Sports Culture & People

More fall 2010 entries on the English House Gazette, with three of them about sports.

Raffi Williams writes about the efforts of senior Mike Troup to build a fan culture at Haverford College with creation of something called the Squirrel Squad.

Sarah Fischer offers a profile of Bryn Mawr College’s energetic assistant athletic director, Laura Kemper.

Jonathan Yu, who covers medical issues, writes about the realities of sports injuries at  Division III schools such as Haverford.

Building A Fan Culture

Haverford College had apathetic fans until the Squirrel Squad came along

By Raffi Williams

When most people think of college sports, they picture large stadiums with raucous ans who refuse to sit for the entire game. They see students with their faces and chests painted screaming as if every extra decibel they reach is another point for their team. It’s loud, it’s emotional, and it’s the college experience.
Mike Troup, a senior at Haverford College, pictured this voracious scene, too. Sadly, fans like the ones of Troup’s dreams did not exist at his college, where the crowds at varsity games were sparse and the sounds muted. .
Troup, a former college lacrosse defensemen, decded to do something about it. In the fall of 2009, after two years of lamenting about the lack of fans at games, Troup started the Squirrel Squad; a Haverford College sports fan organization. The Squirrel Squad’s goal was to be a Division III version of Duke University’s Cameron Crazies, by “raising school spirit and fan participation in sports at Haverford,” says Mike Troup.
School spirit and fan participation were at dismal levels before the Squirrel Squad. Kiley Norton a Haverford College senior and lacrosse midfielder, fondly remembers his days in high school when what “seemed like the whole school was out to support the team.” He continues, “My sophomore year [at Haverford College] we hosted a game for the second round of the NCAA tournament and the opposing team had 3 times more fans in our stands than we did.”
It was not just the lacrosse team that noticed the lack of support. Lauren Kemph, a senior and former field hockey player, says, “Our bleachers used to be empty… only filled by parents.”
Senior athlete Max Hjelm says, “I used to get more excited to play away games since I knew more fans would be there.”
Even without fans, Haverford College sports teams were good. The 2008-2009 school year saw Haverford College win the Centennial Conference in volleyball, go to the NCAA tournament in men’s lacrosse and volleyball as well as qualify for the Centennial Conference playoffs in softball, baseball, men’s tennis and men’s lacrosse. “At Haverford College we had a lot of good sports, but not that many people went to the events,” says Troup.squirrel-squad

The Squirrel Squad was created to change the attitude towards going to games. To do that, Troup worked on creating a fan culture.
The first step was tio come up with a name. The Haverford College team name is the Fords. Most teams’ mascot is the Black Squirrel. “The alliteration, just popped in my head and it was too good not to use,” says Troup.
With a catchy name decided upon, Troup had to figure out how he was going to change the fan culture of Haverford College. He knew he had to make the games more appealing.
“The only game [before the Squirrel Squad] that people went to was the Swarthmore basketball game. It was also the best fan experience of the year,” Troup says. “I want to get every game to be like that.”
In order to increase the fervor around sports, Troup made Squirrel Squad t-shirts. “Part of the problem was that there were almost no fun Haverford athletic gear that was not team specific.”

Fan uniform

The Squirrel Squad t-shirts filled the clothing void. The bright red t-shirts have a drawing of a muscular squirrel with a large “H” on its chest. The simple color scheme allows for the shirts to blend together when placed side by side. The fun graphic made the shirt appealing to students. The shirt became a ‘cool,’ item to own on campus.
Over 300 shirts were purchased during the last order, an impressive stat for a school of 1,200. The latest incarnation of the shirt is a muscular squirrel dressed up as Uncle Sam. “The shirts are supposed to be like a fan uniform, allowing [the fans] presence to be better felt.” Continue reading

