Men’s Basketball Wants to Be Your Friend

  Men’s Basketball is gearing up for a new season, but their biggest challenge lies in rehabilitating their campus reputation. (Credit: GoGryphons.com)

Men’s Basketball is gearing up for a new season, but their biggest challenge lies in rehabilitating their campus reputation. (Credit: GoGryphons.com)

As the cold of winter sets in and the Hill House heaters start clamoring, students are reminded we are that much closer to the semester’s end. However, for the fifteen members of the SLC Men’s Basketball Team, winter doesn’t signal an end, but a new beginning: time to lace up their sneakers and pivot their focus to what they hope will be to be their most successful season yet.

Once these players step off the court, however, it’s a much different story. A clear social divide between athletes and non-athletes persists on campus, resulting in what many athletes claim to be lopsided perceptions and subsequent unfair treatment.

Administration has tried to remedy this disparity with little success. In a move many dismissively call “the rebrand,” SLC has largely tried to embrace its athletics department. However, a majority of students still hold negative impressions of athletics, and the chasm between students and student-athletes persists.

These negative perceptions about athletes, and the basketball team in particular, are not baseless. There have been two reported cases of sexual assault against Men’s Basketball players in the last four years. Many women—primarily juniors and seniors—have less-than-flattering stories to tell about encounters they’ve had with members of the team over their years on campus. These actions, and their lingering ramifications, are something the team claims they are actively working to change.

Austin Jones, ‘19,is ready to start his fourth year on the SLC basketball team. A 6’2 guard, he’s a regular starter for the team and holds the school record for assists, with 213. However, Jones’ work off the court stems from his desire to mend the athletics department with the greater student body.

“We’re trying our best to show the Sarah Lawrence students here that we care about this school just as much as them,” says Jones. “We want the school to become more accepting; that’s what we all want. We just want to be accepted, we don’t want to feel like we’re the outsiders.”

This “outsider status” Jones describes can be interpreted both ways. Is it, as Jones describes, a blatant ostracization of athletes on campus? Or do athletes themselves form their own cliques, shutting themselves off from non-athletic culture at SLC? If we assume the latter is true, are these cliques a form of self-preservation, or a tactic of protection from an athletics-averse campus?

***

It’s no secret that Sarah Lawrence isn’t necessarily a sports school. The combination of size—the undergraduate population couldn’t fill two sections of Syracuse’s 49,000-capacity football stadium—and historic lack of athletic success delegate SLC as a run-of-the-mill D-III school, where student-athletes are just that: students first, athletes second. However, in its valuing of the arts, individualism, and strong sense of counterculture, SLC students do not embrace the athletics department. In turn, the basketball team has created its own subculture—unable to always find room for themselves at SLC, they make their own space.

“We always do everything together, we spend probably 90% of our time together,” says Jones. “Nine out of ten times, if you see a basketball player, there are two or three of them together.”

His third year on the team, center/forward BJ Sanders, ‘20, describes the team in a similar vein.

“There’s a really strong sense of brotherhood,” says Sanders.

The term “brotherhood” came up frequently in my interviews with both Sanders and Jones; it’s a core principle of the team’s culture. However, this sense of community is sometimes perceived as something entirely different—fraternity.

“We’re the closest thing to a fratty, hypermasculine vision [at Sarah Lawrence],” explains Sanders.

The depiction of masculinity Sanders describes separates the team—and many other members of the athletics department—from what would be considered cliques in any other division of SLC students. Paired with other signifiers of fraternity-esque culture, such as the Slonim Woods house the team occupied for many years, the comparison doesn’t feel too far off. While Sanders and Jones both reject the frat label, they also can see how outsiders looking in can draw those comparisons.

“I can totally see how people see [the team] to be a frat mentality,” says Jones. “We go out on the weekends, we’re always together [...] but we would love to expand. Sometimes we don’t want hang out with each other, we want to branch out, but the perception of us is that we’re frats and we have that kind of stigma.”

Allegations of sexual assault, reputations of masculine—and borderline aggressive—behavior, and self-induced isolation have all become pillars of the basketball team’s reputation on greater campus. However, Jones, Sanders, and the team’s leadership are actively working to dismantle these judgements.

“Arrogant, disrespectful [...] It’s everyone else’s perception of us,” says Sanders. “We’re not a frat. We don’t brand each other, we don't have crazy initiations, that’s not the culture as a whole. The attitudes on the team have changed, the coach has brought in more well-rounded, well-mannered young men.”

When these allegations—and their lasting impact—are brought up, both Sanders and Jones make it clear the team wants to move on. Neither seem eager to discuss it, but they are adamant about holding the team responsible, even when the result is not to their benefit.

“I will say the behavior is the past, for over the last four years, the basketball team has had two known cases of sexual assault,” Sanders concedes. “Already having a negative perception of us and that happening, it’s frustrating to hear. We talk about this all the time, we’re aware there’s a spotlight on us.”

Sanders makes his frustration clear. While basketball was held accountable—and rightfully so, Sanders says—he also feels the actions of years’ past are used to define the current team, which is not the case in other departments.

“There’s a blind eye turned towards [other departments],” explains Sanders. “It’s not who we are, I can’t speak for everyone and every little instance, but we talk about this all the time. We’re aware there’s a spotlight on us that isn’t on other [student groups].”

This spotlight, as Sanders puts it, takes an already negative perception and amplifies it, giving students reason to ostracize athletics. The negative public image translates into passive—and, in more than a few instances, not-so-passive—behavior towards athletes on campus. In recent years, leadership has focused on changing behavior within the team in order to change their reputation on campus.

“If you’re ignorant, and we already have that negative perception and spotlight, we need to [educate] more,” says Sanders. “It’s to promote and maintain a good perception not just for how we’re seen on campus, but for recruits coming in, for faculty, and staff. People are watching how you’re behaving, there’s an emphasis on that.”

Jones echoed Sanders’ statement, emphasizing the role of older players in creating a new legacy for the team, in hopes it translates to a widespread campus acceptance.

“It’s the culture from the top,” explains Jones. “The juniors and seniors now, coming from what we’ve learned and passing it down. We’ve learned our lessons from these past incidents, we’ve explained to them and the freshmen and sophomores we have now are very nice. We teach them the right way to act.”

“When you go out on a Friday or Saturday night you have responsibility. You're not only representing yourself but you’re representing the basketball team as a whole,” continues Jones. “That’s something I preach: respect, respect, respect.”

The lingering question still persists: how much of the basketball team’s isolation is chosen, and how much is the result of ostracization from the greater campus community?

Unsurprisingly, there’s no real answer, at least not one that’s puts the onus entirely on one group. Members of the team are involved in separate campus organizations—like clubs and on-campus jobs—yet, as Jones mentioned earlier, it’s rare to find a basketball player on campus without his teammates.

“We don’t just play basketball together, we work out together, we eat together, we hang out on weekends,” says Sanders. Sanders believes this comradery makes for better play; a sense of knowledge about teammates that would be unattainable without all the time spent together outside of practice.

In a sense, it’s an impossible situation. Either basketball players isolate their social circles to their teammates and come to terms with their negative perceptions, or reach out to the greater community. The second option comes at the possible expense of losing the flow Sanders describes, and the risk of vulnerability to a campus that may remain cold and unwelcoming.

***

Sanders is clear he doesn’t want to play victim. Neither does Jones, for that matter. Both are protective when talking about their team, but acknowledge the program’s faults. When I ask Sanders if he feels the ostracization is unique or more prevalent with the men’s basketball program, he vehemently denies it, telling me similar instances of aggressive behavior he’s heard from friends across the athletics department.

They are also eager to share stories about the team; how they spend weekends playing video games or working out together. Sanders stops mid-question to say hi to his coach across the lawn. Minutes later, he introduces me to one of his teammates, asks him how he’s feeling after a knee surgery that occurred the day prior. Both repeatedly apologize for not directly answering my questions, or rambling. They both understand how certain aspects of the team can provoke judgment, but reject the negative traits often associated with athletes.

“I don’t think we’re your typical jocks,” claims Jones. “A typical jock at Sarah Lawrence would have a rough time, most of the kids who are typical jocks don’t stay, they leave after a year. The guys who stick around after that year are usually the nerdy kind of guys.”

“We don't think we're better than you or that we are entitled or anything, we just want to be cordial and connect,” agrees Sanders. “We want to get and give love, in a way.”

Sanders’ sentiment does not go unnoticed. Players are involved in many different parts of campus life, including the Student-Athlete Advisory council and within different campus spaces, and the team attends campus events throughout the year. While this participation understandably declines during the season, Jones is quick to mention the overlap between programs that does occur.

“There’s a kid who does theater and basketball,” says Jones. “That makes the divide not as bad, and helps bridge the gap, like ‘I can play sports and be a theater kid.’”

What strikes me is the comparisons to theater. When providing examples of a “typical SLC student” both Jones and Sanders are quick to draw on the theater department. While these comparisons, both in type and quantity, seem unusual, they makes sense: with demanding schedules and a similar sense of comradery, theater is the closest parallel to the athletics department at SLC.

“I know how much it takes to be an actor, I’ve heard their stories,” explains Jones. “Just like they understand how tough it is for us, getting up at six in the morning and running from two and a half hours everyday. It’s a toll on their bodies. I know acting takes a toll on their bodies, [and] mentally.”

It’s also likely these comparisons come from the sheer size and influence the theater department has at SLC. It’s a complete flip-flop from many D-I universities, where athletes are seen as vital—bringing in big donations and press—as the theater students are relegated to their corner of the auditorium. However, in what could be characterized as a Troy Bolton-like sense of justice, Jones—who, earlier in our interview, toyed with the idea of trying out for a theater production in the spring—says the gap between theater students and athletes is closing.

“It shouldn't matter if you’re an athlete or a theater kid no matter what you do [...] that you can all have a conversation with each other that you can all coexist and just have fun,” says Jones. “As a senior, I would love to extend an olive branch to the theater kids. We can go to each other’s events we can support each other. We can coexist.”

***

If there’s anything Jones wants to convey to me during our interview, it’s how the alliance of athletics and greater campus will result in a better SLC.

“You’re stronger together than you are going against each other,” says Jones. “The school is so much better when people show school spirit, when people hang out together and they interact with each other.”

Sanders agees, citing last year’s homecoming game against the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy as an example of what school spirit, and community, can do for their team. According to Sanders, USMMA outweighed the team in “virtually every way,” yet the Gryphons were able to escape with a tight win in the final minutes. A few weeks later, when SLC played them again at an away game, they lost by fourteen points.

“Going along with our appeal to campus, one thing I look forward to is that positive outlook, to get people coming to games, excited to come to our events,” says Sanders. “We don’t talk about it much, but we do like to go to plays and other sports events, getting on campus and getting involved.”

Jones agrees: school spirit not only means better games, but a better community. However, he also recognizes that the team has had some fault in creating this gap between athletes and the rest of SLC—something they’ve spent years trying to fix.

