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The Blue & Gray Press | August 18, 2019

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Eagle Nation Stalls to Soar

Eagle Nation Stalls to Soar


Some student bodies are inherently spirited, while others have spirit thrust upon them. The University of Mary Washington now counts itself among the latter. Recent efforts by UMW’s administration to foster school spirit in athletics have been nothing short of comical. The banner that now faces Rt. 1 reads “The rise of eagle nation, UMW Game Day.”

Reading this I couldn’t help but scoff.

There are currently plans to create a “21 and over” tent at sporting events where alcohol would be served, as well as create UMW game day towels. The hope is that a tailgating atmosphere will rise up around basketball games and other sporting events.

We don’t have a football team; we don’t have a huge stadium. We don’t have a mascot people outside the university recognize and we are in no way considered one of the major NCAA players in Virginia. Try to change it all you want, but unless the school enters Division I and starts recruiting for a football team, I suspect things will pretty much stay the same.

It’s like we are back in high school all over again. Virginia Tech, James Madison University and University of Virginia are the popular kids. Everyone likes them and knows about them for their legendary party scene, instantly recognizable school mascots and award winning football programs.

UMW is the quiet intellectual kid, not terribly interested in sports, but has the personality and charm that the other three aren’t known for. Instead of flaunting this, we push aside our uniqueness and try to act like the popular kids, but we will never be like them, so why try? Why can’t we just stop trying to be something we are not and celebrate the unique small community that we are?

Why is it considered a weakness that we don’t emphasize the sports program? I understand that some people select schools based on their athletic prowess. If all those students want from their four-year education is a sports team to root for well into middle age, then go to Virginia Tech or JMU. Students at UMW pick it because it is more than a mascot, a football team, our school colors or any one program.

We are a community that is welcoming and tolerant, being one of the first in Virginia to have gender-neutral housing. We are a campus that is politically active, with our own “Occupy UMW” movement and protesters showing up whenever something controversial is going on. We provide countless unique opportunities for students to give back and put their education to work through programs like Students Helping Honduras, founded by a UMW alumnus.

We are known, by those who are privileged enough to know of us, as an institution that prides itself on fostering a strong sense of outreach and support for each other within the community. Instead of being on ESPN for our championship record, we are written up in places like the Princeton Review and US News and World Report for our rigorous academic program.

While studying abroad in Australia last semester I was ecstatic to catch a clip of UMW  alum Charles Reed talking about the Freedom Rides program. I was more proud to be a UMW student in that moment than I ever would have we just won a sports title.

We are unique and wonderful in our own right, even if our identifiers are not typical of a state university. So please, stop trying to JMU my UMW. I may never attend a sporting event or see my school on ESPN, but my diploma will mean more to me than a sports team; it will mean an education and a community that I will be proud to represent for the rest of my life.


  1. Luca Toni

    Well said Valerie. More tuition dollars should be spent on improving the quality of education than on creating some artificial “spirit” surrounding a DIII sports program.

    Students here are proud of the quality of education they receive, and it seems like President Hurley and the others insist on changing that so we are instead proud of our basketball team. Not quite emblematic of the “best public liberal arts college in the nation.”

  2. Evan Adams

    I rarely feel the need to comment about the happenings here at UMW, but I read this article in the bullet and had to speak my mind.

    I disagree with your stance on the Eagle Nation campaign. I think it is just what UMW needs. OF COURSE Mary Wash will never be a UVA or JMU when it comes to athletics and support. However, your comment of “why try?” is what gets me.

    We SHOULD try to increase support for our athletes and our school. What does it hurt? The amount of money that is being spent on this campaign is nothing compared to the amount of money spent everywhere else. Why try to increase school spirit? Because I am proud of our school, academically and in terms of athletics. I am friends with a ton of athletes here (I am one also), and we do a lot of positive things for the school and have school spirit.

    It seems to me that the people here who are not athletes are the ones who think the school spirit idea is “never going to happen” or “pointless”. Well, I was at the game last saturday, and it was fun! There was a buzz before hand and a good turnout, thanks to Pres. Hurley. I ran into him before the game at HomeTeam and he came up and introduced himself and said that he was excited for the game! (100 bucks says hample woudn’t do that). He is doing great things, and if you don’t want to have a part in it, then don’t write articles just criticizing something that doesn’t affect you at all.

    People who want to have a good time, support our hard working athletes, and increase school spirit, will have a blast at basketball games. Others who don’t care, i.e. you don’t have to come. But I don’t see the need to print negative comments about an initiative that doens’t affect you at all apparently.

    Of course, education first. But understand that we are ALL students of the same university and community. Athletes and non-athletes are in classes together and work together. We can each support our school in our own way! No need to bring down school spirit in an article if you aren’t a fan.

    Thanks and I appreciate you writing something that I feel passionately about for once.


  3. Dana Hall

    I am proud to be an Eagle, a coach of the Women’s Lacrosse program, and an associate professor and member of the University of Mary Washington academic community! Our UMW student athletes do more than just compete in athletics! Last month the athletic department collected and donated over 2,600 pounds of food for the Fredericksburg food bank – the rest of the UMW student body donated less than 500 pounds of food. Our University Varsity teams adopt 25 local families for the holidays and make their holiday special. Yes our student athletes carry full academic schedules, devote 2 or more hours a day to their sport, and continue to be successful in the classroom and on the playing field. Our programs are Division III which means they do not receive any scholarships or financial aide because they are athletes. If you did any research of the history of Mary Washington’s athletic department you would find that we have brought National recognition to the University through conference, regional and national competitions!