Manifestations of Laura Kemper

A Profile of Laura Kemper, Bryn Mawr’s assistant athletic director

By Sarah Fischer

The phone rings and Laura Kemper answers. Her tan face, speckled with freckles, becomes serious as she begins a series of interrogations.
“Is Heidi okay? Are her pupils dilated?” There is a pause.
“Well, can you check?” Another pause.
“Anyway, your ski gloves are on top of the dresser…or maybe in the attic on one of the bins”
Before she hangs up, she gives a final reminder:
“Look if one pupil is bigger than the other, or if she has crusted up blood in her nose”
After hanging up with this caller from home, Kemper apologizes and explains.
“It’s my dog Heidi. I’m checking her for a concussion.”
Kemper, assistant athletics director at Bryn Mawr College, routinely checks for concussions — but not usually in dogs. She works with the Bryn Mawr athletes to “manage prevention and care of injuries”
Kemper, 32, describes her job with a care and eloquence that shows how seriously she takes her job.
“I provide emergency first response care to the athletes…I evaluate and treat as needed. That includes sprains, joint and muscle, contusions, wounds, and concussions.”
In addition to this job description, Kemper also is the faculty liaison for the Bryn Mawr College Body Image Council and coordinator of Bryn Mawr’s Fit Club, an initiative to encourage Bryn Mawr students to work out amidst their busy academic schedule.kemper-use-this
Kemper calls these jobs her “three primary responsibilities,” but her dedication  make it so much more. Kemper holds a deep passion beyond any job description.

Laura the Giver
Before coming to Bryn Mawr College in the fall of 2007, Kemper held a variety of jobs, most of which involved her background in athletic training..
After graduating from Hofstra University with a degree in Athletic Training and going on to graduate school at University of Delaware for a masters in Exercise Physiology, Kemper returned home to Connecticut. There she worked per diem at Wesleyan University as a trainer and a personal trainer at Health Trax.
Health Trax, Kemper explains, was not the “typical meat head type gym.” The gym attracted an “older, conservative type crowd.” Health Trax enforced a dress code, too, which banned spandex and midriffs.
Kemper explains that the dress code promoted a healthier body image, an idea that Kemper had long studied in undergraduate and graduate school. (Kemper knew that she wanted to incorporate body image into her career, but wasn’t sure where that fit in)
At Health Trax, Kemper worked with special populations, including athletes, children, and people with medical restrictions such as cancer. Continue reading

The Thrill of Victory, the Agony of Injury

Injuries happen often at a school where one of of three students are on varsity sports teams

By Jonathan Yu

Drive around the campus Haverford College in suburban Philadelphia long enough and you will notice there are no big football fields, no marching bands, and no cheerleaders.
But that doesn’t mean the small Division III school is not sporty in it’s own right.
Roughly one-third of the 1,200 at Haverford play a varsity sport. And that means that in any given season, varsity athletes – particularly those in high-risk contact sports, such as men’s lacrosse and men’s soccer – suffer an array of injuries, ranging from minor to major. In fact, injuries related to sports are an everyday prospect at the college.
“Most of what we see are minor injuries, aches and pains, due to repetitive use or just the incidental contact involved in sports,” said Curt Mauger, Head Athletic Trainer at Haverford College.
According to Mauger, minor injuries include bumps and bruises, cuts, overuse injuries like tendonitis, and ankle sprains. Treating these conditions can be as simple as using ice and ibuprofen to using corrective stretching techniques.
But from time to time, serious injuries, like ACL tears, concussions, and some shoulder injuries, will sideline players for extended periods of time.
“We do see our share of more significant injuries that require testing, physician’s visits… but because we don’t have some of the very high-risk sports, for example, football, wrestling, ice hockey, we don’t see as many surgeries as some larger athletic departments,” Mauger said.
“We’ve been lucky to not have too many severe, season-ending injuries,” said Cory Walts, Fitness Center Director and Strength and Conditioning Coach at Haverford College.

* * *
Lacrosse player Leks Gerlak never expected to put down his stick so soon.
Gerlak, recruited from a top high school lacrosse program, was only a few weeks into his freshman year in 2007 when he cut hard on his right knee and “felt everything pop out of place.”
“I kind of hobbled over to the sidelines,” Gerlak said. “It wasn’t like it was excruciating pain or anything, so I was like, alright, maybe I just twisted my knee.”lacrosse1

Up until that point, Gerlak never had an injury – not even a sprained ankle. But the next day, the doctor told Gerlak that he had torn his ACL, a major ligament of the knee. The tear ended Gerlak’s lacrosse career.
ACL tears do not happen frequently at Haverford, but they are considered serious injuries, according to Mauger. Surgery is often needed to fix the tear and it usually takes about six to nine months to recover fully.
Most of the post-surgical rehabilitation is done on-site at Haverford. Mauger and two other athletic trainers provide treatment and rehabilitative services to varsity athletes from Haverford’s 23 teams with everything from sprained ankles to ACL tears.
For the past three years, Haverford has contracted with NovaCare, a corporate physical therapy provider, to give students, faculty, and staff access to a NovaCare physical therapist three times per week.
But it is not easy to predict how long a player will sit out due to an injury. Continue reading

A Life in the Arts

The Headlong Performance Institute teaches not just art, but how to live as an artist

By Pragya Krishna

In the 17 years since they founded the Headlong Dance Theater, Amy Smith, David Brick and Andrew Simonet have had 35 productions, a New York Dance and Production Award, a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and rave reviews from many newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times and the New Yorker.