“In years past it’s kinda been us against them, but since my freshman year it’s been, ‘let's mend the gap,’” agrees Jones. “As it gets passed down, we keep saying ‘let’s be friends, let’s be friends’, and you get the freshmen and sophomores, they actually become friends. You see theater kids and basketball kids interacting. Let’s not be against each other, let’s work together. We can coexist, it doesn’t have to be us versus them.”

While not to be mistaken for a plea, it’s clear that Jones’ sentiment is personal. Both Jones and Sanders have seen some of the worst of the aggression directed towards athletes. While they acknowledge that things aren’t changing at the rate they would like, and that all sides of the conflict have work to do, they also are glad they were the ones to experience the ostracization, so incoming athletes can better connect with the student body.

“It’s so much better than it was freshman year,” says Sanders. “But for people that are still worried about us, that we’re too aggressive, or disrespectful or we bite in some sense, we don’t. [...] We want to connect.”

“We’re kinda isolated people because people have [negative] perceptions of us. If that wasn’t true, maybe we would hang out with other groups but we’re kind of isolated as is it so that’s why we naturally hang out with each other,” says Jones. “It’s not because we don't want to socialize, it’s because some people have this view of us and that’s what forces us to come together even more.”

At the end of my interview with Jones, I ask him a question I’m not quite sure if he can answer: as a senior, approaching his final season with the Gryphons, what does he want his legacy to be?

Obviously, we’re not talking school records or athletic legacies here, but the impact he wants to have on the social culture at SLC. He pauses, opening his mouth to speak before hesitating to think some more. He says he’s having trouble compressing all his thoughts into one statement. After our interview, he says he’s going to give the question more thoughts and might get back to me with a follow up. But what he leaves me with feels like a perfect encapsulation of our interview: the team has not been without their faults, or missteps, or inexcusable actions, but this team—the current team, not last year’s team, or the year before—is working to not only change their campus perceptions, but their culture from the inside out. They’re putting in the time, they’re changing the status quo, they’re stepping outside their comfort zone. Now, all that’s left is to do is make mend the broken perceptions held by the greater SLC community, or, as Jones puts it, “bridge the gap.”

“Once people start open their arms to us, I really believe it could change,” claims Jones. “If anybody had a conversation with a basketball player, it would change their perception.”


Bella Rowland-Reid ‘21

SAAC Bridges Gap Between Athletes and Students

  The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee logo, taken from the group’s Facebook page.

The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee logo, taken from the group’s Facebook page.

As the gap between SLC students and athletics widens, SAAC co-chairs Andi Pfau, ‘20, and BJ Sanders, ‘20, are working to join athletes with the Sarah Lawrence and Yonkers community.

SAAC, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, is comprised of about 30 members, with two representatives from each sports team. Pfau is a junior on the women’s soccer team, and Sanders is a junior on both the men’s basketball and volleyball teams. The group meet every two weeks to discuss ways to “bridge the gap” between not only the athletic community and the rest of the student body, but also between SLC and Yonkers.

One way that they’ve done that this semester is by volunteering with Public School 30, a Pre-K through 8th grade school in Yonkers. “We go every Tuesday during recess and play with them for about two hours,” says Pfau. They hope to connect with the people in Yonkers and encourage the kids to stay active and enjoy play sports at any age. Pfau also says, “We want to do more work with Yonkers too this year, and find other ways to connect with the community. We also do a day of service every year with all of the teams.”

Another goal of SAAC is to engage the student body in more athletics on campus. Over the course of the year, they hope to have every team sponsor an event aimed towards blending the two communities and boosting school pride.

Last Friday, the women’s volleyball team hosted an event called Dig Pink, raising money for stage 4 Breast Cancer research sponsored by the Side-Out Foundation. They beat their online goal by over one hundred dollars, raising a total of $983, not including cash donations they received at the event. Other upcoming events include a pool party sponsored by the swim team, a homecoming dance at the Blue Room and Midnight Madness sponsored by the basketball team, and a block party. At basketball games this year, they want to start having theme nights, live performances of the National Anthem, and halftime shows performed by students in the Dance department.

Pfau says the teams are also excited about the Godric the Gryphon mascot tryouts coming up:  “We want to have tryouts for the mascot this year, because in the past it’s always been the same person, and now they’re gone and we want more people to get involved and be excited about the mascot.” A mascot, along with a substantial fan section, can make a huge difference in the morale of the team, and in most cases results in their playing better.

On the other hand, SAAC is also encouraging teams to support other communities on campus. Whether it’s going to see friends in theater performances or attending other organized events, the players make sure they don’t live their lives entirely on the field.

“We want to give support to the Sarah Lawrence community, and also get the same support back. … We’re hoping to have an actual fan section this year,” says Pfau.

So if SAAC has been around for years, why haven’t we heard of them before? Pfau says, “We struggled a lot last year with advertising and letting people know about events, everything just comes up so fast. A lot of people said they would’ve gone if they’d known about it.” This issue has been caused in previous years by SAAC being run more by faculty than students, which Sanders and Pfau say that they’re trying to stray away from, finding that planning and events are more successful when the students themselves are involved. They have undoubtedly resolved the issue this year, as the Dig Pink event on Friday was widely advertised through Facebook and email, and had a great turnout. SLC beat Cooper Union 3-0, making it their 4th win of the season.

While in the past SAAC may not have been the most outgoing organization, they are working hard this year to impact the dynamic between our two notoriously polarized communities, and become more active members of the Yonkers community. There’s no doubt that during this coming year, we’ll be hearing a lot of exciting news from SAAC.


Micaela Eckett ‘21

Comment

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Low Numbers Spell Out Difficulties for Men’s Cross Country

  “Gryphons lead the pack at the York Invitational, September 23rd.” Credit: GoGryphons.com

“Gryphons lead the pack at the York Invitational, September 23rd.” Credit: GoGryphons.com

After low numbers and race disqualifications plagued the beginning of the season, SLC Men’s Cross Country is finally hitting their stride, with many runners placing high and running record times in the weeks leading up to regional championships.

With two runners from the 2017-2018 season not returning, the Gryphons opened their season at the Adelphi Invitational with only four runners. Per NCAA rules, teams must have five runners finish the race in order to qualify for scoring and placement. If the team does not meet that minimum, they are disqualified and their scores are thrown out. If teams are unable to qualify for enough races, they are ineligible to compete in regionals, effectively ending the Gryphon’s season and eliminating their shot at making state championships or other postseason meets.

Because the first two meets of the season—the Adelphi Invitational and Purchase College Invitational—were held before students returned to campus, the team of four could not find new recruits in time and were disqualified from both races. While they were not yet in danger of being disqualified from the postseason, they still had to run knowing they could not score or place.

“It was very difficult [to run] because we weren’t scoring,” said Shin Narita, ‘21, who is currently running his second season with the team. “It was like, ‘What’s the point?’ I felt betrayed, like, what was I working for?”

Narita set a personal record at the Purchase Invitational, running an 8,000 meter race in a time of 30:22, finishing 37th out of 147 runners and beating the next Gryphon runner, Zack Roccaforte, ‘19, by thirty-one seconds. However, because the team only had four runners, the Gryphons were disqualified and the record time was thrown out.

Once students arrived on campus, the team recruited more runners, but not without facing new roadblocks.

One of the newest recruits to the team is Mario Jerez, ‘22. Jerez initially did not intend to run this year, instead planning on swimming with the Men’s Swim Team in winter.

“Only once I got here… [I asked] if I could do both cross country and swimming, and they said yes,” said Jerez. “So I ended up joining cross country late.”

With the addition of Jerez, the Gryphons were able to achieve the five-runner minimum to qualify in races. However, Jerez’s transition to the cross country team was was almost jeopardized by injury.

“I’ve had chronic shin splints since I’ve been here, just because it’s so much mileage I’m not used to,” explained Jerez.

Jerez ran his first race September 16th at the Queensborough Invitational, finishing fifth of the Gryphon runners. For Jerez, however, the race was less about placing and more making sure he could finish.

“The first race I ran I wasn’t prepared [to finish quickly] but Deanna [Culbreath, Head Coach], told me it’s not a race for me, it’s just about getting across [so the team would qualify].”

Jerez explains that while coaches didn’t ask him to race with his injuries, he put pressure on himself to race so the team could place, even with his shin splints.

“Even if I wasn’t going to run my best, it was just to get to the finish line so we could score,” he explained.

With the additions of first years Lee Brown and Alex Reith, the team now boasts seven runners. However, up until midseason the team ran non-rostered runners in races to ensure they would be able to qualify. While the team is still on the smaller size, Jerez believes the compact roster is what has brought them so close in the few weeks since school began.

“It’s a close-knit team, we have dinners together,” Jerez explains. “We try to support the rest of the athletic community on campus. We have fun with each other.”

Although the first few weeks of the season were rocky, the Men’s Cross Country team now consistently finishes in the top half of their races, and have not had to disqualify for a race since the Purchase Invitational in September.

“I feel more motivated to work my best,” said Narita. “Now that [the team is] actually scoring and qualifying there’s a tangible measure for how we do, something that we didn’t have before we had a full team.”

Multiple runners, from Narita to Jerez later in the season, have set new personal records. At the most recent meet, the NJIT Highlander Challenge, Roccaforte posted a season-high time of of 28:35, finishing fifth among all Skyline runners. At that same meet, Narita ran the fourth-fastest time in school history, completing the 8k in 29:44.

After weeks of struggling to qualify for races, the Gryphons are taking full advantage of their seven-person roster, turning some of the most impressive numbers in recent memory. For those looking to see the team in action, catch their next race at the Skyline Conference Championships on Thursday, October 25th at the Hudson Valley Sportsdome.

Bella Rowland-Reid, ‘21

Comment

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Meet the Rookies: Softball Edition

  SLC Softball prior to a game over spring break in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Credit: GoGryphons.com

SLC Softball prior to a game over spring break in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Credit: GoGryphons.com

As the weather heats up and flowers bloom around campus, the start of spring marks something different for SLC softball players: the beginning of a new season. With a revamped roster and a successful tournament already under their belts, these first year players are ready to hit the fields.

Delaney Parker

Hometown: Milford, New Hampshire

High School: Milford High School

Position: Pitcher, Infield

Fun Fact: Can lick both elbows

A seasoned softball player, Parker was keen to engage in other aspects of campus life as an athlete.

“I really enjoy softball, but I also really enjoy doing musicals and other stuff,”  Parker said. “When I met the team it was really cool because there were a lot of people with different interests. It was somewhere where I could do softball, but also do the music-related things I wanted to do.”

Furthermore, Parker has found the bond she’s created with her teammates especially rewarding as she’s transitioned into the college division.

“As a player, it really helps me do better when I’m around a lot of people who I’m really comfortable with,” explained Parker. “I love the team… we all just get along so well.”

After months of long practices and built up to the season, Parker is confident that the new influx of talent will push SLC softball beyond their previous success. With a spring break tournament resulting in huge wins over competing programs Albertus Magnus College and Lesley University, the hard work is already starting to pay off.

“We have a chance to do really well this season,” said Parker. “I think this is going to be the best year in the history of Sarah Lawrence softball.”

