On April 19, 2013, spacecraft found a brand new planet. It is consistently being referred to as the most Earth-like alien planet discovered to date (“new” planet meaning “new to us” in the wise words of the Little Rascals). Siri for iPhone 5 is new.” Jurassic Park 3-D” is new. This “new” planet’s age exceeds the population’s general comprehension of the meaning of time itself.
On April 19, 2013, over here in our slice of space, Boston is on lockdown. A serious event affecting people across the nation is at its climax. As I write this, history and people’s lives are being drastically re-written.
On April 19, 2013, the students of Christopher Newport University are about to be launched into finals week. It’s always during the last stretch of the semester that my ambition begins to lag, which is rather inconvenient considering this is possibly when I need it most. This year I have five exams, each worth about 25 percent of my grade in the class. I’m also in the midst of working out summer job details, moving in to an apartment and dealing with the drama that comes with being a member of society – something I do not recommend.
This being my fourth go at finals, I’ve learned a few methods to aid the studying process. Sometimes I’ll sit down and spend a solid hour accomplishing nothing. I’ve learned to accept when I’m in such a restless state, sitting another hour is not going to be conducive, so I’ll get up, wash dishes, work out and shower, then come back to my work feeling revived and ready to start afresh. I also set incentives for myself, usually involving food. Today, when I realized I was looking out the window twice as often as I was looking at my computer screen, I decided I could afford a bike ride once half of my paper was complete. Not only did this give me an immediate goal to work toward (because, you know, good grades and success are overrated), but it would also allow me to return to the paper content and renewed.
With so much happening in the world and school I call home, the method that’s helped focus on my studies most is one I plagiarized from Nike: Just Do It. Incentives and strategies can be great, but sometimes, you just have to put on a Mulan “Let’s Get Down to Business” face and proceed to plow forward. So what if you get a little less beauty sleep and lose pieces of sanity you’ll never quite retrieve? Why let finals drive you crazy when you can walk there yourself? It’s only for a week. This too shall pass. Soon the memories of all-nighters in the library will be drowned away in the midst of crickets chirping and other stereotypical romantic summer night sounds. Embrace the craziness; aliens from the “new” planet could arrive any day now, making your finals week your final week.
Last semester, my boyfriend and I were beyond psyched to attend our first Christopher Newport football game! The entire day was geared for the evening when I would walk through the gates and root on my new school. I had been ready since I moved in to cheer for my new school and hopefully feel all the school spirit that comes along with the games.
The day flew by and before I realized it, my boyfriend and I left campus to get dinner before the game. Through the typical series of events that happens when you have somewhere to be, traffic was horrible, there was a wait at the restaurant, our waiter took forever to bring the bill and we ended up being 40 minutes late to the game. I was so stressed and angry about missing the first half of my very first CNU game that I was on my way into POMOCO stadium scowling and complaining about not having time to change into my new CNU T-shirt I had gotten to show my school pride. I was so upset, I was nearly crying from ridiculous frustration.
We got into the stadium and found some seats. I was able to see one of my best friends in the crowd and the cheer squad encouraging our team. I ran into a million of my new friends, and managed to calm down. I realized that I had been so caught up with making sure everything went perfectly, I hadn’t embraced the perfect chaos of reality. The silliness of my friends with their body paint, the screaming crowds that had annoyed me at first but were there supporting their team, now my team. Standing looking around the crowds and recognizing the faces of friends I had made, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of acceptance, a feeling of being home. As our team made touchdowns and advances I found myself screaming along with the rest of the fans without thinking. My boyfriend looked over at me proudly, smiling, and said, “look at you go, ya’ Captain.” Ahh that perfect moment when you realize you fit.
A few weeks ago I watched as Louisville and Michigan collided in one of the biggest events in collegiate athletics – the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship (that’s a mouthful). It was an epic competition that pitted the two best teams in the country against one another after weeks of March Madness battle. Countless storylines intersected as the anticipated conclusion unfolded. Tens of thousands of fans packed the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, an NFL football stadium outfitted for a basketball game. It was nothing short of incredible, and this scene tends to be the kind of thing that comes to mind for most people when they think about college sports.
At CNU, things are a little different. We don’t draw tens of thousands to our sporting events … of course, we only have 5,000 students enrolled to begin with. You won’t often see any Captains athletes making a big play on SportsCenter. But don’t get me wrong, our university takes its athletics very seriously. Excellence and work ethic are not demonstrated by media attention. So when I was learning about CNU and being recruited to play lacrosse here during my college search, I was excited to hear about the legacy of athletic dominance that our school boasts. Championships abound throughout the short history of our university, and it seems that each year our teams are taking steps forward and becoming better and better. Some of our teams, like the volleyball squad, are feared around the nation as top competitors in their respective sport.
