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.