Adrienne Samuels

Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota

High School: Columbia Heights High School

Position: First Base, Catcher

Fun Fact: Is fascinated by maps and cartography

When Samuels originally committed to SLC, she did not plan to play softball. However, after contacting the team’s coach, she changed her mind — and could not be happier with the community she’s found in the softball program.

“I love having the support of a team, and I wasn’t ready to lose that as a freshman in college,” explained Samuels.

After a tournament in South Carolina drew the team closer, Samuels, like many other newcomers, was thrilled to find her own support systems in her teammates.

“We all support each other on and off the field,” Samuels said. “We know how to pick each other up and we have each other’s backs.”

While, like any Division-III program, athletics are not the main focus of her collegiate career, Samuels believes that the passion for the sport binds her teammates together. As the season continues, Samuels is also excited to see how the team fares in the talented Skyline conference.

“Our team is a lot different than in past years,” explained Samuels. “We’re proving to other teams that we are a team to look out for.”

Samuels is also excited to see more student support from the SLC community. Located at Marshall Field against a backsplash of lush trees and a steep hill for students to sit, the softball diamond is a premiere spot for a picnic, something that Samuels hopes will lure students to a few games throughout the season.

“It means a lot when other students show up, even if [they] don’t understand the sport or what [they’re] watching,” remarks Samuels. Laughing, she adds, “You learn when to clap.”

Skyler Vallarta

Hometown: Brea, California

High School: Sonora High School

Position: Outfield

Fun Fact: Wants to study photography and journalism at SLC

Another experienced softball player, Vallarta was initially drawn to the down-to-earth and friendly atmosphere the team provided.

“If I didn’t like the team, I probably wouldn’t have played,” admitted Vallarta. “I’ve played on teams where people think they’re better than everyone else, and [the SLC team] wasn’t like that.”

Furthermore, as a part of a DIII school and New York’s Skyline Conference, Vallarta felt more comfortable playing with SLC than an intenser, more competitive program that schools in higher divisions might offer. Though many programs might prioritize performance over other aspects of the sport, Vallarta’s passion for playing softball is what helped her decide to continue playing at the collegiate level.

“I mostly just play for fun,”  Vallarta revealed. “I like winning, but I’m not too serious about it.”

Like many of her teammates, Vallarta is happy to have found her community within the softball program at SLC. Like many student athletes at Sarah Lawrence, their collegiate experiences aren’t defined just by athletics,

“One of the reasons I joined was for the social aspect,” Vallarta said. “I like being able to hang out with the team.”

With more home games on the horizon for the Gryphons, Vallarta is excited to see members of the SLC community come out and support the program, and encourages students to come out and watch the sport through a view most other fields don’t have.

“We have a really nice field.… At most fields, spectators would sit behind the home plate and watch the game,” explained Vallarta. “You have to watch it by the hill and the outfield… you have a different view of the game.”

Becky Roberts

Hometown: Neptune Township, New Jersey

High School: St. Rose High School

Position: Outfield

Fun Fact: Has a black belt in karate.

Like many of the first years on the team, Roberts wasn’t exactly sure if she wanted to play softball coming into SLC.

“I played softball up until I was fourteen and I stopped playing,” explained Roberts.

While she initially stopped playing due to grievances with her high school team, she decided to pick the sport back up again after attending a team meeting and learning more about the community at SLC.

“I heard a lot of good things about the team,” Roberts said. “I wanted a way to make friends, so I thought about it… and then said ‘why not just start playing softball again?’”

While the start to the season was postponed due to inclement weather, Roberts is excited to watch the team progress, and ready for the team to test themselves against skilled competition.

“I like the competitiveness,” said Roberts.

Additionally, Roberts has found what she calls a family with her teammates, citing the comradery of the team as a big component of why she enjoys the SLC program.

“The team is very familial,” she continues. “Everyone cares for each other and everyone is willing to help a person up when they fall down, whether it be inside or outside of softball.”

As more games begin to take place at Marshall Field, Roberts is eager to gain an audience, especially as the team begins hits their competitive stride.

“It’s a beautiful place to sit and a fun game to watch.”

Alexa Zartman-Ball

Hometown: Washington, D.C.

High School: The Madeira School

Position: Utility

Fun Fact: Has an aversion to spoons

A trend between the first years on the team, what attracted Zartman-Ball to the softball program at SLC was the bond teammates form with one another.

“Our team is full of so many talented girls personalities, and it’s an environment that I really enjoyed,”  Zartman-Ball said. “Advancing myself into college softball has been really fun and an adventure.”

During the college search, Zartman-Ball knew the softball program was something she wanted to look into. When she discovered SLC, where she could create her own educational path and remain close to her home in D.C., she knew the school and its program would be a perfect fit for her.

“The team is really special, it’s a bond you won’t find anywhere else,”  Zartman-Ball said. “It’s definitely a second family.”

Furthemore, Zartman-Ball is excited to be a part of a program that is already eclipsing past season successes. So far the team holds a 6-6 record, just coming off a pair of a wins against Lehman College March 28. The doubleheader also marked a season-high scoring record for a Gryphons, batting in seventeen runs in the second game, a trend Zartman-Ball hopes to continue as the season progresses.

“We have a lot of talent this year. This team is the team to take seriously.”

Bella Rowland-Reid '21

Journalist Barbara Barker Discusses Sexism in Sports at SLC

  Sports journalist Barbara Barker and SLC Professor Marek Fuchs discuss sexism in sports. Credit: Kristen Maile/Twitter: @GoGryphonsAD

Sports journalist Barbara Barker and SLC Professor Marek Fuchs discuss sexism in sports. Credit: Kristen Maile/Twitter: @GoGryphonsAD

On Feb 7, Newsday sportswriter and columnist Barbara Barker visited Sarah Lawrence for a conversation on sexism and sports. Interviewed by journalism professor Marek Fuchs, Barker spoke about her experiences as one of the first female journalists in the sports section. Throughout the interview, Barker discussed both her own journey as a sportswriter and the problem of sexism in sports journalism.

“There weren’t that many sportswriters,” Barker said of her early days in the profession. “When you got hired, [publishers] didn’t want you to be there. They checked off a box but didn’t offer support.”

Quickly becoming the first woman to cover both the New York Giants football team and Knicks basketball team, Barker faced multiple hurdles in the first few years of her career.

“A lot of interviews are done in the locker room [postgame],” Barker said. “I would try and enter the locker rooms, but the security wouldn’t let me in [...] because I was a woman.”

However, in 1978, a lawsuit filed against the New York Yankees ruled that no female journalist could be denied entry into a locker room, citing a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Either women must be allowed in the locker rooms with their male colleagues, or all interviews had to be conducted outside. While covering University of California Los Angeles football in the early days of her career, Barker had a startling experience when the team was forced to conduct their interviews outside.

“I was the only woman there, and a man turned around and pointed at me and said, ‘You did this!’” Barker said. “They blamed it on me when they weren’t allowed in the locker rooms.”

Over time, however, Barker has noticed it’s been a lot easier for women to conduct interviews in locker rooms.

“Athletes don’t care anymore. Everybody has cameras now, who cares if there’s a woman in the locker room?” Barker explained. “Any given day for baseball, there are at least four women in the locker rooms.”

Barker said she also faced difficulties depending on the sports she was covering. While she has spent a majority of her career covering the NBA and NFL, Barker has reported on most major sports and has found that certain athletes more difficult to interview than others.

“Interviewing baseball [players] was never difficult,” Barker said. “Football was much harder — some people didn’t talk to me.”

Barker has also noticed similar trend within the fans and officials of the sports she reports on.

“NFL fans are different than NBA fans,” Barker noted. “The league [board] is not as diverse, they offer one perspective. When you don’t have diversity, it leads to problems.”

Over her years of reporting, Barker has also noticed a sharp increase in the marketability of NBA stars, like Stephen Curry and LeBron James, and their fans.

“Basketball fans skew the youngest and have the most advertisers. The players are likeable guys who’ve transcended sports.”

During the interview, Barker also discussed the new struggles for reporters in the past couple years, including the inflation of reporting outlets and athlete marketing strategies.

“There’s so much media now — it becomes very difficult to access players,” Barker explained. “It’s very controlled.”

“Athletics are also much more savvy about realizing their marketing potential,” Barker added. “They’re more careful about what they say. It’s not good for journalists.”

Barker’s struggles in her field were not limited to her interactions with athletes or other journalists, but also facing the stigmas of readers.

“People used to call newspapers to look up statistics,” Barker said. “I would answer the phone for the sports section… and people would ask to talk to a male reporter [instead].”

The conversation was also held on National Women and Girls in Sports Day, a national celebration of the achievements of women in sports and acknowledgement of the progress and continuing struggle for gender equity in sports. Fittingly, Barker also talked about the importance of accessible athletic programs for young women.

“I wasn’t much of an athlete...There weren’t that many opportunities for girls,” Barker said about growing up in Ohio. “Teen sports build character, they take the tools they learn and apply it to their lives.”

After her conversation with Fuchs, Barker answered audience questions, ranging from her own experiences covering particular stories to the future of female sports reporting.

“We need more coverage of women’s sports,” Barker said. “There is a large inequality in the number of fans between men’s and women’s leagues, mostly because a lot of fans and advertisers don’t know about them. If they get more reporting, these sports will become just as popular and successful as men’s.”

With more than two decades of sports reporting under her belt, Barker’s career in journalism has not only paved the way for more female sportswriters, but contributed to an ever-evolving conversation about the need for gender equity in athletics and journalism. As this conversation continues, Barker’s own personal philosophies have been shaped by her work in the field, something she made a point of noting in her interview.

“I was not a feminist before I went into the job,” said Barker. “Now I am.”

Bella Rowland-Reid '21

Gryphons Athletics Tackles LGBT Bias

  Former NBA player Jason Collins (center) with President Cristle Collins Judd and Athletic Director Kristen Maile. Credit: Sarah Lawrence Athletics

Former NBA player Jason Collins (center) with President Cristle Collins Judd and Athletic Director Kristen Maile. Credit: Sarah Lawrence Athletics

On Jan. 19, Sarah Lawrence College teamed up with the Nike BeTrue Campaign to host a panel on LGBTQ discrimination in sports, titled “Pride on the Court.” Speakers included President Cristle Collins Judd, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and Majority Leader Michael Sabatino, the first openly gay Yonkers City Council member. The panel also featured Saunders High School basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo, Nike Senior Director Robert Goman and former NBA player Jason Collins.

In 2013 Collins, a free agent at the time, came out as gay, making him the first ‘out’ player in NBA history. During his live interview with Goman, Collins shared his experiences of both prejudice and achievement on and off the court.

“I knew that I was gay since I was a junior in high school,” Collins said. “I always knew that I had different feelings, but I always told myself that I would meet the right girl and all these feelings would go away. I didn’t accept myself.”

