Whitman club sports foster community during the pandemic

Tucker Grinnan, Staff Reporter

Whitman club sports continue to create and maintain supportive communities despite major structural changes due to the pandemic.

Club sports at Whitman would typically be hosting regular practices on campus around this time. Participants would be learning the routine of practice and enjoying regular meetings with fellow club members. This semester, clubs cannot structure themselves around in-person interaction in the way they normally would.

Club sports in particular have been forced to radically shift the way in which they function. Alex Gerber, a junior club tennis captain, realizes that a large part of what attracts people to join a team like his is the in-person aspect.

“The club is very event based,” Gerber said. “You come to club tennis for a fun social gathering, where you can exercise and meet people.”

Illustration by Elie Flanagan.

However, he is not letting an inability to host weekly practices and social gatherings take away the joy of meeting new people that the club thrives on. He plans to host activity filled zoom parties for old members to see each other’s faces and to bring first-years into the fold.

“We’re more focusing on the community aspect,” he said. “I can see how a zoom party could be kind of awkward, if everyone is just sitting there not doing anything, but I think to give people something to actively do while they’re in the call is much more productive and fun.”

Ilse Spiropoulos, a sophomore captain of the martial arts club, is focused on making the most of the less than ideal situation.

“Students who start now are going to learn a lot of the basics and hopefully get really good at them, because we can’t progress too far beyond that. But once we get back in person, they should have really good groundwork laid.”

A huge part of what keeps people attached to club sports at Whitman is the community they provide. Sarah Bosworth, a senior captain of the women’s ultimate frisbee team, stresses how important it is to cultivate that sense of community.

“We are trying to create the sense that we’re not just a team, we are a family. The sense that we are going to be there for (each other) no matter what, pandemic or not,” Bosworth said. “I really hope this semester that we are able to continue creating those bonds of community, doing the things that make us the sweets. I want my teammates to know that I am going to be there for them in these hard times, just as in better times.”

She is not writing the semester off and wants the team to continue old traditions and start new ones despite the barriers that exist. She emphasizes that, given the current moment, the team cannot simply disconnect from what is happening on campus and around the world.

“On the Sweets we’ve always had a pretty big focus on equity conversations, equity in ultimate is something that we take seriously. The land we play on is colonized land,” Bosworth said. “So I’m hoping to take (those conversations) into a more virtual format and provide resources for whole team discussions.”

Despite the barriers created by online learning and social distancing, club sports continue to stay connected, adapt to the changing circumstances and build towards a brighter future.