On Friday, April 20 approximately 40 members of the Wellesley community gathered on the soccer field for the first ever student versus faculty-staff soccer game. The event was organized by the Diversity Coalition, a group that consists of students, faculty and staff members and is responsible for promoting diversity initiatives on campus.
Yu Jin Ko, the Chair of the Diversity Coalition and a Professor of English, proposed the idea of a student versus faculty-staff soccer game. He explained that the primary goal of the event was to unite the college community and to build camaraderie amongst its members.
“The Diversity Coalition was looking for a fun activity that people from all parts of the community- students, staff, faculty- could join in and build camaraderie. There’s nothing like being teammates for building camaraderie. Things that might matter in other settings, like status within the college or gender or political affiliation, become insignificant when you’re playing together as teammates,” he said.
Ko added that he selected soccer for the student versus faculty-staff game because it is a sport that is played and appreciated outside of the United States. “We were also looking for an activity that would attract people of all ethnic backgrounds, including those who were born outside of the U.S. or grew up connected to other cultures. Soccer is the most global of all sports. Did someone mention World Cup?” he said.
Ko asked his former student, Gabriela Portilla ’19, an active member of Wellesley’s varsity soccer team, to recruit players for the student team. Portilla explained that she wanted the student team to be inclusive of all members of the campus community and diverse in terms of skill level. She did much of her recruiting through all-school emails, in which she stressed that students of all athletic backgrounds were encouraged to join the team.
“We did not want the student team to be made up of the Wellesley soccer team because that would defeat the purpose of the whole event. I sent out multiple emails to recruit students, and I got a good response,” she said. Portilla added that around half of the 14 member student team were not varsity soccer players.
Both the student team and the faculty-staff team came together and played cohesively on game day. Portilla said that the players did an excellent job communicating with each other and passing the ball as the match progressed.
“It was a fun game, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. It was a team effort on both ends, and it was great to see both teams communicating and passing the ball around,” she said.
Though both sides ultimately lost track of the score, Ko and Portilla agreed that the faculty-staff team won the match. However, Ko gave the students credit for showing excellent sportsmanship. He also acknowledged that many of the varsity soccer players on the student team were going half speed, given that they had their annual spring tournament the following day.
“The students were being great sports, and they took it a little easy on us. The ones who were women’s team players didn’t go full speed because they had a weekend game and only half-crushed us with their tackles,” he commented.
After the game, players had the opportunity to bond with their teammates and opponents over pizza and refreshments. Ko said that members of the student teams are already hungry for a rematch. “They want a rematch. We’re ready. We told them ahead of time: this won’t be no spring formal. Ain’t no one showing up in heels or his daddy’s tux, so come ready to play,” he challenged.
Ko also indicated that members of Wellesley’s varsity basketball team are eager to see a student versus faculty-staff basketball game take place in the near future.
“I say bring it on,” Ko commented. “I can guarantee you that a faculty-staff team will introduce them to the experience of getting posterized.”
Portilla explained that given the success of the match, the Diversity Coalition is considering making the student versus faculty-staff game an annual event.
“Keep a look out next year,” she urged.