Since coming out, Collins has become a vocal advocate for ending LGBTQ discrimination in athletics. In 2013, Collins also became the first person to wear a piece from the Nike BeTrue line of clothing, debuting a t-shirt at the Boston Pride parade. BeTrue, a Nike campaign that began in 2012, is a clothing and footwear line devoted to ending gender and sexuality discrimination in sports. Since its inception, the campaign has donated over 2.5 million dollars to LGBTQ causes.

“The idea of BeTrue as a whole is to open the space for you to be who you really are,”  Goman said. “Play your sport at the very best, and not have to worry about what people may think.”

Collins is now very open about his experiences as a gay basketball player, including his childhood in a religious home and homophobic experiences with opposing players. Yet it was a long journey before he felt comfortable expressing his feelings publicly, particularly as an adolescent.

“I was angry. I was angry that I wasn’t able to accept myself,” Collins said . “Luckily, I had basketball as an outlet. In basketball, it’s okay to be aggressive.”

Saunders Blue Devils coach Anthony Nicodemo, also an openly gay man, discussed his own experiences coming out to his players in 2013. He is believed to be the first gay basketball coach in New York.

“I wasn’t sure how I was going to tell [his team] at first,”  Nicodemo said. Since coming out, however, his players have met people that he’s dated. “I’m a lot more open now.”

During a post-panel Q&A session, Collins addressed how athletes can support their LGBTQ teammates, regardless of whether they are publically out.

“Something that made me feel safe to come out was the signals I saw [from teammates],and that’s something you guys can do,”  Collins said. “Whether it’s wearing a pride pin or what you’re retweeting, signaling to the world that you’re an ally.”

These signals, both direct and indirect, were integral in making Collins feel comfortable enough with his friends and teammates to come out.

“If you see someone new to a situation, have that moment with them and make them feel welcome, make them feel accepted to be who they are,” Collins continued. “You might only get one chance, and you have to be ready for that opportunity.”

The entire Sarah Lawrence men’s basketball team attended the event, along with the men’s teams of Saunders High School of Yonkers and Somers High School teams of Somers, New York. They were joined by representatives from the Gay Straight Alliances of many Yonkers-area high schools, and other student groups from across the district. The event was open to the public, and many SLC students, administrators, and professors were present as well.

Following the event, on Jan. 20, the Gryphons hosted a doubleheader as part of the Nike BeTrue event. All money made from admissions went to the Hudson Valley Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

Clad in BeTrue gear, the Gryphons warmed up to music by Zeke Thomas, openly gay son of retired NBA star Isiah Thomas. They then took on the Purchase College Panthers, a team that handed them a tight loss earlier in the season. After the first game, Saunders and Somers faced off on the Gryphon court, where the Blue Devils took the win 77-46.

Gryphons won the game against Purchase 81-79, a late win that stands as SLC’s first ever against their Skyline Conference rivals. Sophomore Luke O’Connor led the team in three-pointers, sinking four out of his five attempts, while first year Enike Anyia went 5-6 in free throws.

Isabella Rowland-Reid, '21

SLC Athletes Bring a New Perspective to Campus

 slc swim team. taken from http://www.gogryphons.com.

slc swim team. taken from http://www.gogryphons.com.

As a small liberal arts school nestled in the crossroads of Yonkers and Bronxville, Sarah Lawrence is foreign to the bright lights and big stadiums of nationally-ranked athletic programs. While athletics have existed at the college for decades, they have only recently gained prominence in the school’s culture in the last few years. For athletes, this prominence signals a shift in SLC culture, one that is not always celebrated.

Austin Jones, ‘19, came into SLC as a basketball recruit. Coming from a liberal arts high school, the college seemed like a continuation of the academically-driven education he had, while also giving him the opportunity to make a name for himself in the basketball program.

"[Sarah Lawrence] athletics were new,” said Jones. “I thought, this could be my chance to be a pioneer of the program and get it off on the right foot.”

While SLC has fostered athletic teams for much of its existence, the college only joined the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) in 2012. As a Division III institution, a division assigned to the college based on its small size, emphasis is placed on conference and regional competition. While athletes from larger, Division I schools, such as Duke or Syracuse, may travel across the country to various tournaments and games, D-III athletes are often limited to their regional seasons and short playoff berths.

Because students at D-III schools are seen as scholars before athletes, much of the emphasis of SLC sports are based on intense play without compromising sportsmanship and academic success. However, for some athletes, the stigma of athletic culture at such an arts-focused school can be hard to shake on campus.

“A lot of people were really standoffish to me [as a first year],” admits Jones. “I was an athlete, I wasn’t really received well at first and I had to break down a lot of walls.”

These walls, Jones claims, mainly focused on misconceptions about hyper masculine athlete culture.

“They all think we’re kind of like frat boys, but we’re not really like those kids,” said Jones. “I’m into the arts, I’m into all the stuff that you are too, the only difference is that I happen to play a sport.”

Because SLC is a Division III school, the college is legally unable to give out athletic scholarships. Although high school athletes may participate in a recruitment process, they cannot be offered additional benefits based on athletic merits. While many high school athletes to carry on to participate in varsity programs at Division III schools, the vast majority — either those pursuing collegiate fame or in need of an athletic scholarship — are drawn to larger Division I institutions.

“We’re not playing a sport for money or fame,” said Shin Narita, ‘21. “We’re playing because we love it.”

Narita, a cross country runner, was not a high school athlete, instead opting to join cross country this past year. While he was nervous at first, Narita claimed he quickly found community within his teammates.

“I didn’t think I was really going to do it,” claimed Narita. “It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.”

While stigmatization of athletic programs at SLC is something athletes are actively fighting, it is not the only battle they must face during the season. For student athletes, it can be difficult balancing school work with practice, games, and other team events. This means little to no time for other extracurriculars, like club meetings or school social events.

“[Playing a sport] really hones your time management skills,” said Narita. “It forces you to work with maximum efficiency.”

Narita’s typical day during the season consisted of a 5:30 AM wake up call, with practice from 6-9AM. For Jones however, the days go much later, often having practices in the late evening or nighttime.

“On an average day, we go practice from 8 to 10 [PM], but i have to get to practice 30 or 40 minutes before to get treatment, get iced, make sure my body’s ready,” explained Jones. "Sometimes on a game night, that’s four or five hours of our day. A regular student can use that for work, we have a game to play.”

For Jones, this practice and game schedule can often spill over into the next day, throwing his schedule in an entirely different direction.

“Sometimes you don’t get out of practice until 11[PM],” said Jones. “Then you’re hungry and you’re tired, but you still have conference projects to do, so you may be up until 2AM just doing work. The next morning, you have class at nine, and you’re tired but you just have to keep going. Everybody else may have had the time but you didn’t.”

This tight schedule can often leave athletes with copious amounts of exhaustion. Not only may sleep or work be compromised, but the added physical exhaustion of practices five or more days a week can be detrimental to a student’s body.

“It’s a lot of mental stress,” said Jones. “Coaches are expecting you to do this, and classes are requiring a lot out of you and sometimes it can mentally take a toll.”

However, Narita says, the stress is well worth the reward.

“I feel closest to my teammates most of all because of how much we go through,” said Narita. “Going through a struggle together, having other people know what you’re going through […] it makes a bonding experience that will last the whole four years."

Similarly, Jones is grateful for the experiences he’s had at SLC.

“There was this kid my freshman year who came here to play basketball but he was a theater kid,” said Jones. “That showed kids that you can play a sport and still fit in here. It was  big deal to us, he kind of bridged the gap for us and as of late, students are more accepting of us.”

Even as the culture around SLC athletics continues to shift in the right directions, both Narita and Jones recognize there is more work to be done.

“When I tell people I do cross country, some of the responses are negative,” said Narita. “Sports aren’t everybody’s thing, but I also think some people don’t give it a chance.”

For Jones, the work consists of counting his work his first and second years in order to break down stereotypes of college athletes.

“There’s a big misconception of athletes here, that we’re all macho and think we’re all that, but we’re not,” said Jones. “If you get to know us [...] you’d realize we aren’t the typical jocks.”

As the years pass, Jones is excited to see the gap between athletes and the rest of the student body shrink, something he feels honored to be a part of.

“The biggest reward is seeing the growth of the campus,” said Jones. “When you see more athletes coming to the campus and you see the freshman athletes getting to know the freshman class and being accepted, the work you did freshman and sophomore year is starting to pay off. [...] They don’t get the eyes you did freshman year because you broke down some of those walls.”

While SLC may not be the flagship for college athletics, even at the D-III level, athletes are pushing for a more accepting college culture, one goal, point, or run at a time.

“People think we’re the dumb athletes ruining Sarah Lawrence, but in our view, we’re just trying to enhance it,” explained Jones. “We’re trying to bring in a different perspective.”

Bella Rowland-Reid '21

 

Gryphon Athletes Take a Knee for Justice

 Gryphons first year Lauren Ashby during a match against SUNY Maritime. Credit: GoGryphons.com

Gryphons first year Lauren Ashby during a match against SUNY Maritime. Credit: GoGryphons.com

On Sept. 1, 2016, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines by deciding to kneel rather than stand during the National Anthem prior to an NFL preseason game.

Motivated by his anger with rampant police brutality and systematic oppression of people of color in the United States, Kaepernick’s protest gained widespread attention, both positive and negative. Despite the fact that Kaepernick originally decided to kneel after a conversation with a retired Green Beret, some condemned Kaepernick’s actions as being disrespectful towards American veterans. Many athletes followed Kaepernick’s lead, provoking a new dialogue on the role of activism in sports.

“I’m all for people [kneeling],” says student and men’s basketball player Isaiah Pean, ‘21. “It’s a great way for people to express themselves and spread awareness about inequalities in America.”

Characterized by its liberal history and multitude of activist groups, SLC is no stranger to hard conversations about topics like racism and other oppressions. The college boasts a rich history of political involvement, including sit-ins, marches, and strikes for equality both within the campus and greater Yonkers community.

For athletes, sideline activism is a form of personal expression that cannot be encompassed by box scores and stat lines.

“It lets fans know that young people know about the political climate and have their own opinions,” said Pean. Currently, he is unsure whether or not he will be kneeling this upcoming basketball season because he feels his kneeling wouldn't "compare to Kaepernick." He will, however, continue to support both his teammates and athletes around the nation who do so. “It’s great,” confirms Pean. “It’s a shame the way some people have reacted.”

Like Pean, Lauren Ashby, ‘21, also believes that activism has a place in the world of athletics, even at the college level. “[Activism] sparks a political dialogue,” she says. “It’s a conversation that needs to be had.” A forward on the women’s soccer team, Ashby says members of the team have kneeled in three different games, after talking about it as a team.

While not every player took part in the demonstration, the main takeaway from the conversation was unity and respect within the team. “Every [player] made their own decision whether to kneel or stand,” said Ashby. “We all held hands.”

The conversation was facilitated by a team captain and coach Maurizio Grillo. While Ashby claims Grillo was supportive of the team’s decision to kneel, he was also adamant about learning the players’ intentions for their protest.

“[Grillo] wanted to make sure we were kneeling for a reason,” says Ashby. “Not to follow a fad.”

Afterwards, the team notified Gryphons athletic director Kristin Maile, who would likely be the one to diffuse any backlash from the greater community.

