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Soccer, basketball, and cross country teams competed in the playoffs this year in conference league play, while some Hampshire students played for Five Colleges teams
Lara Leilani Matthias
There’s a joke that Hampshire’s nonexistent football team is undefeated since 1970. This year, three Hampshire sports teams weren’t joking as they competed in the playoffs in Yankee Small College Conference (YSCC), with the cross country teams traveling to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) Nationals.
Hampshire women’s soccer qualified for the first-round play-in game this year for the YSCC conference tournament, where they played Paul Smith’s College in Randolph Center, Vermont. Hampshire women’s basketball also qualified for the playoffs, and traveled to Maine for the regional tournament. The men’s and women’s cross-country team competed at the YSCC Championship in Lake Placid, New York, and went to Lakeland, Florida, to compete in Nationals.
Through the YSCC, Hampshire’s student-athletes compete in three sports—cross country, basketball, and soccer—against teams representing 15 small colleges from Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and Massachusetts. The YSCC, part of the USCAA, provides students with the chance to compete regionally and nationally.
Hampshire also supports clubs for fencing, Ultimate Frisbee, rock climbing, horseback riding, and kyudo iba (Japanese archery), and as part of the Five Colleges, Hampshire students are able to try out and play for any club sport—from rugby, to rowing, to ice skating—at the consortium schools.
Here are profiles of some of Hampshire’s athletes.
Aaron Lindeke-Myers and Charlie Driker-Ohren have been running cross country together during their Hampshire years, and they’re both graduating this month. For Driker-Ohren, one of the biggest benefits has been simply the opportunity to get outside, exercise, and get to know the area, because, he says, “I spend a lot of time reading, sitting in a chair in the library¬—I would go insane if I didn’t get exercise.” Lindeke-Myers agrees that cross country is a nice balance to academic work, and for him the community of the team was one of the highlights. “I met Charlie there,” he says. “I don’t think we would’ve become friends otherwise because we have very different academic circles.” This year, the men’s and women’s teams traveled to Florida to compete at Nationals. The team is young, with a lot of new runners, and Driker-Ohren says he believes it’s in a position to thrive and grow.
Sophie Spillman competed in single skating during high school and joined the synchronized skating team at UMass during her first year at Hampshire. The team focuses a lot on drilling skills, working on choreography, and practicing its program for two major competitions—Easterns and Nationals. The opportunity to participate in Five College club sports was one of the factors behind Spillman’s decision to attend Hampshire, and she says her participation on the team is “arguably one of the best things I’ve done. It’s nice to meet people who have a completely different perspective on everything, and to have connections outside Hampshire.”
Alex Emmanuel, also graduating this month, has been playing basketball since he came to Hampshire. He says his time on the team has been a tremendous growing experience. During his first year, hardly anyone showed up to support the team, and this year, for the last game, there were at least 200 spectators. He says basketball and other sports are “great for building community within the school.” This sense of community is also evident in the relationship between the men’s team and the women’s. Emmanuel says they’re “like one big group that just take turns playing.” This past season the women’s team made it to playoffs in Maine and some of the players on the men’s team drove up to support them. “It was cool to have that kind of community you can rely on and to have people you know have your back,” says Emmanuel. “That’s probably the greatest memory I have.”
Rainer Bathum Nathe is a Hampshire student who rows for the UMass Men’s Rowing Club. Rowing was a large part of Nathe’s life before college, and he wanted to continue to compete. When he arrived at Hampshire, a UMass rowing coach familiar with Nathe’s high school accomplishments asked him to join the team. As the first Hampshire student to row for UMass, Nathe says he was unsure how he would fit in, but says he was able to click easily with everybody. The team trains year-round, starts practices early—at 6 a.m.—and competes in the spring.
Connie Chang plays rugby at Mount Holyoke. She became interested in the sport when she heard about it from some friends on the team. Chang had never played rugby before, and says she “just thought it was football without gear, but it’s very different.” She enjoys the sport, and has found Mount Holyoke students to be supportive. And she really likes the social side too.
Dakari Urrutia has played on the College’s Ultimate Frisbee team for the past two years. The team had been relatively small, he says, but this year there were enough new players for them to have two teams at some of the tournaments. “We have such a good time,” he says. “You just have to play hard and have fun.” Chili nights and hosting home tournaments are common events, but the team trips to Montreal and South Carolina to compete in the fall and spring were some of the highlights, he says.
Chiara Forrester played soccer all four years at Hampshire and is now graduating. She describes her experience as “incredible,” and says the coaches and players were supportive on and off the field. Being on the team was integral to her Hampshire experience, she says, as she was able to make friends with a lot of upper-class students. The team members are very close; they have pasta dinners before games and sometimes team breakfasts as well. The team made it to the playoffs this season, and Forrester says that although she’s sad to be leaving, she’s excited to see where this season’s new players will take the team next year.