    We don’t need to have a football program in order to have school spirit. But the 400+ student athletes at Mary Washington do deserve support just as our theatre department, music department, debate teams, academic research teams, etc. Be proud of Mary Washington and everyone that represents us! You have a choice what you choose to support – no one is forcing you to support anything! But if you are a member of the University of Mary Washington community you should respect everyone that represents the University of Mary Washington in a positive manner.

  4. Anonymous

    Just would like to point out that umw is not academically superior to any of the mentioned schools. While, yes, umw is mentioned in us news etc, so are all of the schools with strong athletic programs–for the most part, at a higher rank

  5. Evan Adams

    Amen, Coach Hall.

  6. Wesley Roberts

    When you say “We are known, by those who are privileged enough to know of us, as an institution that prides itself on fostering a strong sense of outreach and support for each other within the community…” why does that not extend to the community at Mary Washington? “School Spirit” is getting out and supporting our athletes and recognizing the hard work that they put in each and everyday. It is no different than going and seeing a play at UMW or going to the gallery to see some of the amazing art our students make. Additionally, as Coach Hall has pointed out, the athletic department gives back a ton to the community. Laura Gomez created a mentoring program for elementary students at Hugh Mercer, we donate food and gifts to help those in need have a happy holiday, and we participate in raising huge amounts of money for the school. Student-athletes at Mary Washington ARE part of the community. In no way do I think you are not allowed to feel the way you do, but I dont think making it public was the best method to show it because it makes a LOT of people upset, especially those that put in so much blood, sweat, tears, and effort everyday.

  7. Ryan Kleman

    Do you know who I am?

  8. Evan Adams

    Don’t forget- UMW athletes also were up at 7:30 am on Homecoming Saturday in order to line campus walk and support the Special Olympics Race participants. It was a lot of fun and EVERY team was there, and raised a lot of money for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Athletes are a huge part of the community here in Fredericksburg.

  9. anonymous

    Those homeless costumes were legit.


    you miss lady, dont know what your talking about.

  11. Anonymous

    Well put, Coach Hall. I agree that the athletics program greatly benefits the University. The student athletes have a hard life, with all the away games and scheduled practices but they do it in order to represent there school to other institution. They deserve to have the support of the administration and their peers. I also think a football team at UMW would be a waste of resources. However, what’s wrong with increasing the level of school spirit and support? I think this campaign is a fabulous idea to increase awareness of UMW and to further engage the students.

    As for the Lacrosse team, Coach Hall does not have the ability to constantly monitor the actions of her lacrosse team on and off the field. They are young women who have the ability to make their own decisions. The lacrosse program is extremely successful and I think that positively reflects back on Coach Hall’s coaching as well as all her lacrosse girls. Coach Hall doesn’t need to “seek praise” she earns it through her successful programs.


    A former player of Coach Hall

  12. Dear ms. Lapointe

    Also, Occupy UMW is a joke

  13. yourmom

    They have grades comparable or better than yours, have a commitment that takes up a large part of their time, AND STILL have time to do all of these things. Have some fun, its college.

  14. Jenny Atmar

    Hello there “Anonymous”,
    You must be a pretty brave person to speak such slander while hiding behind a computer screen. I’m not sure what personal offense my team may have caused you but there is no reason for your low blows to my team. The UMW Women’s lacrosse team is one of the best lacrosse programs in DIII and not to mention one of the best athletic teams at UMW.You don’t have to like us but we have done nothing to cause you to lose our respect. We go to the same school as you, receive the same degree, while balancing a heavy athletics schedule. Your line of argument is a complete red herring. This article isn’t about the social lives of athletes or rumours that people like to spread, its about the pride in our athletic program. If what you have learned in your college experience is the ability to tear others down through a variety of literary tactics while sitting behind a computer, then I hope you can find happiness in that. If you want to insult the newly found pride in UMW Athletics then go right ahead, but do NOT insult my team. I’d disagree with the author of the original paper because all graduates leave here with a diploma. I am very fortunate to be one of the few to leave here being part of UMW sports team, which to me is one of the greatest gifts I could ask for

  15. Nikkoahk Chitty

    This is not the first time writers in the Bullet have spat in that faces of our athletes. For an organization that says we are an accepting community, you sure are hypocrites. You only accept the programs you want to, and THAT is not true acceptance.
    Evan Adams, I don’t know you, but I am indebted to you for being the first to take a stand against this.
    For those of you who attacked Coach Hall, how dare you. She is the faculty leader of the SAAC program here at UMW, which is one of our biggest community outreach programs. If you disagree with something her athletes did, then have the guts to tell them in person and don’t hide behind your paper, and DON’T attack the woman who is trying to lead them in one of the positive parts of their lives. (I say one, because these girls have many good qualities.)
    As Evan stated earlier, while the rest of UMW was either sleeping in or sleeping off the activities of the night before on the morning of homecoming, our entire athletic program was lining campus walk and cheering on the Special Olympics. Now there’s an event that would have been worth writing about, but you were probably in bed at 7:30am.
    Finally, as to our athletes not excelling, you are sorely mistaken. We may not have perfect records, but we do come out victorious from competitions. Also, we continually lead the CACs for highest percentage of students on athletic honor role (which requires a 3.0 or higher). So if you are proud of a program, such as Occupy UMW, than just say so without attacking another program. Can the program stand on it’s own, or is it such that you have to tear down others to make it look better?
    GO EAGLES!!!