“We wanted to give [Maile] our statement of support,” says Ashby. Although many athletes at all levels have received threats for their political activism, Ashby says so far the team hasn’t faced any serious retaliation.

While the soccer team may have established their own views on first amendment advocacy on the field, Ashby admits that even at a school as politically involved as SLC,  students can often leave their political activism at the campus.

“There’s a lot of talk... but not always action,” says Ashby.

At a school where social justice and advocacy is so highly regarded, students often may not think about their own activism once they are no longer in reach of the college -- but for student athletes, whose influence can often transcend their own campus, this activism can come at both a high risk and reward.

Bella Rowland-Reid '21

 

Gryphon’s Softball Lays Groundwork for Exciting Future

 The 2017 Gryphons softball team. photo credit: Tony correa

The 2017 Gryphons softball team. photo credit: Tony correa


On some afternoons the most prominent sound coming from the Marshall Field music building isn’t music at all, but rather the chatter and chants of a college softball game. The Sarah Lawrence softball team, four years into the NCAA, has been busy laying the groundwork for a competitive legacy.  The team is young and continuing to acquire talent through each recruiting class.  Infielder Taryn Penna (‘19) recounts, “My class was the first real recruitment class.  When we got here, the returning players were excited about us and ready to start competing.  Now over a year later, there is a mix of pre-recruitment players and recruits, and the team is fiercer than ever.”
 
Establishing a competitive program is a difficult process, but it has been a rapid evolution for the Gryphons, improving yearly from a difficult 2-26 season in 2013.  Despite a noticeably small team of only 11 players, the Gryphons have been impressive in their rise and resilience. Pitcher and infielder Kameron McNair (‘18) describes the team’s advancement, “It’s been incredible seeing the team grow, even if not literally in numbers.  The program I joined two years ago is not the program I play with today.”  McNair is one of the Gryphon’s three pitchers, along with Mikayla Cunningham (‘19) and new recruit Karissa Mcauley (‘20).

Mcauley expressed that her appreciation of playing for SLC goes beyond the field. “[Sarah Lawrence] stood out because I know I can still be competitive and play the sport I love and focus on my education as well,” she said. 

Penna also attested to the team’s impressive work ethic as an integral part of the team’s improvement, saying, “Every person on the team has been working extremely hard to reach and surpass the next level of competition.”
 
Of course, the trajectory of success the Gryphons comes from more than pure talent. Coaches, Chelsea Sheehan and Kevin Carbon, have worked to establish a supportive and enthusiastic culture.“They care so much about us and push us hard every day to be the best team we can possibly be.  They’ve done so much in the past three years to make it what it is now,” said outfielder Sarah Shapiro (‘19). Shapiro went on to explain that the leadership of the coaches has rubbed off on the attitude of the team as a whole: “People want to be here, we like each other, and we want to get better.  I think sometimes you’re on a team where people don’t really like each other and they just like the sport, but that’s not what this team is.  We pick each other up and hold each other accountable and I think that’s what has made us a better team.”
 
With eight games left in the season, including a final home double-header against Lehman College on April 26, the Gryphons have an opportunity to make history with their strongest season to date.

There is a definite expectation that the SLC softball program will continue to turn heads in the Skyline Conference. The team is confident in its future abilities, because of their work ethic, the return of athletes from study abroad, as well as an impressive recruiting class for 2018.  

Penna described the team’s enthusiasm for the incoming class and future expectations. “Next year we have more recruits that are excited to grow the program with us. The building process really is a group effort,” Penna said.  “I'm excited for the new talent on the team and for them to experience Sarah Lawrence as a school.”  

Moving forward, the team is poised for success and anticipation is high as a once struggling program sits on the cusp of an exciting, bright future.  In agreement with her other teammates, Shapiro affirmed the positive changes of softball team: “It’s crazy how different [the team] is from when I came.  I’m so proud to be a part of what this team is becoming, and I can’t imagine what it will be like when I come back after a few years.”  

David Levin (‘19)

Comment

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Salsa Club Spices up SLC

  A  photo of the Salsa club members following dance teacher Josie LaRiccia’s instruction. Photo Credits: ian gonzalez

A photo of the Salsa club members following dance teacher Josie LaRiccia’s instruction. Photo Credits: ian gonzalez

“So last summer I took up salsa, basically because my mom forced me to and I really started to like it and I really wanted to learn more about it and dance with friends,” said Ian Gonzalez (’19), Salsa Club founder. “Then I looked at the course catalogue for Sarah Lawrence and noticed that there is no salsa dancing offered here as part of our dance third program and no really latin inspired dance whatsoever [...] I saw a void that needed to be filled here. I was talking to people about it and there was a bunch of people interested and I decided why not [start a club],” Gonzalez said. In addition to this void, Gonzalez had political motivation; “I was [also] partially inspired by this after the election of 2016, [by] thinking of salsa dancing as a form of active resistance. A resistance in the sense that no matter what happens at a political level, we are going to hold onto culture and we’re going to have fun,” Gonzalez explained.

In the beginning of March, Gonzalez gained funding for his club through The Diana Chambers Leslie Fund, which grants money to community building projects and student leadership organizations. “The club is basically based on us hiring a professional from the city and bringing her out every week, so if we didn’t have [the funds for it], then I probably would’ve had to teach the club which would’ve been a disaster,” Gonzalez shared.

Every Friday at 8:15 p.m. in McCracken's dance studio, 20 to 30 students join Gonzalez and Josie LaRiccia, Italian dance teacher and owner of Josie’s International School of Dance, to learn her moves. Students aren’t required to bring a partner or to have any prior dancing experience. “I was surprised by the turnout because I think that it’s [a] good [number] for Sarah Lawrence. A lot of people were hesitant about joining just because it’s a totally new skill [...] We’re always alternating partners and for some people that prospect was a little daunting,” Gonzalez reflected.

“We are all pretty much beginners, so [LaRiccia] started us from square one and has been super patient with us and we are a bit rowdy sometimes, but she doesn’t mind, she goes right with it. I think that it’s a really good fit for both of us,” Gonzalez said. In the beginning of each salsa lesson, LaRiccia reviews the previous week’s basic steps. She uses software to slow down the music so that the fast pace isn’t overwhelming. “Since there’s new faces every week, we sort of start a little slowly to accommodate for them. Once we are done for that, we move right into partner work, which is basically all the leaders in one line and all the followers in one line and we just rotate,” Gonzalez said.

Not only is the group accommodating to beginners, but it’s super inclusive of everyone: “The club doesn’t enforce any classic male being the leader, female being the follower. We allow anybody to do either [role]. So if you identify as male and you want to follow, that’s totally cool and vice versa,” Gonzalez said. Even though traditional salsa dancing is gendered, Gonzalez wanted to take a progressive approach to embracing the artform.

Gonzalez’s future plan for the club includes growth: “both in our numbers and our scope.” He plans to increase the amount of club members, improve their dancing skills, learn new dances, such as bachata, and reach out to the Yonkers and N.Y.C. community. “We are also planning on going to salsa clubs and socials and I’m a van driver so I’m planning on bringing the club and whoever is interested to salsa events and showing off our new skills there,” Gonzalez said. Right now the only set in stone event is the salsa social that LaRiccia holds on the first Sunday of the month. Gonzalez is excited to expand the salsa club by bringing the members out into the community.

“It’s a very fun, active thing to do, but sort of beyond that it’s a really cool language to learn and I really do think it is a physical language. Since it really is a form of communication between two people, once you do one movement, the other person knows how to respond immediately. It’s sort of like a code. It’s a really sort of interesting way to get to know someone,” Gonzalez said.

The club will continue to meet on Friday nights, as well as a few Sundays to gain extra practice time. “If anybody is trying to join and has any sort of perceived issues, they can just talk to me and we can definitely figure something out,” Gonzalez added.

Alexa Di Luca (‘19)

1 Comment

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Dunking His Way Into Senior Year: Jeff Jordan

 Student jeff jordan photographed across the street from the sports center. photo courtesy f gogryphons. 

Student jeff jordan photographed across the street from the sports center. photo courtesy f gogryphons. 

We live in a culture of instant gratification, most especially in the millennial world.  The forces of ‘now’ impede many from making short-term sacrifices for long-term gain.  FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real force to reckon with and the idea of surrendering the spotlight for a quiet desk in the library is not reflective to a lot of guys with hoop dreams. Jeff Jordan (‘17), the Gryphons’ basketball team’s guard, forward and leader as well as Skyline honor roll member for two consecutive years, has made hard choices and short-term sacrifices in his drive toward long-term gains. 

In the final weeks of his senior basketball season, Jordan reflected back on the decisions, teams and friends that have made his time at Sarah Lawrence unique and special.

Jordan’s basketball journey began over a decade ago at the age of six, and just like so many young men around the world, his passion for the game has fueled his desire to constantly improve at the sport. After sixteen years of playing, Jordan touched on the aspects that drew him to the sport and what keeps him motivated. “The family and unity that being on a team brings, the desire to reach common goal, the fact that I get to come in every day and improve personally. I just love seeing good results knowing that I worked hard for it,” he said.

Over the years Jordan’s game has seen many changes. He started as a point guard in high school, but he has played almost every position for Sarah Lawrence’s team headed by Coach Chris Ehmer. However, bigger changes took place off the court. After his freshman year at Bard College, Jordan transferred to Sarah Lawrence for its accessibility to the city. The switch made it difficult and uncomfortable for the aspiring lawyer when Sarah Lawrence played against Bard.  

But the Sarah Lawrence team embraced Jordan and his talents. Jordan was voted as team captain for his junior year. Midway through his leadership, he had to leave the team to dedicate time to studying for his law school exams. 

As a collegiate student-athlete, Jordan has seen much success not only in the gym, but also in his classes. His mantra is school first, basketball second, and from there, everything else will fall into place. Jordan will be attending The University of Pittsburgh School of Law next fall.  
On campus, Jordan has been quite active. Apart from wanting to get to know people and be immersed in the community, he’s worked in residence life, the Campbell Sports Center and has taken advantage of law firm internships and others in the city. In addition, he has been a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and the Law Studies Club.

As he enters the last six games of this season, Jordan looked back at this team, the team that marks the end of his basketball career. “I really like this team, off the court we all get along, everyone supports each other and we genuinely care about each other’s well being. I think every team needs that, it builds great chemistry,” Jordan said. “But on the court we have some things we need to work on, and I think they slowly are changing, the culture is changing. People are working harder and because of that the intensity will rise.”
 
Justice Nikkel ‘20

Comment

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Mascot Tryouts: Behind the Scenes of the Blind Audition

 THE SLC GRYPHON MASCOT PHOTOGRAPHED DURING A GAME IN CAMPBELL Sports center. photo credit: tony correa. 

THE SLC GRYPHON MASCOT PHOTOGRAPHED DURING A GAME IN CAMPBELL Sports center. photo credit: tony correa. 

