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Swat’s Culture of Athletes Supporting Athletes

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As the Men’s Basketball team completed their final seconds of the Centennial Conference Championship game, the crowd erupted and rushed the court to celebrate the win. This crowd was distinctly comprised of fellow athletes with almost every team having at least one representative in attendance for the victory. Here at Swarthmore, athletes support athletes. The pictures and videos from the Men’s Basketball and Women’s Soccer Championships make this fact visually apparent. This support comes from awareness of events, love of sports, and an understanding of other athletes.

        For some athletes, their awareness of games comes from their teammates, whereas for others it is simply conversations with friends to keep them updated. Events such as this weekend’s upcoming basketball games are well publicized, but sometimes it is easy to forget the regular season games for various teams and that’s when teammates can come in handy.

Women’s Softball pitcher, Emily Bowman ’18 said, “As a team, we keep each other posted on the games that are going on throughout the week, and we try to save seats for each other to get as many people from our team together at a game.”

Coaches often like to remind their teams when other events are as well, to both support their fellow coaches or to set an example for an atmosphere that they would love to have at their own games.

Volleyball setter Elise Cummings ’19 said, “Our coach makes a big point of having us go to other sports teams’ games because she thinks it’s always important that student athletes support each other.”

The genuine love of sports makes a general awareness and commitment to attend games possible. While all tend to love and excel at their own sport, they have either come in with a true love of other sports or have developed an interest based on their friends’ sports.

Runner Joaquin Delmar ’18 said, “I have grown to like new sports from my time here at Swarthmore and I love the fact that my friends are playing these sports.”

There certainly are some sports that get more support than other, as component of their style and performance.

“Men’s basketball, both soccer teams, and men’s lacrosse in my opinion get the bulk of our support. It has to do largely with how well these teams are doing and the nature of the sporting event,” Delmar said.

Hopefully this support will continue for the Garnet’s Men’s Basketball team into the NCAA tournament. During the playoffs, more fans typically attend the games. It is safe to say that the bedrock crowd finds its majority in fellow athletes. Within this program there is a strong sense of camaraderie as we are all athletes, classmates and friends.

Defensive lacrosse player Christina Labows ’18 said, “I believe Swarthmore athletics has a good culture. It is balanced in the sense that we celebrate each other’s accomplishments, but recognize that results are not the end-all-be-all of our time as a Swarthmore athlete.”

        This bond within the athletics department does not always carry over into non-athletic realms on campus.

Cummings said, “Within the athletic department there is a really positive culture, but from the outside looking in there is not the best view which is why it is so important to support each other.”

Often, athletes tend to understand each other well, but not all students are on the same page about the commitment to sports.

        “There is a definite disconnect between athletes and non-athletes on campus,” Bowman said.

However, other people who agreed with the initial disconnect also remarked on the efforts that the college has undertaken to make the athletics realm more appealing for certain non-athletes. Some non-athletes are unaware many athletes do get into Swarthmore completely on their own academic merit and it is important to break that misconception that they do not.

“Continued efforts to break the sporty boundary are definitely happening and I think our campus is reaching a point where non-athletes are much closer to athletes. In my three years, I have seen increasing appreciation for the commitment athletes have for their sports and the way they represent our school,” Delmar said.

This growing community throughout the college is key, and the inroads that teams, such as the soccer and basketball teams, are making by competing in playoffs are vital to increase support on campus. Swarthmore athletics have certainly had past disappointments with support, such as when the fan bus to the Men’s Basketball away playoff game got cancelled last year because not enough students signed up. While we need to work to add to the fan base so that we will never have to cancel a fan bus again, at least we always know that there will be fellow athletes at games.

“The athletes at our school are great! Everyone is very supportive. We’re such a small school that many athletes interact with each other in classrooms. We all know each other’s sports and I genuinely feel everyone is supportive of each other,” Delmar said.

Each year Swarthmore welcomes in new athletes, who then commit themselves to this same support system. Hopefully a continued excellence in sports will draw large crowds, but when in doubt, even on a team’s toughest day, they can have faith that their fellow athletes will be in the stands to cheer them on no matter what.

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