  16. Nikkoahk Chitty

    This is not the first time writers in the Bullet have spat in that faces of our athletes. For an organization that says we are an accepting community, you sure are hypocrites. You only accept the programs you want to, and THAT is not true acceptance.
    Evan Adams, I don’t know you, but I am indebted to you for being the first to take a stand against this.
    For those of you who attacked Coach Hall, how dare you. She is the faculty leader of the SAAC program here at UMW, which is one of our biggest community outreach programs. If you disagree with something her athletes did, then have the guts to tell them in person and don’t hide behind your paper, and DON’T attack the woman who is trying to lead them in one of the positive parts of their lives. (I say one, because these girls have many good qualities.)
    As Evan stated earlier, while the rest of UMW was either sleeping in or sleeping off the activities of the night before on the morning of homecoming, our entire athletic program was lining campus walk and cheering on the Special Olympics. Now there’s an event that would have been worth writing about, but you were probably in bed at 7:30am.
    Finally, as to our athletes not excelling, you are sorely mistaken. We may not have perfect records, but we do come out victorious from competitions. Also, we continually lead the CACs for highest percentage of students on athletic honor role (which requires a 3.0 or higher). So if you are proud of a program, such as Occupy UMW, than just say so without attacking another program. Can the program stand on it’s own, or is it such that you have to tear down others to make it look better?

  17. Wesley Roberts

    This isn’t a place to try and publicly call people out and is completely not about the topic at hand. Coach Hall isn’t seeking praise for her team, she merely was stating who she is for those of you who don’t know. Coach Hall is one of the most devoted to the Athletic department as a whole. Why should we respect someone who chooses to remain anonymous and slander their fellow students and peers in a public medium? It shouldn’t matter to you what some individuals choose to do with their time off and choose to put on their facebooks.

  18. Johnny Hopkins

    More tuition dollars to improve the food, Seaco and the Nest are terrible.

  19. Kathleen

    “We are a community that is welcoming and tolerant…”
    –Pretty strong statement to make in such a blatantly intolerant article

    “We are known, by those who are privileged enough to know of us, as an institution that prides itself on fostering a strong sense of outreach and support for each other within the community…”
    –Again… this kind of statement pretty much makes it impossible for me to take anything you say seriously. You’ve managed to state, in the same sentence (smh), that we are a tolerant, caring, and service oriented community all the while saying that the only people who know that are “priveleged.” Not a good way to get your point across, Valerie.

    I see nothing wrong with amping up school spirit. And guess what? No one’s forcing you to go to that under 21 tent or even attend a sporting event. They’re pretty easy to avoid actually. UMW does have people interested in athletics, and if you can’t tolerate that than fulfill your dreams about your ideal college experience else where.

    I’m going to take a guess and say that you’re a sophomore, you’ve finished your first year of school so you think you’re entitled to rant about what should and should not be a part of the UMW experience. But, you haven’t quite realized what really makes UMW… UMW. But you will learn… if you can handle it. If you’re a senior or junior… than you’ve spoken way to late, my dear. A for effort.

    Carry on.

  20. 2010 alum

    I agree with your comments about some, if not many, in the UMW student body, only paying lip service to accpetance and tolerance, but cannot extend their lofty idealism across political lines or different lifestyle choices. This is a societal problem and neither the Bullet nor UMW is to blame for the inability or unwillingness to practice acceptance in its fullest, it is merely symptomatic of a societal ill.

    The UMW athlete is well deserving of praise. You sacrifice hours at practice and training, not because someone is paying you, but because you love your sport and you love representing this school. I commend you for your hard work and dedication–it is so much easier to attend a rally for an hour or two, or go to a club meeting that meets once a week indoors (not knocking on those clubs that meet indoors, but calling attention to the fact that athletes are spending just as much, almost assuredly more, time and certainly physical effort in the way they have chosen to represent this school).

    Although I did not participate in the UMW athletic program myself, I fully recognize that there is a sense of camaraderie that team sports naturally inculcates in its participants, an admirable work ethic, and a goal-oriented mindset that will serve alumni of the UMW athletic program in ways that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Non-athletes will be hard pressed to find that kind of focused training on their own. Not saying that non-athletes don’t have pride in what UMW’s image, or have sloppy work habits, or are unable to set and meet goals, but team sports are an effective way to teach all those things to a student in one program. There’s a reason why the federal service academies require every single cadet to participate in either an intercollegiate or intramural sport–it’s to develop a well-rounded individual, one that is of sound body as well as mind. UMW would do well to provide some sort of incentive for all able bodied students to participate in a sport of some kind. And yes, ultimate frisbee does count, no matter what its detractors might say, as a sport.

