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Athletes and Administration Team Up to Assist with Harvey

in Sports by

While many students eagerly left their homes for another semester at Swarthmore, leaving home was particularly challenging for a select few students, both logistically and emotionally. On the evening of Friday, Aug. 25th, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in southeast Texas as a violent Category 4 hurricane, causing billions of dollars of estimated damage, and unfortunately taking lives as well. With Houston, the fourth largest city in the U.S., and its surrounding suburbs, taking the brunt of the blow, many Swarthmore students felt the impact of the storm. Although many students lives were dramatically disrupted over the course of just a few days, they bravely left their families and homes to come back to Swarthmore.

Once here, though, the gravity of the storm still lingered for these students amidst new classes, reunited friends, and an immense amount of change. Utilizing the vast network of resources available here for altruistic endeavors and community growth, many affected students partnered with their peers to fundraise for and assist their communities back home. The athletics department in particular responded swiftly and admirably. The impact of this moving effort was felt both in Houston and here at Swarthmore, too.

Not long after details of the storm’s destruction came to light, President Valerie Smith released a formal message offering encouragement and support to all Swarthmore students affected by the tragedy. However, the end of her statement went a step further to invite all members of the Swarthmore community to help, if they felt so moved.

By uniting with those who have suffered Harvey’s impact, we can help them begin the recovery process,” Smith said.

The athletics department took this invitation to heart and immediately rushed to gather any extra equipment and clothing that could be useful in the recovery process. Professional athletes such as J.J. Watt and James Harden, as well as professional sports organizations like the National Basketball Association, and the National Football League had already provided strong examples of productive response methods in response to the hurricane. Thus, not long after, a tweet from athletic director Adam Hertz showed a truckload of boxes of athletic gear all ready to be shipped to the victims in Texas. Although the athletics department itself did not promote their generosity via social media, presumably out of humility and respect, their admirable actions did not go unnoticed by the larger Swarthmore community and the student athletes they serve.

“It really means so much to me personally that everyone here is reaching out to help my own community back home. To see that people genuinely care about the destruction, whether it affects them directly or not, reflects the true character of Swarthmore,” said Alvin Lubetkin ’20, a catcher on the baseball team and a Houston native, whose home flooded in the aftermath of the storm.

Another catcher on the baseball team, Jaron Shrock ’18, and tennis standout Maria Cuervo ’18, both Texas natives, partnered in their own unique way to fundraise. After brainstorming unique ideas, the duo decided on a fun and authentic Texan tradition, a chili cook-off, to raise both awareness and funding for those affected by the storm. Since the spirit of the event was intended for community building and fundraising, all proceeds went directly to the St. Bernard Project. This project got its start after Hurricane Katrina and has undertaken important relief and recovery work in the Houston area since Harvey. After reaching out to professors, students, and the greater Swarthmore community, Cuervo and Shrock turned the event into a huge success on Saturday evening, with 17 contestants and plenty of hungry contributors from both the college and its surrounding neighborhoods.

It was one of the few times I’ve seen so many different parts of campus working together, and I think it was a special experience for all involved,” said Shrock.

The recovery effort will no doubt continue for years to come, requiring millions of hours and dollars alike. Nevertheless, the Swarthmore community has a certain duty, even if the storm did not affect us directly, to do our part in the recovery process. Particularly with Hurricane Irma presently battering Florida, the Caribbean, and the southeast U.S., both recovery processes will overlap and require even more private aid. Fortunately, there are a number of options available to students and community members who feel inclined to help with relief efforts.

Those seeking to help can reach out to those members of our community whose families, friends, and lives were affected by the storm. President Smith also cited the American Red Cross, Global Giving, the SPCA of Texas, and the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund as options for financial contributions. The chili cook-off’s benefactor, the St. Bernard Project, also accepts donations. However, for those on a budget, Shrock suggested that students could donate blood or their time here in the Philadelphia area to fundraise or organize supplies.

Although it is hard to see the positive aspects of these horrendous disasters, they do bring together and strengthen communities. Here at Swarthmore, the athletics department came together to fundraise and make significant progress in the recovery process. Although there is still much work to be done, the Swarthmore community has stepped up in a big way to try and help the lives of those affected by the storm.

Big Saturday for Swat athletics

in Sports by

This Saturday will mark the busiest home weekend thus far on the Swarthmore Athletics calendar. Home action in various sports will be taking place at 12 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Clothier Field and Tarble Pavilion. The day is headlined by women’s volleyball, which hosts both Wilkes University and Cabrini College for the Garnet Classic and men’s soccer, who will put their undefeated record to the test when they host Wilkes.

Meanwhile, the women’s soccer team will also attempt to stay undefeated as they travel to Rowan University, while field hockey looks to heat up at Immaculata University.

The following is a primer for what is shaping up to be an exciting Saturday.

12 p.m. Garnet Classic: women’s volleyball vs. Wilkes University, Tarble Pavilion

Overview: The Garnet will carry a 2-2 record into Saturday’s matches, having taken two of four in their season-opening tournament in Salisbury, Maryland. Seniors Kate Amodei and Chastity Hopkins lead an exciting young Garnet squad that is aiming to continue the recent success of Head Coach Harleigh Chwastyk’s program.