Along with her many duties in the Campbell Sports Center, Erin Pomykala, assistant director of physical education, is the woman behind the vast amount of email blasts about sports events, gym classes and most importantly, the Sarah Lawrence College (SLC) mascot tryouts. Each year she sends out one of her infamous emails concerning the tryouts and receives interest from a handful of students.
 
The Gryphon, named after Godric Gryffindor, was chosen in the 1990s to represent Division III athletic teams. Since then, the mascot has made several appearances at home and away games. The position pays nine dollars an hour and has flexible work hours.
 
“I think [the job] is something different [...] It’s kind of that feeling of no one knows who I am and I can kind of get away with a little bit more in acting goofy [...] and just having fun,” said Pomykala.
 
While in the middle of the tryout process this year, Pomykala reflected on what finding the school mascot is really like. “It’s kind of like a blind audition. People just email me saying that they’re interested,” she said.
 
Five students tried out to be the mascot this year, compared to a total of eight last year. “[It was] really six, but unfortunately one of them was just a little too short for the costume [...] She looked at me and I kinda looked at her and I was like yeah, I don’t this is gonna work. So it was really funny,” Pomykala said with a laugh.
 
This is the first year that height has been an issue during the tryouts.
 
“The costume is the size it is and to be on the taller side does help because [...] it’s almost like a safety hazard because if the costume is too long, you’re going to be tripping over it [...] Plus too, it’s kind of a unisex costume. One size is supposed to fit all [...] I think anyone over probably like 5’6’’ would probably be a good indication,” she explained.
 
The tryouts are not as competitive as students might imagine them to be. Pomykala ends up hiring about four or five gryphons every year. This removes a ton of pressure from the actual tryout process.
 
In addition, Pomykala runs the tryouts on an individual basis, making sure to make time to meet with each student. She structures the qualifications into three reasonable facets: comfort, enthusiasm and availability.
 
“My biggest thing is making sure you’re comfortable [...] putting on the head, the costume, the feet, the hands. For some people that makes them very claustrophobic because with the helmet you are restricted [...] Your peripheral vision gets a little distorted,” she said.
 
While the mascot’s safety and comfort are the top priorities for Pomykala, she also values the student’s level of enthusiasm. “It’s important that they can move around the gym while engaging with the crowd in a comfortable and safe way,” she pointed out.
 
The third aspect of the tryout is discussing the student’s availability. Since Pomykala realizes that scheduling can be difficult, she is thankful that she has the safety net of multiple gryphons. She also uses the mascot selectively.
 
“So we try to make it at more special events. Just because I think if the mascot was at every game, it would kind of lose its luster [...] and unfortunately students’ schedules don’t always work where that is a possibility,” Pomykala said.
 
To accommodate students’ busy schedules and the surplus of SLC sporting events, there is the potential to have the gryphon in two places at once; however, there are conflicts around this possibility.
 
“So we have two costumes. The problem is the head on one of the costumes was supposed to have a fan in it, but somehow through the years it’s kind of fallen apart inside where the metal is kind of exposed,” she explained.
 
Currently, the mascots have only been sharing one costume. Efforts to repair the second costume will hopefully be made in the future.
 
Pomykala reflected on the mascots that she has hired in years past.

“We’ve had gryphons where they’ve forgotten to, you know, dress the gryphon [...] so the gryphon comes out in like a basketball jersey and no shorts. So for anyone else they probably wouldn’t notice it, but we notice it because we are like we have a half naked gryphon,” she said with a laugh.

Due to the anonymity of the job, Pomykala said that she is unable to disclose any names of the students trying out. 

Alexa Di Luca '19

Comment

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Are You Running Away From Your PE Requirement?

 Jasper Soloff running on a treadmill in Campbell Sports Center. Photo credit: Andrea Cantor '17

Jasper Soloff running on a treadmill in Campbell Sports Center. Photo credit: Andrea Cantor '17

The Physical Education (PE) requirement and the consequences of not completing it have been the source of misinformation on Sarah Lawrence’s campus. The main rumor that has circulated the student body for several years is that a student can pay for the credit. A related speculation is that there is a fine for students who do not complete the credit. Not graduating or having to make up the PE credit during graduate school has also been perpetuated on this campus. But contrary to what we may have been told by tour guides or fellow students, the PE credit is neither New York state law nor will it affect your transcript in any way—at least for now.

Kristin Maile, director of athletics and physical education, explained the current reality of the PE credit: “[The] PE requirement has been around in some form since the very start of the College.  When the College issued paper transcripts, the transcript was stamped by the Registrar’s office to indicate that the PE requirement was met.  We were recently surprised to learn that this notation was lost with the shift to electronic transcripts.” 

Maile explains that the error has been an ongoing conversation with the dean’s office for the past semester. In the coming spring semester, the PE department hopes that the situation will be rectified and that the online transcript will have a place for the completion or incompletion of the PE credit requirement. 

Maile clarified the importance of the PE classes, beyond the PE credit requirement. She said, “[We] hope the positive consequence of the PE requirement is that every student will find a PE course that will turn into a life sport or skill that helps them realize and embrace the mind-body connection that John Dewey spoke about during the formative years of the College’s pedagogy.” 

The PE requirement of four credits can be fulfilled in various ways. A student may take a PE class, which may be physical or discussion based, acquiring two credits for a semester or one credit for half of semester. Another option is that a student joins a sport; a semester sport allocates two credits to fulfilling the requirement. Students may also get credit if they are in certain theater classes or dance third programs. After obtaining one credit, a student may do independent study with the ActivTrax program. Students who play a sport or belong to a gym outside of the school can also request credit. Sophomore transfer student must complete two credits and junior and senior transfer students are exempt from the requirement altogether.

The PE department recommends that students complete two credits of their PE requirement by their first year.

Sarah Thal (’20) discussed her experience taking a PE course during her first semester. “It was a semester long yoga class for two credits. I enjoyed it.  But I feel the PE credit is a bit silly, especially since you only need to take five classes out of six to receive the one credit and even though I suppose it's to promote healthy lifestyles,” Thal said. “ I feel as college students it's odd to have to have a PE credit when we also were required to have them in high school. At this point, being in college, I feel that one should be independent in their living, and not be required to fulfill a sort of ‘healthy living’ requirement.”

This sentiment of being treated as a high school student has been echoed from other students.

Jasper Soloff (’17), a student who regularly works out and is passionate about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, disagrees with the PE requirement. He said, “I believe that at this age we should be aware of the health benefits that working out and staying active have on our bodies and our mental states. I think it is a foolish decision on the school’s part to try to force students, who are adults—18 and older— to work out. We should be doing this anyway and if we are not doing it, it falls upon us and it shouldn't fall upon our transcripts and grades.” 

Sarah Lawrence is not alone in its requirement of PE credits. Maile affirms that it is present in some form at other college institutions, including: Bryn Mawr College, Wellesley College, Columbia University and Cornell University.

Not all students have a negative view of the requisite. Some find the PE requirement beneficial, providing incentive and impetus to be more active in a structured way.

Lily Paradise (’19) said, “I've only taken one of my gym credits so far. It was a zumba class and I really enjoyed it. It doesn't take too much time out of my day and I always have a lot of fun when I'm there. It actually really helps me relieve stress just by being active for an hour and I find I feel a lot better afterwards.”

Whether the PE requirement will be enforced through transcripts by the end of this academic year is still unknown. Even so, the PE administration hopes that the student body will value physical education as part of their interdisciplinary academics. 

Andrea Cantor ‘17

 

 

Comment

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Sarah Lawrence Shows Gryphon Pride at Homecoming

 The annual homecoming game in Campbell Sports Center. Photo credit: Andrea Cantor

The annual homecoming game in Campbell Sports Center. Photo credit: Andrea Cantor

Green and white balloons and streamers as well as banners supporting the Sarah Lawrence Gryphons decorated the Campbell Sports Center gymnasium. The bleachers were filled with students waving pom poms, cheering on the Gryphon teams. The annual homecoming game, which took place on December 2, provided a rare rah rah spirit on Sarah Lawrence’s campus.
 
This year the women and men’s basketball teams were the featured games for homecoming and both were up against Pratt Institute. The Sarah Lawrence women’s team played first and lost 30 to 89, but the defeat did not hamper the high energy of the crowd.
 
Taryn Penna (’19), a player on the women’s team, said,  “We were really excited coming into it. It was our first time playing as a team. We had two scrimmages last year. We actually did play Pratt last year so we remember a few of the returning players, but I think they have a few new players this year.”
 
The women’s basketball team is still only a club sport, but will be DIII next year.
 
When commenting on the crowd, Penna said, “It was nice to have people there for us when we did do something well and have the crowd cheer. It would just give us that momentum and happiness and even though we didn't come out on top it felt good that people here were cheering us on.”
 
The men’s basketball team followed the women. At the end of the first half, the game was a tight 44 to 36 with Sarah Lawrence Gryphons winning by 8 points. During the second half, the Gryphons widened the gap and triumphed 100 to 71.
 
Malin Segal, one of the star shooters of the night, said, “We played well. We came out flat, but we had more energy in the second half and that’s why we won.”
 
During the men’s basketball halftime, the Sarah Lawrence dance team came out and performed to Beyoncé’s “Formation.” The lively dance was finished with a political statement against police brutality. Sirens were sounded and the dancers held up their hands, some turning away from the crowd and a few remaining face forward.
 
 Anjette Rostock (’17), the co-captain of the team, explained, “I intended to do ‘Formation’ before Trump being elected. I really enjoy the song and the message of female empowerment. But after the election happened I talked to my team. ‘Formation’ is a black empowerment song and we should do what it intends.”
 
Outside of the gymnasium there was a pop-up bookstore shop and a tag sale with vintage sports jerseys and attire. The proceeds of the tag sale were given to the Student Athletics Advisory Committee (SAAC).
 
Kamaron McNair (’18), vice-chair of student senate and president of SAAC, explained SAAC’s function. “We organize events at the sports center. We do some work with homecoming. We do Midnight Madness and we do a lot of charity work. This year we are working with an organization [AFYA] that sends medical supplies and aid to undeveloped countries.”
 
SAAC and Students for Students Scholarship Fund (SSSF) work together to put on homecoming. SAAC does the decorations and tag sale and SSSF runs the concession stand and raffle. The proceeds of the concession stand and raffle go to student scholarships. Although assistant director of student involvement and leadership, Valerie Romanello, explained that homecoming typically raises around $300, promoting SSSFs presence on campus is their main goal.
 
Senate Chair Leonardo Rocchiccioli (’18) explained the importance of homecoming for student senate. “I think what’s really nice about homecoming is that it lets students interface and interact with senate in a different way. We haven’t had enough events like this in the past and we will hopefully have more of these types of events in the spring,” he said.
 
From the athletics to the activities, homecoming appeared to be a successful event with an impressive turnout from students, faculty and alumni.
 
Jenny Eskin (’86), who studied ballet as a Sarah Lawrence student and currently is a history and philosophy teacher, came to celebrate homecoming. “I come back to Sarah Lawrence often. I haven’t come back for homecoming. I didn't know we even had a homecoming until now. But I got an email inviting me and I am delighted to be here,” said the former alumni association member.
 