  21. Brenna Hill and Maggie Nunn

    As a member of the field hockey team Brenna Hill and a member of the women’s lacrosse team Maggie Nunn responding to this article and comments left, the article seems as though there is a large disconnect between the athletes and non athletes in some eyes. Coach Hall constantly reminds her players that we are students first and athletes second. This being said, we are the same student, take the same classes and put in the same amount of effort as a non athlete. While playing a DIII sport was a choice that we personally made, we all recognize that we will not be professional athletes in our future careers and academics are first and foremost most important. The student athletes here are not seeking to be on ESPN highlights. We are individuals who choose to play for camaraderie, sportsmanship and for pure love of the game. The alums that have come back to visit Coach Hall and speak to the team will obviously discuss their memorable games but more than that, these alums speak of the relationships with teammates and life experiences they gained by being a student athlete at UMW. Anyone who makes the choice to come to UMW knows that they are not going to JMU, UVA or Tech but that does not mean that there shouldn’t be school spirit. School spirit is something that is fostered far and wide and is not meant just for athletics. The problem among school spirit at UMW is the people who say they will never attend a sporting event and view the school as athletes and non athletes. By dividing the school into such decisive categories, a boundary has been created which is unhealthy and at this point in a college student’s life shouldn’t exist. UMW will only be a high school like atmosphere if it is created that way. Brenna and I both do not see it this way and embrace any and all relationships with athletes at UMW or the student we are sitting next to in class. The article speaks of how you felt so school spirited when you heard alum Charles Reed speak about the Freedom Rides. We share the same sentiments as you. As members of the UMW community, we also want to be proud alums and aspire to be the alums that future UMW students will look up to and have the same sentiments that you felt about Charles Reed. UMW will never have a JMU, UVA or Tech atmosphere but that shouldn’t deter UMW from wanting their own sense of school spirit in athletic and non athletic arenas.

  22. Laura Gomez

    I have found the Bullet article to be entirely unproductive and untrue.
    I would also like to reiterate Jenny’s comments. The women’s lacrosse team gives ample amounts of their time, energy and resources to the greater Fredericksburg community. The “anonymous” slanderer of the Women’s Lacrosse team not only makes inappropriately false accusations, but fails to recognize all that this team (and others) bring to the school and the Fredericksburg Community.
    Division III athletes are not given scholarship money. Most of us participate purely for the love of our sports. Not only do UMW Student Athletes balance a rigorous athletic schedule, we particpate in several Community Outreach Programs, maintain a high level of academic achievement, and are active and engaged members of the UMW student body. Please do not disrespect the athletic department as a whole, or the individuals within our entity, especially if you do not possess the knowledge to give accurate criticism.

  23. Rachel

    As an athlete, I graduate with the same degree you do sooooo…oh and i have a conference championship associated with my name and currently on a team that’s ranked in the top 25 in the country. FYI the top 64 teams get in the NCAA tournament. This makes us a “NCAA player” as you put it. You should look up the facts before you write the article and you should probably look into what athletes do for the community too. The renewed school spirit is not to change the community but rather to enhance one. Come to a sporting event and other events on campus. Support your school and see if you still have the same opinion.

  24. Sarah Chamberlain


    On behalf of the student-athletes at UMW, I would like to respectfully respond to your article. I can’t think of any other portion of the student body that does more for the school and the community than our athletes. So far, we have done several fundraisers to help those in need. We participated in the canned food drive before Thanksgiving and gave food to those who couldn’t afford to have a great holiday. On homecoming, we woke up at 7 o’clock in the morning and cheered on those people who were running in the Special Olympics Race. For the upcoming holiday season, each team adopted a family to sponsor and buy presents for. We give so much to the community that hosts our great university, and that, in itself, should be a reason to support us and cheer us on in our competitions.

    More than what we do for the community, many of us athletes do more than just workout and play games. Many of us contribute to arts programs here at UMW. My friend and teammate is the director of BellAcappella and finds a way to dedicate time and effort in school, softball, and the arts. For that matter, it doesn’t even have to be arts. So many of us are involved in other clubs here. My friend on the crew team finds time to participate in Young Democrats and lead them in many of their political endeavors. We are more than just jocks and meatheads. We challenge ourselves academically, artistically, and politically as well. This too is worthy of a few fans cheering for us at our games.

    When I was in high school and trying to pick a college to play at, my Dad gave me a very moving article to read. It was about how DIII schools are worthy or more recognition than D1 schools because we play out of passion. We don’t get paid to do the things we do. We dedicate our leisure time to our team not because we’re getting financial aid, but because it’s what we love. On the field, on the track and on the court we give it everything we have because of our desire win and our commitment to making our school proud of what we have accomplished. This is worthy of recognition from our peers.

    At the end of the day, there is nothing wrong with trying to rally up a little school spirit. For as hard as we work as a community to better ourselves and to make our peers proud, there is no reason to discourage people from cheering us on. I understand that you see our school as being more than just about sports and I think we all agree. We are more than just a bunch of athletes. We are young intellectuals who participate in communal activities. We can take pride in our academics, athletics and clubs at the same time. Why not take pride in being a well-rounded community of young adults?

  25. Mac

    This is exactly what the person who wrote this intended…

  26. Ryan Kleman

    Seems like Valerie LaPointe doesn’t have a very good “point”

  27. Anonymous

    My biggest question is why are people reading the bullet? This article is makes me feel like I just got called short by a midget…

  28. anonymous

    This is one of the most unprofessional/poorly written articles I’ve ever read. The Bullet should be ashamed to include this in their newspaper.

