The Colgate Scene
September 2006


[Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

Raider notebook
An arena to excel
Although history may have witnessed many unusual names in sports, rarely will you see a matchup such as the Diabeatings against Staff Infection or Cobra Chi battling the Yo Mets. But scenes such as this are the norm at Colgate, where the recreational sports program is vibrant, participation is high, and intramural team name selection has been elevated to a sport of its own. In addition to being one of the smallest schools in the country to field a Division I program, Colgate athletic tradition manifests itself among many members of the student body through participation in intramural and club sports.

"There is a culture of being active and healthy here," said Janet Little, head of the recreational sports department. "Intramurals in particular bring a sense of community to campus -- they provide an opportunity for different residence halls and groups to bond together through competition and sports." Last year more than 40 percent of the student body participated in recreational sports.

Little, along with her predecessor Don Palmateer and longtime administrative assistant Roxanne Benson, has been the driving force behind revitalizing these activities, adding several new programs over time in response to student requests. Intramural sports offerings range from the standard fare of basketball and flag football to more exotic activities such as trapshooting and dodgeball, a recent addition.

Students find many lessons to be learned from a year of playing intramurals. For instance, because there is no coach, peers find themselves allocating playing time for other peers. "There really has to be a level of respect there," said Little. "It's not based on title or hierarchy; it's just respect for a person and their time and commitment to the group."

This is also true of the students who are entrusted with organizing and leading the club teams -- "probably one of the best leadership opportunities that can be found at Colgate," Little said. "They have a number of administrative details to attend to, and we've been very proud of how everyone has handled those responsibilities." In addition to mainstream sports such as hockey or running, the club sports program offers unusual alternatives such as juggling, cricket, equestrian, and a variety of martial arts.

When forming a new club sport, students are held to a high standard of responsibility; they will only receive a budget after having been in existence for a year. This waiting period helps ensure that there is both a solid organizational structure in place and sufficient interest to support the group over time.

Another important component of the active Colgate lifestyle is the physical education requirement, which Little claims has deep roots, at least back to the 1940s and possibly earlier.

"When it was a men's school, everyone came to Whitnall Field and were given sports competency tests," she said. "If the students passed, they didn't have to do anything more, but if they failed they would have to take a class in that sport. There was value placed on men being able to participate athletically. We've retained that spirit, while enhancing the program with more of a holistic wellness approach over the years."

Although winning an IM football game may not seem momentous at the time, many of the qualities in play, such as competition, cooperation, and responsibility have important applications not only in the classroom, but also in the workplace. For an institution that prides itself on producing well-rounded graduates, Colgate is providing much more than just games: it's another arena for Raiders

to excel.

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