This is also Evan Stern’s (’03) first homecoming game. “It’s wonderful to reconnect with Sarah Lawrence and take a trip down memory lane. It’s nice to come home again for the homecoming,” said the working actor. Stern mentions the changing atmosphere and demographics of Sarah Lawrence. “Back then the thought of having a big sign saying Gryphons, people would have laughed at it so it’s fun to see the sports teams growing.”
 
President Karen Lawrence was in attendance and praised the event. “This is an event that I try to come to every year. I missed it last year, which I was disappointed about, but it is so great to see people coming and cheering the teams. This is the first time I have seen the women’s team play and it’s great,” she said in the alumni reception area. “It’s gotten better and better every year. More alumni and students come and there’s nothing better then to see a full gym, to see Campbell Sports Center full of cheering fans and players.”
 
From the crowds in the stands to the athletes on the court, homecoming was a slam-dunk.

Andrea Cantor '17

Comment

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Bystander Intervention Training Now Offered for PE Credit

 A bystander Intervention Logo. courtesy of princeton University  health services.

A bystander Intervention Logo. courtesy of princeton University  health services.

The bystander. We’ve all been one. For better or for worse, it gives us a chance to make all the difference. To act in apathy, like in the case of the infamous murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964 — which prompted research on the “bystander effect”— or to act with a sense of responsibility like in the Stanford rape case last year, where two bystanders intervened. 

The six-week long Bystander Intervention Training course offered for Physical Education credit at Sarah Lawrence College in collaboration with Westchester Victims Assistance, gives students the tools to learn how to step up and be an active bystander by interrupting potentially violent behaviors.

The course covers both theory and practice — from understanding issues related to interpersonal violence such as types of abuse and respect, challenging mainstream messages about gender, sex and violence, to empowering students with actionable and concrete ways to affect change in their respective communities.

 “I want people to feel empowered that they can make a difference in every type of situation, and that it doesn’t have to be them that is the direct bystander, but that they can tell someone who will be able to intervene, tell a friend, to stand up or do something — because it’s really sad when you see how many things could’ve been prevented, but people were too scared to put themselves in that kind of a situation,” said Ariana Cember, College Campus Sexual Assault Prevention Educator from WestCop Inc./ Victims Assistance Services. 

Cember lists “education, calling out things when you see them, not being afraid to say what’s on your mind — as long as you’re keeping yourself safe”, and “being open to changing the system that we’re all part of” as some of the ways we can combat rape culture. 

Giving examples of things to call out, Cember continued, “we’re going to discuss this in my class — usually with any type of violence it isn’t just physical, it’s those sexist jokes that you hear, or you might have made in the past, homophobic things that you hear — that’s a form of violence. I think that people need to be more cognizant that those actions really do hurt, and they also enable larger types of violence. It’s hard because in this type of culture, people want to diminish things that don’t agree with what society says is okay.”

Citing the Stanford rape case as an example for the importance of education, she said, “banning hard alcohol [at Stanford] isn’t going to do anything, because rape and sexual assault is about power and control.”

“I think college is a good time to be aware and active, and people do have time to commit to causes they’re really interested in,” however, “breaking down all the things that we’ve learned from society like gender roles, honestly, the time to start would have been pre-school, or elementary school,” said Cember.

“How critical it would have been to have this [Bystander Intervention Training course] — even a small dose of education, attacking the ways in which we’ve been raised, critiquing why it’s harmful and what that leads us to do. I think it’s good that this is here, and I hope that more people will take advantage of it,” added Cember.

Emma Heisler-Murray, founder of the Sarah Lawrence It’s On Us campus chapter, said, “I think it’s amazing that the school is having it — I think everyone can benefit from taking the class.”

Should the course be made mandatory for all students?

Cember said schools “need to revisit their priorities in educating their students”, and that “it would be nice if it were mandatory — especially if we’re trying to diminish the amount of sexual assault on college campuses, colleges have a right to ensure that their students are safe by educating their students.”

Heisler-Murray concurred, “I think it would be amazing and super beneficial and to the community if it was made mandatory for all students. However, I also think consent workshops should be mandatory for all students too on an annual basis. I also feel that students as well as faculty and staff should take a workshop on how to appropriately respond to survivors and how to create a safe space,” said Heisler-Murray.

Whether the Bystander Intervention program becomes mandatory remains to be seen — but when asked what she hopes students’ takeaway from the course, Cember told The Sarah Lawrence Phoenix that she hopes “that they share what they’ve learnt in the class, and [that they] discuss that with as many people as they can. To share the message that there’s always something you can do. Bystanders can be very powerful, and not to overlook any type of bystander.”

“Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another,” wrote the Stanford rape victim in her moving letter to her attacker, highlighting the power of bystanders.

With the help of educational programs like this, hopefully students can realize their power, look out for one another, and maybe even, be a hero in someone’s story.

Shane Tan '20

Comment

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Goddamn Hippies! The History of Football at Sarah Lawrence College

 Sampson bowl circa 1986. Courtesy of Sarah lawrence archives. 

Sampson bowl circa 1986. Courtesy of Sarah lawrence archives. 

It’s no surprise to anyone that there isn’t an active football team at Sarah Lawrence. There never really was a real football team, but there was flag football that began in the year 1969 with an 18-6 loss against Vassar College. The team consisted of roughly six men. Certainly no Giants, the SLC “Green Machine” (as it became known) was less competitive than it was entertaining. The only real rivalry was with Vassar College -- another predominantly female school.

“We’re number one! Go Vassar!” shouted the Vassar cheerleaders after the “Big Pink” (Vassar’s team) took home the victory in 1969. That was, disappointingly, touch football. The surprising thing is that both SLC and Vassar actually had cheerleaders. It’s not that cheerleaders really make a difference for a six-man team, but the entertainment factor for the over 300 spectators present at the 1970 flag-football match with Vassar, I can only assume, was much higher. Flag-football, at least, has the potential to get aggressive, whereas two-hand touch will leave all players without concussions.

That year, 1970, Bronxville, New York –– the Green Machine got its revenge on the Big Pink. The match clearly was a failure defensively for both sides, the ending score being 59 - 52, but that didn’t stop the Green Machine from suffering a humbling loss against Iona College’s second string varsity team later that year.

 Students playing football, undated. courtesy of sarah lawrence college archives. 

Students playing football, undated. courtesy of sarah lawrence college archives. 

The Vassar Big Pink won again in 1971. “That was not due to their expert playing, but to the fact that those beastly Vassar players didn’t have any manners at all, and the SLC boys were too polite to break the rules of fair play,” says, Annie Roddick.  “Those Goddamn Hippies,” she might have added. That particular game was clearly a highlight for fans. It was covered in the November 1971 issue of Sports Illustrated; the article was called “The Best of the Powder Puffs.” Almost flattering, it inspired a nine-year dry spell from 1972 to 1981 when the team was inactive.

Back again, 1981, SLC boys beat Vassar in an all-out defeat of 7-0. The girls took home the real trophy, having started a more competitive football team than the boys, by beating Vassar College 19-0 and winning again in 1982 against the same team.

The last game was played by the Green Machine against Vassar on November 6, 1982. Vassar won, which, one might assume, might inspire the revival of the team if for nothing else than common decency. That, however, is yet to be seen. Look no further than 2017 for the “Goddamn Hippies” to perform a full-blown massacre of the Vassar College football team in a riveting game with an ultimate score of 33-0, and 12, well-deserved, concussions.

Thomas Nicklin ‘19

Comment

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Bronxville School Varsity Soccer Versus SLC Gryphons

 Campbell Sports center. Photo credit: andrea cantor '17

Campbell Sports center. Photo credit: andrea cantor '17

Bronxville is seen as the antithesis of Sarah Lawrencefor every one of their high school varsity lacrosse players, we are proud to offer up an experimental poet. The affluent suburb nestled in Westchester County, often referenced in pop culture (Mad Men, How I Met Your Mother, Friends) as the prime spot for Madison Ave. executives to drop off their housewives or raise a family not too far from the city. Former residents include Sothebys CEO Tad Smith, DoD spokesman Kenneth Bacon, beloved novelist Washington Irving and many members of the Kennedy clan, most notably President John F. Kennedy. The hamlet tightened their strand of anti-semitism in the late 1950s, actively discouraging Jewish residents and according to the 2000 census, the average family income was $200,000. An income that made Bronxville one of the most opulent areas in the country.

As the demographics of Bronxville change, the villages proximity to Sarah Lawrence offers us a unique comparison of conventional versus unconventional, of traditional versus alternative, Bronxville versus Sarah Lawrence. Student athletes on campus often complain about the lack of school spirit or turnout at matches. Right wing midfielder Walker Aaron May19 suggests that the core of the issue lies with the athletic program being in the developmental stages. People underestimate what we can do and what our athletic teams are capable of.”

The Bronxville Schools Varsity Boys Soccer assistant coach Ricky Stephens spoke extensively of the K-12 schools sense of history and community, of friends and teammates growing up together and of parents catching early Metro-North trains from work to support the Broncos.

The Sarah Lawrence and the Bronxville School boys soccer teams both played home games on the eleventh this month, both defeating their counterparts. The Gryphons: 1-0 against the Culinary Institute. The Broncos: 3-0 against the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester. Usually garnering anywhere from 200-400 students in the bleachers on any given weekday, the Broncosstands were busier that Sunday afternoon than any athletic event at SLC any day, with some undergrads in the high school bleachers as well. Familiar scenes played outparents laced their fingers through the wire fences, students held posters for their friends and both sides clapped as a Schechter defense player took a hit and limped off the field.

While Jorge Luis Borges argued that soccer is popular because stupidity is popular, due to its problematic ties to nationalism, blind mass following and propaganda that helped elevate fascist political regimes, many Sarah Lawrence students link athletic initiatives threaten the school’s character. With the addition of a womens basketball team and the womens soccer teams upgrade to Division III, many upperclassmen view the new emphasis on athletics as part of the administrations hidden agenda to normalizethe school. Can our alternative approach to academics and university life be conducive to athletics and school spirit akin to other schools? Kenyon College, a fellow liberal arts school located in Gambier, Ohio, deals with similar problems. As Kenyon sophomore Oscar Dow19 put it, More people are on the football team than have ever attended their games.” Sarah Lawrences midfielder argues that time is the answer. May’19 says that “in the coming years, our morale will be boosted greatlydue to the progress made by joining the NCAA and taking measures to recruit new student athletes.”

The Bronxville School and Sarah Lawrence College have shared the same zip code since they were established but few attempts have been made to bridge the clear divide. Stephens, a former soccer player and alum of the high school remarked, the sheer proximity of the two schools makes it quite practical that a closer connection be forged.” “Speaking as a former BHS student,” Stephens believes it could be rewarding for both sides given that there definitely seem to be differences in terms of cultural/social interests.” With the stereotypical image of our liberal arts college in his mind, he was unaware of the very existence of any sports teams at Sarah Lawrence but upon being informed, Stephens suggested a scrimmage between the two teams, which might, not only, bring our two respective communities together but our collective student body together as well. The ball is now in our court.