  29. Anonymous

    Might I add, that the eminent promiscuity, blatant unfriendliness, and overall dishonorable attitude of some girls on the Women’s Lacrosse team is not representative of the majority of the Athletic Programs at UMW.

  30. Ryan Wettlaufer

    Boy’s club lax team is where it at. Say hi to your boiii wett money, i make all dem girlz wett

  31. ya boii

    First off, I agree with Wesley on everything he says. 2nd shouldn’t tall ugly Bitched live sports?

  32. Danielle Guigli

    My name is Danielle Guigli, I am a senior at Mary Washington and although I understand points made in this article I do not agree with them. I have played for the UMW lacrosse program and I have also patricipated in PAC, the Performing Arts Club. Growing up in a small town outside of Boston, our community as a whole was very supporting and accepting of whatever interest the students of the town may of had. I chose a DIII school because it gave me the ability to pursue a higher education, participate in a sport that I have loved for 13+ years, and join a club that allowed me to continue my undying passion for dance. Attending Mary Washington was a choice, and a choice we all made and for our own reasons we all fell in love with the campus, the area, or the school itself. Whether the community decides to support ANY of the many talented student that occupy this campus is their own. Yet it is our responsibility to hold ourselves at the highest level and give each other the utmost respect. We have all made mistakes and it is the way we dig our selves out of the trenches that defines who we are. I am appalled to see such lack of respect and complete disregard this community is showing each other. Each and every student works hard to stay here and we all give back a little in anyway we can, whether it be fundraising, donating, or community service. There is no need for this animosity and hatred towards each other, so let us all agree to disagree.

    Sincerely, an EAGLE

  33. Evan Adams

    Stop posting pointless comments. We want administrators to read this, and if you ARE a UMW athlete posting the crap comments, you are making yourself (and our stance on the issue) look bad.

  34. Anne Elder

    Hi everyone,
    Just reminding you of our comment policy: We reserve the right to delete or edit any comments that contain offensive language, personal attacks or irrelevant ramblings. Please, express your opinions. But keep it classy.

    If you don’t see your comment anymore, it was probably removed for these reasons. Also, if you were pretending to be someone you’re not (i.e., Jerry Sandusky or Bob Saget), we’ve removed those comments as well. Please feel free to re-post tactfully with your real identity.

    Comment on! If you have further questions, please email Also, feel free to send us a letter to the editor.

  35. Tola Adebanjo

    I will applaud the writer’s efforts here because clearly she did what all “good” media does, provokes thought, talk and more opinionated banter. I read this article, read the comments (some of which I wish I could unread) and then re-read the article again. All I can say is that the author of this article wrote a viewpoint and that is exactly what we got, 1 viewpoint out of the 4,354 undergraduate and 849 graduate students here at Mary Washington. This viewpoint is the opinion that a single individual has about the efforts of a larger percentage of students who participate in athletics year round, attend the same classes, and participate in some of the same organizations as students who make the decision to pursue other interests and/or solely academics. I have no problem with the author expressing her opinion because from the 30+ comments that came prior to this one it is evident that we all have them, but my problem is with the conclusion. I quote,“.. please, stop trying to JMU my UMW. I may never attend a sporting event or see my school on ESPN, but my diploma will mean more to me than a sports team; it will mean an education and a community that I will be proud to represent for the rest of my life.” end quote. Yes, there are many students that will graduate without giving a flying funyon about how many conference championships were won or NCAA tournament appearances were made by their athletic programs, but when it comes down to it; I think everyone who in some shape or form has been involved with an athletic program at the university would say that their experience resulted in not only a diploma, but a family that made getting that piece of paper even more worth it. In addition, a community they can personally say year after year they made an impact on and also a mentality of team above self (or to make it more relatable: goals of the student body above individual opinion.) As a senior athlete who is a 17.5 hr drive away from home, the diploma is obviously what we are all here to attain and that is hard enough at times on its own. So I applaud the efforts of the university and the President to try and make the experience more enjoyable and memorable past the bluebooks, exams, and finals. Additionally, I am more than grateful for the amazing network of people in the athletic program that I can call family without my real family close by to support me. I guess what I am saying is that; while what UVA, JMU and all the “popular” schools are doing is of no consequence to me because its been 4 years and I still attend Mary Washington, wanting to have school spirit does not make us “wannabes”, it makes us a University that wants to share the pride we have in what the student body and university are doing whether it be athletically, academically, politically or socially. An article like this just leaves me wondering how we expect to represent UMW after graduation if we can’t even collectively get people to WANT to do it while we are still here. #notaboveit #eaglenation

    On another note…I don’t know the writer of this article personally but you know I would say she was a lot bigger of a person for sharing her opinion and putting her name on it. People who are writing obscenely unnecessary things and slandering her name online in these comments. PLEASE grow up. you are in college and probably athletes I am sure. Do yourselves a favor and don’t disgrace the entire athletics program by being that immature on a public site. It’s bold as hell and pretty embarrassing and not to mention obviously embarrassing for you too if you can’t sign your name. Think about it.

  36. Evan Adams

    dani, well said. Everybody is getting ridiculous.


  37. Jonathan S. Blaine

    This article is ludicrous.