Now they have turned their attention to teaching young artists at Headlong Performance Institute (HPI) in Philadelphia. This institute is one of few places in the nation that teaches students trained in one art form – ballet, theater, choir, even writing – about how to mix it naturally with other forms to create ‘experimental performance’. Most of their students are in college.

But while they love to teach, what the three are most proud of is bringing three things to this area: their rich knowledge about how artists can live a good life, their support for the city’s artist community, and their very different brand of ‘hybrid performance’. headlong-theater-use-this

Brick, Smith and Simonet form a striking trio – Simonet and Brick are both tall, dark and lean, and could be confused for twins if they dress similarly. Their website jokes about telling them apart: “Andrew is the taller one.” Smith, meanwhile, is small and petite, very much a dancer. They met at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and graduated together in 1990.
“All three of us loved ‘ensemble performance’ – performing with everything we had, our voices, our bodies, our expressions – that’s why we started the dance theater,” said Amy Smith, after a Friday showing of the Institute’s students. “But we also always loved to teach. And then six years ago, we underwent a strategic planning process and decided we wanted to have a larger impact on a smaller number of people.”

The Headlong Founders

HPI, founded in 2008, is located on 1170 S. Broad Street, a block south of Washington Avenue. It admits college students who are taking a semester away from school, and recent college graduates.

Students are attracted not just because of the kind of art form it teaches, but because of the education it offers about living as an artist in today’s world. This isn’t something taught in many art schools. Continue reading

The Freshman 15, 8, 2 , 0, -6, -9, -15

Not every new college student is packing on the pounds

By Hannah Turner

The ubiquitous Freshman 15 is dead.
While the lifestyle of college students still lends itself to high stress, overeating, and excessive partying, and while some students still do gain weight in college, many are fighting the trend of gaining 15 pounds or more in freshman year. Some are even replacing it with a Freshman Minus 15.
One of them is Haverford College sophomore Maria Johnson, whose name has been changed at her request. She said “wanted to avoid the Freshman 15 at all costs and possibly lose 10 of my own.” Surrounded by her family’s obesity and her friends’ eating disorders, the athletically-built Johnson had been trying to lose weight for years.
“I thought, when I get to college, my mom won’t be there to tell me to eat so I wilteens-overweight1l finally be able to lose weight. Plus, I will have close access to a gym. It’s the perfect opportunity,” she said.
When she arrived as a freshman, Johnson planned to exercise regularly and minimize snacking and ice cream consumption in order to lose weight. “Some mornings I didn’t eat breakfast but then I would be shaky and weak so I stopped doing that,” she said, but she met her goal and did lose weight._
Haverford freshman Allie Kandel had a similar strategy upon beginning college. Kandel, who called snacking a “dangerous habit”, said she lost six pounds in her first six weeks of college simply by making healthier choices.
Fellow freshman Anna Russell echoed the anti-snacking sentiments, but didn’t know if it had led to any weight loss. “I know that I eat less than I did in high school, simply because I don’t have snack foods available to me,” Russell said. “It’s a set-up that I deliberately created for myself…but…I haven’t been exercising like I did in high school.”

Continue reading

Food Truck Tweeting

Food trucks are using social media to make new customers

By Stephanie Trott

With effortless ease, Tom McCusker, owner of Honest Tom’s Taco Truck, ladles some hand-chopped salsa on top of his two beautifully made tacos, hands them to an eager customer, and whips out his phone to post a message on Twitter: he had just run out of sweet potatoes. He had just served the last sweet potato tacos.
McCusker is part of a new wave of food vendors, ones who are using the Internet as a means of free advertising and to gain a steady following among Philadelphians. Popular social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter allow entrepreneurs to set up a free website containing information, pictures, events, and specials.
According to Facebook’s online statistics, the website has over 500-million active users, spending approximately 700-billion minutes on the website per month. As of April 2010, Twitter reported to the Huffington Post that it had 180 million visitors in the website every month and 37% of those users update their pages through use of their cell phone.honest-toms
Though word-of-mouth initially helped McCusker get the wheels of Honest Tom’s Taco Truck rolling back in the summer of 2009, it was his decision to bring his business to the Internet that brought in a more steady stream of customers.