Not exactly what you’d expect from a Division III school, huh?
Distinctions between the NCAA divisions (I, II and III) are generally based on the size and budget decisions of the university. So it’s no surprise that some of the biggest universities in the country, like Michigan, are also some of the most well-known for their sports. Since CNU does not offer athletic scholarships, our athletics fall under the Division III distinction. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t fiercely competitive. In fact, the sport I came here to play, lacrosse, is known for having a crowded and highly contested Division III bracket. In comparison, Division II lacrosse only has a fraction of the teams Division III does, and they are typically much less competitive.
When it comes down to it, no one is under any delusion that our football team might challenge Alabama for the national championship. But I can tell you that one of the most intense and exciting football games I’ve ever seen (in person or on TV) was a three-overtime CNU victory over Salisbury University in our own POMOCO Stadium. My point is, though we may be a little bit smaller, the sports at CNU are something to see. And you won’t want to miss out when the Blue and Silver suit up against a conference rival.
Fall at CNU is arguably one of the most fun times of the year, because it marks the beginning of football season and tailgating before games. While my knowledge of the true ins and outs of football is slim, going to the games is still a fun time. Last year President Trible started our newest CNU tradition of hosting night football games. This is such a great addition to CNU because cheering on our Captains is so much more fun once the hot September sun sets. These games are a great way to welcome everyone back to campus in the fall. They unite the student body together and engage them in our school’s athletic events.
My favorite part about football games is the tailgating before the kickoff. Fraternities, sororities, alumni and parents grill out at their parking spaces and people wander the tailgate zone having a great time. Mingling at the tailgates also allows for anyone in attendance to see our classmates decked out in their best CNU blue attire. In recent years tailgating and games have become more of a dressy affair where girls don their best royal blue sundresses or skirts and boys might choose to wear the CNU bowtie or other game day attire. That doesn’t mean that students forgo the classic body painting, and the CNU Blue Crew does this justice. Their tailgate spot becomes spattered with blue and white paint as they cover their bodies and prepare to stand in the front row of the student section to lead cheers for the student and fans in the stands.
What I love about tailgating and football season is that, as an undergraduate student, I have seen these football games and tailgates become a new and well-loved tradition at our school. Our homecoming weekend is the highlight of the season when hundreds of alumni descend on campus to see how much it has grown and changed. Participating in this yearly tradition is something I look forward to attending when I come back as a CNU alumna this fall. While I may not know everything about the sport, or have the ability or desire to watch an entire game, I enjoy the fellowship and community that our football games and tailgates offer to our campus.
I don’t get as much free time as I would like at CNU, but on the occasions when I am free on a Friday afternoon, I love joining a pick-up game of Ultimate Frisbee with the CNU Frisbee team. There’s nothing like running across a field on a warm afternoon at the end of a long week, jumping as high as you can in the air to intercept a pass intended for your end zone.
As I’ve said before, some of the guys on the CNU Frisbee team are among the most athletically versatile people I’ve encountered. They can run fast, jump high and many of them can throw a Frisbee as naturally as breathing. While I don’t claim to be of their caliber, the best thing about Ultimate Frisbee is that anyone can have a shot at glory if they are in the right place at the right time. All it takes is one great catch and you can look like a hero.
The best part of the CNU Frisbee team being a club team is that all of the players are there because they love it. There are no scholarships on the line, there are no chances to advance to some kind of pro league (unfortunately, there are no professional Ultimate Frisbee teams I know of), everyone there is passionate about the game, and that makes playing even more fun.
One of my fondest CNU Ultimate Frisbee memories was from a Friday this January. The day had warmed up to nearly 60 degrees, so Facebook had blown up about the first Frisbee pick-up games of the new year. So many people showed up we had enough players for two games at once. We found the ground was wet from rain the day before and as we got started the skies became more gray and the temperature dropped.
My friend Ian and I found that our shoes were largely ineffective on the wet grass so we ended up going barefoot. The CNU Frisbee team generally plays shirts versus skins so, naturally, he and I were unlucky and were selected for the shirtless team. I remember lining up across the field from our opponents, a cold wind blowing across our bare backs. We could see our breath as our team launched the Frisbee toward the other team to start the game and we charged across the field like the Scots out of “Braveheart.”