    Is it so wrong to go to a school and want a little more school spirit? I’m curious as to what it takes away from the student body who could care less about sports…So the school is sponsoring a movement encouraging people to go to a basketball game…oh you don’t want to go? Then DON’T! This has nothing to do with academics or our academic standing compared to the rest of VA schools (which is pretty damn good if you look at the stats)

    Let me give you a case study first: My best friend from high school went to a little D-III school in Cambridge Massachusetts. The enrollment is around 4500 undergrad. The school spirit there is UNBELIEVABLY more prevalent than that of UMW’s I assure you. Everyone loves their school and their sports teams. Wanna know what school that is? The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, if you will. Do you think they get concerned about school spirit affecting their reputation as “intellectuals?”

    Trust me, as a former UMW basketball player I assure you that your tuition dollars are NOT going to our team in the capacity you may think. We have to sell raffle tickets. We have to sell advertising space in our programs. We have to buy our own shoes. D-1 athletes do exactly NONE of these things. And by the way, using D-1 football as a gauge is asinine. Even at the D-III level, college football is a multi-miliion dollar operation and is usually reserved for private schools with high tuition rates and an even higher endowment. We are too small and charge too little for football. We probably will never have a football team. And that’s “okay.” If you want football, choose some other school.

    That new beautiful gym does more for the average student than you think. Sure, it will help recruiting for basketball and volleyball, but have you considered its draw for performers? Some musical artists and comedians wouldn’t come to our school before because the venues were too small…NOT A PROBLEM NOW! I’m sure you won’t complain when a big act rolls thru Fredericksburg. Keynote speakers, renowned professors and thinkers are the exact same. The school will get better concerts and guest speakers because of the gym. Period.

    And the concern over the school losing focus of its mission to be the best liberal arts school in the country completely misses the point. Think about it: If a talented high school senior wants to go to UMW and doesn’t care about sports, they won’t be turned off by this movement because they already don’t care about athletics. The school loses nothing and the high school senior matriculates to UMW. HOWEVER, a talented high school senior that DOES care about school spirit and athletics and is considering UMW may absolutely be affected by a lack of school spirit. If all other things are held equal that person may pass on the school because no one cares about sports, and the school loses something on that. Think about it, if an increase in school spirit gets even 1% more graduating high schoolers to come to UMW, the school gets all the more competitive. The people concerned about the academics win. The athletes win. The school wins.

    Lastly, I think it’s wholly ignorant to leave out the fact that the UMW athletics means a LOT to the players, coaches, and fans involved. I can honestly say my life and academic experience was enriched by participating in UMW athletics and I would venture to say there are literally THOUSANDS of other current and former Eagles that would agree with me.

    How do you think a “scoff” at a movement to increase awareness and enthusiasm regarding the English department would be received? PROBABLY NOT TOO WELL. That’s precisely what this article is doing to the athletics program.

    The bottom line is this: School spirit doesn’t affect you unless you let it. No one is putting a gun to your head to love your school or its athletics (however you did choose to go to UMW so this article is all the more vexing to me but I digress). If you don’t like school spirit, ignore it.

  38. anon

    Actually, they are quite delicious.

  39. Sarah Payne, 2010

    I’m disappointed that the author of this article fails to see the valuable effects of the administration’s efforts to foster school spirit. The administration’s actions, which you may or may not personally agree with, only help to get students involved in the community. Athletics is a big community part of Mary Washington. I was not on a sports team or an athlete while at Mary Washington, but I enjoyed going to the games. I think it’s great that the school is encouraging students to come out and support their teams.

    Lastly, a stronger school spirit will help to bond students together and to the school. As an alumni I still feel a strong connection to Mary Washington, but I realize that some former students do not. I feel that the administration’s efforts will help students feel connected to UMW during their time in there and after they graduate. Keeping a connection between Mary Washington and Alumni is important since Alumni are an important source of support for the University.

  40. Brian M.

    How did you let this article get posted in a paper with the a University of Mary Washington name in it? This is a disgrace against an institute of higher learning.

  41. gw

    How much money do large sports teams bring to colleges? Schools with large sports teams bring more attention to the college and in the end have a larger amount of applications. With more applications the university has the ability to be more choosey and have an incoming class with a higher gpa… Therefore a “smarter” student base and in the end more educational recognition.

  42. tstew


  43. Joe D

    This article says absolutely nothing about student athletes…..meaning that 90% of the comments on this article are arguing about something that has nothing to do with the article at all. This was about the administrations efforts to create a sports culture….thought you knew

  44. Anonymous

    You do realize that athletes would be involved in a sports culture so in reality it has everything to do with us… Didn’t expect you to know…