“I wasn’t familiar with Twitter when I started,” said McCusker in a recent interview in his lunch truck, located in University City at 33rd and Arch Streets.

He cited his brother’s roommate as getting him interested in Facebook and Twitter, both of which he now regularly updates. His Facebook page, which boasts over 1,000 followers, also contains the same                                         Honest Tom’s Taco Truck

updates as his Twitter page. Using both of these websites has allowed McCusker to gain stand out among the sea of vendors in University City, and has also improved his business.
“There was definitely an increase once we got onto the Internet,” he said, referring to the amount of patrons visiting his truck.
The beauty of Twitter, noted McCusker, is that the updates are short and simple. “I don’t write too much,” he said, “just my location and any specials.”
Continue reading

Upper Darby’s Time of Change

New people are arriving, new problems are arising

By Meld0n Jones

The largest township in the country has seen its fair share of change.
“I remember when Upper Darby was mostly Irish Catholic, White Protestant, Jewish and Italian, there weren’t many minorities at all” said Helene Curley. Curley has lived in Upper Darby Township, PA for over 60 years and has been a witness to the rapidly changing demographics.
Now Upper Darby is a smorgasbord of ethnicities, home to over 100 ethnic cultures earning it the nickname “The United Neighborhood”. A trip down 69th street is a linguist’s dream, where a slow stroll will treat the astute listener to over 50 languages. The crowded streets are framed with colorful restaurants and grocery shops from almost every imaginable place. Local residents are just as likely to have spicy homemade ceviche for lunch as Guyanese dhalpuri roti (a hot, buttery flatbread stuffed with ground yellow split peas, garlic and pepper, usually served with savory curry).69th-st
“I moved here because of the diversity” said Monica Routh, a new resident who moved to Upper Darby a year ago. “The high school is very good, and it’s very close to downtown Philadelphia too.” And Routh’s favorite thing about her newfound home? “The shopping!” she gushes. Indeed, the local businesses are ripe with interesting finds; from catchall shops run by local Sikhs to large chain stores, filled with glossy posters of the latest Nikes.
But Curley remembers the real glory days of shopping in Upper Darby. Her blue eyes take on a dreamy quality as she reminiscences about bygone years: “People used to come from the outer suburbs to shop here. The big department stores around then-in the 50’s and 60s- were you know, Gimble’s, Lit Brothers, Woolworth’s. Everyone came here to shop, especially around the holidays!”

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Paperless Tickets

Tickets may soon be a thing of the past

By Vanessa Ide

When Arcade Fire went on its U.S. tour this summer, one stop was the Mann Center for Performing Arts where tickets could be purchased from several outlets. But for their show in New York City, all general admission tickets were paperless and in Boston, only paperless tickets were available.
The paperless ticketing option is becoming more widespread for concerts and sporting events. Just bring your credit card to swipe at the venue, along with an ID.
Ticketmaster, the company that began its “Paperless Ticket” system in the U.S. as a way to fight illegal resale, hopes it will become the primary method for purchasing tickets. The system is so still so new, however, that buyers aren’t certain how it works.
When students were asked about the paperless ticketing option, most had not experienced it and were unenthused with the method when it was explained to them.
CSL087“I don’t think I like [it],” Said Lilly Catlin, a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College. “I don’t mind so much printing out [tickets] but something about going to a concert and having a [physical] ticket…and them ripping it… is exciting.”
Another student, Gabrielle LoGaglio, a junior at Bryn Mawr, goes to one or two concerts a month and said having paper tickets are “a point of pride. People cover their [bulletin] boards on their dorm doors with all their tickets…its like bragging rights.”
In a press release last December, Ticketmaster announced that it had surpassed sales of one million paperless tickets since the system’s launch in May 2008 with a tour by artist Tom Waits.

Paperless technology

“The success of our paperless technology establishes another viable ticket delivery option for our clients and fans,” said Dave Butler, president of ticketmaster North America in the press release. “We feel that paperless ticketing will become far more commonplace in the near future…paperless is a great, fan-friendly option for [artists, promoters and teams] should they choose to embrace this technology.”
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