body or their athletic directors. While we are a D3 school, students tour other schools and choose to bring their athletic abilities to F&M. Shouldn’t F&M match the amount of time that athletes put into F&M? 

Response from Lauren Packer Ward, Director of Athletics and Recreation at Franklin & Marshall College: F&M student-athletes are incredibly devoted to the pursuit of excellence in the classroom, competition and community.  With input from the Student-Athlete Leadership Council, a group of more than 50 student-athletes representing 28 varsity teams and more than 600 student-athletes, the department of athletics & recreation seeks to maximize the student-athlete experience.  Our goal is to listen, learn and provide opportunities for student-athletes to compete at the highest level while complementing the mission of the College.

Sophomore Catherine Welch is an Investigative Reporter. Her email is cwelch@fandm.edu.