Vanilla Kalai Anandam ’19

Comment

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

The High Costs of Being an Equestrian

  Sarah Lawrence equestrian team member Rachel Lit.   Photo courtesy of Go Gryphons

Sarah Lawrence equestrian team member Rachel Lit. Photo courtesy of Go Gryphons

A traditional Friday morning for a Sarah Lawrence equestrian team member is waking up to a 7:10 AM alarm, shutting it off before waking up your roommate, rolling out of bed, putting on tan breeches and knee-high leather boots, and rushing over to Andrews parking lot to get on the van that leaves at 7:34. By 8:05, all the team members have mounted their horses and start their hour-long practice. The van returns to SLC by 9:20 and then the members can start the rest of their day. Equestrian is a commitment, but the students who participate, love the sport. But the sport faces other problems besides early morning Fridays for practice and weekends for competition. 

The sport has a lack of recognition from the administration and student body. Many people don’t even know that equestrian exists on this campus, even though we are the oldest sports team at the school. In fact, we are the founding team of the athletics department. The nominal attention equestrian receives pales in comparison to other sport teams.  Over the past two years, equestrian team members have been chosen only seven times out of the 153 student athlete of the week recognitions, as opposed to men’s basketball which has been chosen 18 times, and swim that has been noted 30 times. However, the equestrian team garners more outside reputation, in regards to awards, than any other SLC team. This year alone, the team has won 54 ribbons and had one qualifier for regionals.

This year’s success is not unique for the team.  Historically, SLC equestrian has done extremely well. In 2011, the team beat the three-year undefeated national champions, Centenary College. The SLC sports page reported at that time, “Gryphons beat out reigning national-champion Centenary College at an IHSA All-Region Show. The feat marked the Cyclones’ only regular-season defeat in a three-year period.” In addition, riders have competed at the national level, including Miranda Scott ‘92 and Liz Stitzel ‘09. Team coach, Lori Rakoczy, has been the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) Zone 3 Region 3 Coach of the Year twice in the past fifteen years.

Why, then, is equestrian an underrated sport? This may have to due with the fact that equestrian is not a part of NCAA Division III. Instead, it belongs to IHSA, which is a separate division only for equestrian competition at the collegiate lev

While NCAA is well known, the prestigious IHSA, founded in 1967, is relatively unheard of on this campus. This divisional separation comes off as exclusionary, and it is not the only area where equestrian is perceived as such. 

In general, equestrian is stereotyped as an upper-class sport. This assumption is due to the sport’s costliness, both recreationally and competitively. The same is true on the college level. Although equestrian may have more awards than other SLC sports, it also has more out-of-pocket costs. An average annual amount for a SLC student to participate in equestrian totals a whopping $1435. This number comprises lessons and equipment. Lessons, which are at an off-campus location, estimate $935. Although, students may share shirts and helmets, they need to procure their own boots and pants for weekly practices. The school does not stipend or subsidize these costs, but does pay for the show fees.

This is a daunting price tag for most students and is a deterrent for recruiting new members to join. But, it is also a hardship on those who are already on the team. Throughout the years, several, teammates have had to quit the year-round sport in the second semester due to the financial burden. The financial commitment thus creates an economic disparity of those who are and those who are not in a position to be on the team. 

In the past, the equestrian team has pursued fundraising events, such as Valentine’s Day roses and candy grams. This year, the team sold candy boo-grams for Halloween, but did not raise enough money to cover one full lesson for each member of the team. It is an unfortunate reality, where although equestrian is an established high cost sport, it has translated as exclusionary and discriminatory to lower-income students on SLC’s campus. Our school preaches the ideals of inclusion, but this has to be extended to financials in the sport’s department as well.

Rachel Lit '19 and Andrea Cantor '17

Softball Team Returns from Myrtle Beach Tournament

  Sarah Lawrecne Softball Captain Kamaron McNair.   Photo courtesy of Go Gryphons

Sarah Lawrecne Softball Captain Kamaron McNair. Photo courtesy of Go Gryphons

During the first week of spring break, the Sarah Lawrence softball team packed their bats, softballs, and mitts, and headed off to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. This is the second year the team has participated in Myrtle Beach’s intercollegiate softball tournament. Last year, the Gryphons had a disappointing series, going 0-8 in the Snowbird Tournament, but this year they returned to the beach eager to kickoff their season in the Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic. Last year was particularly difficult because the preseason Bronxville weather was not conducive for team practices. However, this year, February’s weather was hospitable, allowing the team to hold practices on their home field so that they could warm up as a team and play on some dirt before heading south. 

The team flew down on early Saturday morning on March 12th, and after getting off the plane, had a late night practice to loosen up their muscles and get ready to play on Sunday. On Sunday afternoon, the Gryphons faced two of the toughest opponents of the tournament. The season opener against Eureka College proved quite the challenge for the Gryphons. The bats remained silent for most of the game with only one hit by Mikayla Cunningham ‘19 in the final inning before Eureka put SLC away 11-0. 

The Gryphons made small improvements for game   two, but not quite enough to compete with Albright College. Scoring three runs was no match for Albright’s 14. The Gryphons took the two losses as a starting off point and looked forward to improving throughout the week. 

Sarah Lawrence returned to the ballpark on Monday ready for action. They started early and brought the right energy to take down Bay Path University in the first game of the day. Riley Vuyovich ‘18 topped the SLC record for career hits with her 40th during the game, helping the team defeat Bay Path 10-2 in SLC’s first victory south of the mid-Atlantic. 

In the second game of the day, the Gryphons continued to play hard, but fell short to Albertus Magnus College. In a close game, Albertus Magnus came out on top, 3-1. 

Tuesday brought two more tough games for SarahLawrence. The first game of the day against Rutgers-Camden tested the Gryphons’ ability to hold their own on the ball field. The first three innings looked great for SLC, holding the Scarlet Raptors defensively, and the Gryphons earning a run. However, the Gryphons unraveled in the second half of the game and fell to Rutgers 11-3. 

Afterwards, SLC faced Eureka College in a rematch. The Gryphons learned from mistakes in their first game, and were able to prove their talent more in this match. But the Red Devils refused to let up, and took down the Gryphons 1-5. 

Wednesday, the Gryphons faced Albright College again. The Gryphons were unable to connect hits where they needed to, and fell to Albright 12-0 in five innings. Albright went on to only lose two of the 11 games in Myrtle Beach. 

In SLC’s final game of the trip, they took on Southern Vermont College, a competitor they fell to last season. The Gryphon bats came alive, and the team was able to defeat SVC 10-3 to close out the week. 

The trip served its purpose of giving the team time to come together and play in game situations before facing conference competition. As a young team, the Gryphons needed the games to learn how to really play as a team. While they worked hard in practices in the fall and throughout February, the ladies on the team could really see each other’s strengths and weaknesses when facing different teams in Myrtle Beach. 

In addition to learning on the field, the Gryphons  had time off in the evenings that they spent bonding and getting to know each other better. With four first-year and six sophomore players, the team’s majority of underclassmen put them at what some might see as a disadvantage to the other more matured teams. However, the Gryphons view their team’s relative infancy as an opportunity to learn and grow together.

The Gryphons came back to New York ready to continue working hard and getting better every day. The improvements from last year were evident from day one, and the team will continue to improve as the season goes on and as the program grows. 

Kamaron McNair '18

Comment

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Respect for All, Recruited or Not

 "Whether they admit it or not, students want to be excited about something here." - Quiana Jones  Photo Collage by Paul Blascovich

"Whether they admit it or not, students want to be excited about something here." - Quiana Jones  Photo Collage by Paul Blascovich

In recent years, Sarah Lawrence College has placed a greater emphasis on athletics by recruiting high school players for their sports teams. Opinions on this change vary from student to student. Some students enjoy the slight kindling of a fire that may one day create a sense of school spirit while others feel this is a backlash on Sarah Lawrence ideals and a misuse of money. I was able to interview a student who has a unique perspective on the topic.

Quiana Jones (‘16) and right fielder on the softball team, did not come to Sarah Lawrence for sports. Instead she came for the science program with an interest in forensics. Her love for science evolved when she shadowed a pathologist and decided she wanted to pursue a career in medicine. Quiana became friends with players on the team during her sophomore year and increased her communal involvement by joining SLAC. She became curious and interested in softball, seeing it as a means of exercise and joined the team her first semester of junior year. Before she got involved in softball, Quiana saw a lot of similarities between recruits and science students. 

‘People often say ‘What are you doing at SLC studying science?’ The general viewpoint is the same on athletes. The vibe with science students and recruits are very similar.”

Recruiting has become big in multiple sports and there has unfortunately been a negative opinion on this presence. Quiana recalls the nervousness of many students, which was probably attributed to the rise of males on campus. 

Their presence on campus has improved and Quiana, understanding the feelings of both the student and the athlete, has suggestions on how they can become even more accepted here at SLC.

“Whether they admit it or not, students want to be excited for something here. If we could all rally together and be excited for, lets say a basketball game, that’s unimaginable at SLC excluding the homecoming game. If we could change the culture here, I think there will be a more community-oriented school with spirit that is definitely lacking. People often hate comparing SLC to other schools but I don’t necessarily think school spirit through athletics is a bad aspect of other colleges. We pride ourselves on being individuals, but we are so individualized that we don’t come together.”

There are many positives from athletic recruitment. First, it diversifies the population at SLC, which is a place that prides itself on being a unique safe space where anyone can belong. Athletics will improve and in the coming years teams will continue improving which will result in more money that could be pushed to other areas needing improvement at SLC. Hopefully, as continuing athletic talent enrolls at SLC, sports teams become more successful and inspire more school spirit. 

The one unfortunate thing about recruitment is where it leaves student athletes who were not recruited to SLC for sports. Quiana appreciates the commitment required in being an athlete that is often overlooked and seen as glamorous.

“Softball is something I love doing. I dedicated an entire semester to it and I think I’m okay at it. Looking at the team last year, I didn’t realize how much work being on the softball team would be. I didn’t realize how much energy and time it soaks up from you to be apart of a team. As teams eventually become all recruited athletes, I think it will be harder for non-recruits to participate. But softball is something I love doing. I would consider having a team that is intramural where anyone, male or female, can go play and have fun. Passionate students who are not recruits, I believe, will start forming small teams and clubs.”

Athletes make a strong effort on being a part of the SLC community. They frequent open mics, talks on identity, and school performances like midnight cabaret and the weekly improv night. Joining campus clubs can also help them form bonds with other students.

“I think the organizations that exist in SLAC are phenomenal and there are so many of them people don’t even know about. Getting involved in these organizations are places where athletes can interact with the community at large. It can help form friendships and bonds, which can create more enthusiasm for sports within the community. It’s very hard to get students excited about sports. Students will start supporting their friends and it will grow from there.”

Athletes, both recruits and non-recruits, are primarily students and should be seen in that respect. They have to do the same amount of work as everyone else while managing their time between practices and games. They deserve to be seen as true SLC students because that is exactly who they are.

by Matthew Zaretsky ‘17

Comment

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.