By: Nick Nammack
Last week the officers of the UMW boxing club virtually gathered to discuss how the team would be adapting to a socially-distanced semester at UMW. Without the ability to hold practices in person, the officers worried they would not be able to remain active with their members.
The solution came in the form of a short web series covering their conditioning, technique, and drills in order to ensure their members would remain active in the club. Videos would be posted on the boxing club’s portal on Presence, as well as on Youtube for everyone to enjoy. Although the videos are not yet complete, the club has plans to finish the series before October.
Boxing is one of many club sports that has had its structure completely upended. Clubs are unable to hold practices on campus, hindering their ability to remain active with their members. These clubs have had to adapt their means of communication and activity, or risk becoming inactive.
The captain of the UMW men’s ultimate Frisbee team and senior economics major, Beau De Koninck, said that before the quarantine had started, the club typically held three to four practices a week for two hours, where they would practice running drills and scrimmage. They would also typically travel to roughly seven tournaments each year in order to compete with other clubs.
With all tournaments canceled this semester, traditional practices have been replaced with virtual meetings, where team members discuss news and articles about ultimate frisbee. De Koninck has struggled to keep the team motivated during quarantine.
“It is hard to get people to want to play if they can’t actually [participate with other students],” said De Koninck.
The decline in recruitment this semester has not stopped the ultimate team from remaining active in other areas. Over the summer and early into the semester, the men and women’s ultimate teams worked together in order to raise $7,500 for the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, the clubs are working on making sure members and the community are registered to vote. This has allowed the clubs to increase their presence within the community while remaining connected with each other and safe.
Once small gatherings are allowed back on campus, the men’s ultimate Frisbee team is interested in beginning practicing in small groups. Since it is difficult to drill alone, the club anticipates practicing simple concepts in order to support their members’ interests while keeping them and the community safe.
The time off from sports during quarantine has also allowed for the formation of new sports clubs at UMW. Kaitlin Smyth, a junior biology major, took advantage of her free time this summer by starting up a running club for UMW students. The organization is still in the process of being recognized as an official club. Smyth is aware of the difficulty of starting a club in the middle of this pandemic and has expressed her fear that the club would not receive enough interest due to social distancing.
In order to gather more attention around campus, Smyth and her officers began to grow the social media presence of the club in order to connect with interested students who shared their passion for running. Thanks to their Instagram page (@umwrunningclub), the running club has had many students reach out to them with the interest in joining. Going forward, the club intends to observe caution whenever small gatherings are allowed back on campus by running in small groups and observing proper distancing protocols.
Carolyn Rouse, the graduate coordinator of Sport Clubs and Intramurals, stated that recruitment will be the number one concern for sport club officers. Without the ability to compete with other clubs, many clubs will worry about piquing the interest of new students.
However, as students return to campus and begin looking for social outlets, organizations like ultimate Frisbee and the running club could provide spaces to interact with peers with less fear of putting one’s own health at risk. Despite the challenges, the clubs at Mary Washington continue to provide an invaluable sense of community for students seeking a meaningful college experience.