  45. Eric Rehbein

    I completely agree with John and I would like to add to his great response. This article is so ridiculous, I don’t know where to begin.
    The reason the new gym was built was to have a large indoor facility for games, concerts, key-note speakers, and other events (such as graduation if it were raining), which was something UMW was lacking. It was not just built for athletics, and believe me, the athletic department does not get nearly as much money as you would think. I am a former UMW baseball player and we had to have fundraisers, sell raffle tickets, and pay for all of our own equipment in addition to having a full course load and practices or games 6 days a week. We do this because we love our sport and our teammates. This article is atrocious and very offensive to the athletes representing the same school you attend! You have a choice whether or not you want to go to these games. Before you bash a well-intended effort by the administration to raise school spirit, get a UMW athlete’s perspective. There’s plenty of people that have commented here that agree with me.
    I’ll end with a quote that another UMW athlete alum sent to our team when I was a freshman:
    “It’s not about getting a scholarship, getting drafted, or making SportsCenter. It’s a deep need in us that comes from the heart. We need to practice, to play, to lift, to hustle, to sweat. We do it all for our teammates and for the student in our calculus class that we don’t even know.
    We don’t practice with a future major league first baseman; we practice with a future sports agent. We don’t lift weights with a future Olympic wrestler; we lift with a future doctor. We don’t run with a future Wimbledon champion; we run with a future CEO. It’s a bigger part of us than our friends and family can understand. Sometimes we play for 2,000 fans; sometimes 25. But we still play hard. You cheer for us because you know us. You know more than just our names. Like all of you, we are students first. We don’t sign autographs. But we do sign graduate school applications, MCAT exams, and student body petitions. When we miss a kick or strike out, we don’t let down an entire state. We only let down our teammates, coaches, and fans.
    But the hurt is still the same. We train hard, lift, throw, run, kick, tackle, shoot, dribble, and lift some more, and in the morning we go to class. And in that class we are nothing more than students. It’s about pride in ourselves, in our school. It’s about our love and passion for the game. And when it’s over, when we walk off that court or field for the last time, our hearts crumble. Those tears are real. But deep down inside, we are very proud of ourselves. We will forever be what few can claim…college athletes.”

  46. Leah Lantzy

    As a former UMW athlete and a current instructor of college classes, this article really ticks me off. In the big picture, I believe that our country in general is overly enthusiastic about sports and I detest the business-oriented mindset of many large universities that sell sports teams, tail-gaiting, mascots and logos to increase enrollment. However, if you never attend sports events, how can you ever appreciate the dedication, mental toughness and grit that it takes to perform at the college level? Perhaps it would be more worth the author’s while to write an article on something she does know about and stop raining on the parade of the student body and the alumni.

  47. anonymous

    It does not directly address student athletes, but don’t you think it’s a bit of a slap in the face to say that the school has no spirit, when on a daily basis, on game day we feel the love from our friends, our student body?

    I’ll tell you what, as a student athlete myself . this school not only doesn’t rank up to those schools in athletics, but are not as good academically.

    Valerie, you raise the point that “why try?” The real question you need to be asking yourself is ‘why not try?’ It’s free publicity for the school, and people like me and my friends who have played sports here didn’t choose this place solely for sports, we understand that. Actually, Valerie, I will go as far in saying that probably at least 1/2 of the athletes here participate in something other than sports too. I think the athletes are the ones with the most school spirit, we are the ones who are willing to participate in sport and club voluntarily. If your argument is to stop caring about athletics because there is a lack of school spirit, well why don’t you just remove the clubs and interest groups and anything on campus to do? No one shows up to the underground events really, no one shows up to the comedians, we have had mediocre turnouts at best for most shows we have. Look, all I’m saying, no one at UMW is trying to be like tech, uva, jmu or vcu or any D1 virginia school for that matter. Hurley is just trying to produce some more buzz about things that are important to some people, like going out and enjoying sports, because believe it or not valerie, some people just like to go watch sports live.

    do you see why people are getting upset, Joe D? when she writes lines like ‘but my diploma will mean more to me than a sports team’ that seems a bit arrogant don’t you think? We’re getting degrees. I have a 3.2 while playing a sport, holding a job, just got an internship for the summer and participate in several clubs. I support other clubs, other teams, other programs on campus and don’t turn the other cheek like valerie is doing in this article. and lets be real…no one chose this school for our athletic prowess there were other factors. We have a STRONG d3 athletic program and if you weren’t so ignorant, you’d realize how great sports are for a school, from a non athletic point of view.

    Frankly, this article sucks. I don’t care whether she ‘attacked’ athletes or not, the article has absolutely ZERO foundation. this does not address anything that administration is doing for our athletics either, really… If you did your research, valerie, youd realize most d1 schools lose loads money on football, not all schools have huge crowds or lots of school spirit. we are unique because as a dIII liberal arts school, you have the opportunity to get a great education and enjoy great sporting events that are fun and spirited, that is if you can get off your high horse and just let loose. also take this into account, every d1 athlete who are from all over the country, every d1 schools gives priority scheduling for their athletes, they give them tutors, but here at umw we always get the short end of the stick. we are the most underfunded, underappreciated group of students on campus even though we are the most active… valerie, i truly hope for you sake that this was a satirical article because even if it doesn’t mean anything to you, it means something to me, and it means something to us that we are finally getting some support from the administration.

  48. anonymous

    Actually the article is well written and satisfies the objective of an opinion piece. Clearly the athletes vigorously commenting on the article spent a little too much time in their business administration classes, and didn’t learn how to read or comprehend written material. The author is not insulting athletes. She seemingly doesn’t care about umw athletics, and quite frankly, neither does much of the school–obviously, as the administration is shoving this down the students’ throats.

  49. anonymous

    Furthermore, the very concept of the school approving material before it is published is nothing short of censorship and is antithetical to freedom of the press.