Players to watch: Madison Heppe ’16 and Sam DuBois ’16 look to improve upon impressive 2013 campaigns that concluded with both players earning All-Centennial Conference honors. Heppe has established herself as the conference’s best libero, earning first-team All-Conference honors by keeping points alive with her conference-best 4.85 digs per set. DuBois (Centennial Conference All-Sportsmanship team) will aim to build on last season’s 8.92 assists per set average.

X-Factors: Class of 2018. Out of the 13 team members, five are first-years, more than any other class. The ability of these players to quickly make the adjustments necessary to be successful at the college level will be integral to the team’s playoff hopes.

2 p.m. Garnet Classic: women’s volleyball Cabrini College vs. Wilkes University, Tarble Pavilion

Overview: Those interested in scouting out Swarthmore’s competition will have the opportunity to do so, as the hosts will have a break for middle match of the Garnet Classic.

4 p.m. Garnet Classic: women’s volleyball vs. Cabrini College, Tarble Pavilion

Overivew: Swarthmore looks to complete what it hopes will be a perfect day by playing host to the Cavaliers in the nightcap of the Garnet Classic.

X-Factor: A strong performance will give the team momentum entering Tuesday’s 320 Challenge matchup at Widener University.

7 p.m. men’s soccer vs. Wilkes University, Clothier Field

Saturday night lights: The Garnet will perform in primetime Saturday under the bright lights of beautifully renovated Clothier Field. The team frequently gets strong crowds at its matches and a particularly large one should be expected given the day and time of the match.

Overview: The perennially nationally-ranked Garnet entered this season with less prestige but has impressed thus far, remaining unbeaten with a 3-0-0 record. Notably, the team has yet to allow a single goal, beating Rowan University Monday night when Mike Stewart ’15 found the back of the net in the 80th minute.

Players to watch: Michael Superdock ’15 returns to anchor Swarthmore’s thus far stout defense. The computer science major excels in decoding teams’ offensive attacks, so much so that he was named to the Academic All-America first team. Also back for their fourth seasons are twins Mike and Geoff Stewart ’15. The three seniors will lead an extremely young Swarthmore squad that features 14 first years.

X-Factors: Team chemistry. Soccer is truly a team sport. In order to excel in the Beautiful Game, teammates must know each others’ every move and be able to anticipate passes and game situations before they even occur. This year’s seniors likely understand this phenomenon quite well. After a 2011 season when admittedly poor team chemistry contributed to the team’s fall from top-ranked team in the country to failing to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, the 2012 season saw a less star-laden, but more cohesive team make it all the way to the Sweet 16. With so many young players, the team’s ability to play effectively together will determine their ability to succeed.

What off-season?

in Fall/Men/Sports/Women by

Imagine running 75 miles in a week. Now imagine doing that every week for the entire school year. Although this seems like a cruel form of punishment to most, the Swarthmore cross country/track team runs this heavy mileage all year round and likes it.

Immediately after their season ends in November, almost all cross country runners on the team shift over to track. In other words, “off-season” doesn’t exist. This creates a never ending cycle of long distance running, giving these year-round athletes the opportunity to create a quirky, fun-loving, and welcoming environment.

“Right from the start I felt accepted,” John Gagnon ’17 said. After getting the chance to bond with the team during summer practices, John realized how friendly the team was and how willing they were to make him feel like a part of the family. “They put candy on my door with quotes and pictures,” said John. “I thought it was really thoughtful.” Kate Crowley ’16, another year-rounder, had a similar experience meeting the team. “They were the first group of people I met in college, so even before orientation started, I already felt like I had a group of people I belonged to,” she said.

In addition to welcoming freshmen during their first couple of days at Swarthmore, the team continues to build their relationships off the track. “We spend a lot of time together,” co-captain Richard Scott ’14 said. On a typical Sunday night you’ll find the year round athletes sitting in one of the private rooms at sharples, cracking jokes and laughing with one another. “We eat together every Sunday night, but we also eat together during pretty much every meal. A lot of people think of us as a cult but we’re not! We’re just a really close family,” he said.

In addition to bonding outside of athletics, the team spends countless hours running alongside one another every day of the week. With practices including Saturday races, Sunday long runs, and a combination of high intensity maintenance workouts throughout the week, it’s no surprise that the team is able to form such strong bonds so quickly. But participating in a year-round sport brings more than just close friendships. It also forces its athletes to constantly be in shape and to train and workout consistently. “I think part of the virtue of being an all year athlete is that we keep up with the maintenance that we need to do.” Richard adds, “If I had an off season, I wouldn’t be stretching or icing or doing whatever I need to do to keep me healthy. So because I’m in season all the time, I’m making sure I’m checking up on things like tendonitis or changing my shoes more frequently once they’re worn out.”

Scott has been on the team for his entire college career and he couldn’t be happier to run for Swarthmore. “It’s an exciting time to be a part of our team,” he said. “We are the only sport at Swat who consistently sends someone to their national championship. And I’m very proud to be a part of that tradition.” In addition, the team has undergone some major improvements since Richard first started running on the team. During his freshman year, the Swarthmore cross country team was in 17th place. “But throughout the past couple of years, we’ve really seen the program grow,” he said. “Last year we were in 7th place and we’re going to stay in 7th place or do even better.”

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