I think Division-III athletics is really where it’s at. As a swimmer and student-athlete (they love that title- gotta make sure we don’t forget about the student bit) here at Whitman, I’ve been so lucky to experience the community we’ve built as an athletics program, and I was especially feelin the love this weekend.
The swim team was paired up with the cross country team however long ago, to be buddies and support each other in whatever ways we can- whether that be making good luck cards or cheering at races- you name it. This weekend, Whitman hosted NCAA Division III Cross Country West Regionals, which was kind of a big deal- it’s been a bit since we’ve hosted any big XC events on campus. In support of our buddy team, we rolled on over to the golf course after an early Saturday morning practice, bundled up in our swim parkas and Whitman gear, to go volunteer at the race and cheer on our mates.
It was so fun. I don’t have a ton of experience with cross country. I know running is hard, and I know runners and swimmers have a sort of camaraderie in sharing the fact that no one really understands what it is we do and how hard we work. But I didn’t expect to have so much fun watching friends and fellow athletes race. The energy was incredible, and hard to put a finger on, but there was this air of pride and accomplishment and positivity and just plain fun that was wonderful to be in the middle of. Being out there with my team, cheering, chatting, joking, petting pups, Easton shaking his milk jug full of rocks (all in the name of the cross country team), felt so good and wholesome and just what you want out of college athletics (sko sports!).
Amidst teams from schools all over the west, it made me proud of Whitman athletics and our ability to collaborate and make things happen for each other and support one another across sports. It really is a very special place, and special community within.