    Are you stating that athletes are all business majors? I am fairly certain that a large number of athletes are biology majors, aspiring to enter the medical world in some way, shape, or form. Athletes in all majors have some of the top GPA’s, working hard every day to balance not only their extracurricular activities like sports and clubs, but to maintain a high GPA. Furthermore, stating that we “didn’t learn how to read or comprehend written material” is ignorant, especially since the article is commending UMW on their academic standing, so obviously everyone that goes here did well in high school and is still academically succeeding. Also, No one is shoving anything down anyone’s throat. The administration is merely creating the opportunity for the school, as a whole, to become more supportive of something many people feel passionate about.

  51. Cassandra

    The last section of your comment is ridiculously patronizing.

  52. Who’s spitting in the faces of the athletes? It’s just stating that school spirit is not something that students want forced upon them.

  53. Joe Schmo

    Nothing is being forced upon them. If they dont want to do it they dont have to.

  54. Archibald Cunningham


  55. Mike Hawk

    Valerie is obviously a NARP

  56. Brunch (which is a lot of student’s first meal of the day) was removed because all of the staff were working at the tailgating event.

  57. Bridget

    Yikes, isn’t Valerie just saying let it happen naturally? School spirit does not need to be forced?

  58. Ryan

    I feel like I should point out that all the comments I’ve seen that attack this article are by athletes… Think about that for a moment.

    Also, having school spirit and caring about school sports don’t have to be the same thing. I, for one, love UMW but I don’t care one bit about our sports. No ones likes when Seaco is closed for Brunch so we can have cold corn dogs and potato salad outside Jepson. Nor do they like our campus being littered with flyers. People are free to care about sports, but the whole student population shouldn’t be peer pressured into liking them too.

  59. Nick DeSarno

    I don’t think the author mentioned anything about the hard work the student athletes do or the service hours the team participates in. The article was plainly stating that we are a DIII school and that we shouldn’t tie school spirit just to athletics. No one isn’t saying that you shouldn’t attend an athletic function or participate in a sport, but when President Hurley forces the upcoming freshman to learn the eagle swoop at orientation, something is clearly wrong about the approach. The sports teams should be in charge of increasing school spirit and I am sure they are actively doing so. But the administration has clearly been focusing on that while many other things slip by the waist side. Teachers have not received a raise in 4 years, but we have money for eagles to be plastered on college avenue. What was the purpose of that? The administration should have priorities and it shouldn’t be creating a false sense of school spirit. School spirit doesn’t come from a t-shirt cannon.

  60. Q-Easy

    Why can’t a school maintain one identity while working towards another? It is wrong to think that this athletic movement serves as a distraction to UMW’s “personality” and identity. Our athletic program is an integrated part of UMW’s identity (community and service oriented, etc…).
    This “one-or-the-other” perspective makes no sense to me. The historical freedom rides program is not going anywhere, the power of our historical preservation program isn’t either. Just two examples I can think of of the top of my head that represent a unique aspect of our Universities culture. You should not feel threatened about losing this “uniqueness”.

    It is difficult to support basketball games when you can’t even find a place to sit in the gym. The gym investments and athletic support from administration are merely giving students the opportunity to support athletics, an opportunity that we have barely had in the past for a variety of reasons (outdated facilities, no athletic promotion etc…). Student support for athletics boosts our athletics department, which excites our athletic image, which ADDS market appeal to our university from prospective students (without depicting ourselves as some stupid sports school…because that will never be possible), which allows UMW to grow and diversify (always a UMW goal), which gives YOUR degree more power as an investment in your future. This is a brand building process that can only better you.

    I understand your point that UMW has plenty of value to it that is not sports related but maybe you should go read a book or two before you post stuff like this. You have failed to understand the context of this entire situation.

  61. Evan Adams

    very well put q-easy. why not have both? GO EAGLES

  62. LAX LORD


  63. Kathleen

    you’re right

  64. Arnold

    I didn’t read this entire comment, but I do like the author’s idea of increasing awareness of the English department. We should all brainstorm to try and figure out ways to bring awareness to the English department and all the hard work they do.

  65. Reality Man

    Coach Hall:

    The University has spent tens of millions, yes millions of scarce $$ creating a D1 athletic complex for what is a liberal arts D3 school. please excuse us if we are not impressed by the actions of the atheletes in the “community”. UMW has very high student fees and these sports team members should be held to a a huge level of community service. It is hard to get behind sub-standard athletics (yes I said it) when their abilities are matched by a lot of club sport and recreational students. Why on god’s green earth do we need a multi-million dollar field hockey facility, tennis center, and basketball arena when they are probably utilized by less than 100 students on any given day? What did these three facilities cost, $50 million, give or take a few quarters? I tried to shoot baskets in the new gym – guess what, i was told by a coach that it was for “varsity” students only… Now there is an attempt to justify these monuments to ego by planning the “Rise of Eagle Nation”? I have news for the atheletic department – the average UMW student volunteers because they feel that it is a good thing to do – not because a coach told them to…

    I find it horrifying that we feel the need for flat screen TV’s, press boxes, advertising campaigns, when academic positions have been cut and cost of living raises stolen from well-deserved faculty.

    Please put yourself in our place – I am paying for my own education and I could care less about Betty the lacrosse player from Fairfax or Johnny Jump Shot from Chantilly – they won’t help me get where I need to go and I would have been just as happy supporting them on what looked like a perfectly great field hockey complex and a more than adequate Goolrick Gym.

    I hope there are better controls in place in the future to practice moderation and not ego-driven construction.

  66. Hear hear!