Proactive as always, several Wellesley students are starting new sports clubs and finding innovative ways to practice their sport, whether it’s curling, volleyball or gymnastics.
Having taken up curling after the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Alison Draikiwicz ’18 surveyed the student body for interest for a curling club in September. The club she and around ten other Wellesley students formed now practices at the Broomstones Curling Club in Wayland, Massachusetts, which other Boston area colleges also use.
“With a club that close, I felt that there was no reason Wellesley shouldn’t have its own club. Opportunity came knocking and the circumstances could not have been more perfect,” Draikiwicz said.
Though most of the members did not have experience prior to joining, so far the club has already had three curling sessions. They plan to compete in curling tournaments, or bonspiels, next semester.
“We plan on going to the Olympics in 2022 — you never know!” she joked.
As for funding including for equipment and access to the rink, the club is currently raising money online and plan to do other fundraising events throughout this academic year. The club hopes to apply for constitution next semester.
“It can be a tad overwhelming, but it is fascinating to feel like you’re building something from the ground up. I sincerely hope that the club will continue to exist far into the future,” Draikiwicz said. “I think that we have a solid base and a wonderful membership that cares for the continued success of our program.”
Another first year, Diana Lobontiu, started a sports club for leisurely volleyball play. A self-proclaimed “all-around volleyball fanatic,” Lobontiu has been playing volleyball since sixth grade, including playing on her high school varsity team, as well as in club volleyball.
“It’s one of the most graceful and technically demanding sports that still allows you to hit things,” Lobontiu said of volleyball.
She’s a fan of Blue varsity volleyball but doesn’t have the time to commit to being on a varsity team. So, last month she began an initiative for an open gym in the KSC for students interested in volleyball to come to play for two hours a week.
According to Lobontiu, approximately 20 people have showed interest in the open gym. It has yet to begin, but she plans for the group to form three teams to train on skills together and play against each other. She ultimately hopes to create a space where students can improve in volleyball without the stress of competition.
“The open gym will definitely not be as competitive as the varsity team, as we welcome players of all levels; there will be no official coaches or games, ergo no stress about winning or losing,” Lobontiu said.
Unlike Lobontiu, Sophia Vale ’17 has only recently begun in her sport of choice, gymnastics, at the end of her high school career. But similarly, Vale is also trying to start a club at Wellesley to bring students who share a passion for the sport together.
She began by enrolling in beginner-level classes before coming to Wellesley, where she quickly advanced in skill, especially compared to younger students. However, she was unable to continue at Wellesley without a gymnastics club, but she decided last month that she would begin her own. Vale said 24 other students have expressed interest for the team. But like Draikiwicz, Vale has experienced the difficulties associated with starting a sports club.
“Even at the beginner level, you really need to have spotters to help run people through different tricks and moves,” Vale said. Instead, the club’s practices will focus on tumbling, beginning with stretches. Practices would then be split by skill level. Vale plans for each group to have a student leader who would rotate in order for the team to develop different skills.
“Hopefully with KSC renovations there will be more open gym space, but really with gymnastics you need mats, tumble track, vaults, bars and trampolines, most of this equipment Wellesley does not have,” Vale said. She is currently speaking with those in charge of gymnastics facilities at MIT to see if the team would be able to use their space. The lack of space and equipment, according to Vale, is also why there is no P.E. class at Wellesley.
“There seems to be interest in the club, it’s really more a matter of feasibility. I hope that someone continues this through in the hopes that the administration will take notice of how many Wellesley students at all levels have an interest in gymnastics, but are limited in resources and time to go off campus for practice,” Vale said.
Vale also considered practicing tumbling by joining the Babson-Olin-Wellesley (BOWs) Cheerleading Team but noted that that team had its own troubles starting up.
Enna Hattori ’15, now a cheerleader on the MIT squad, was previously involved in the BOWs team. When she came to Wellesley, she tried out for the BOWs team and also recruited three other Wellesley students to join. The combined team practiced at Babson with a coach and cheered at Babson’s basketball games.
However, this year, Hattori found herself in a co-captain role of the team with another Wellesley student, Alexandra Spiliakos ’15 on the BOWs cheerleading team. Many of the other members, particularly Babson students, are studying abroad this year.
“It just became too difficult to liaise between Babson and the cheer team without a Babson member on the team,” Hattori said, commenting on why she and Spiliakos decided to permanently join the MIT team instead. “We hope that once the Babson cheerleaders come back from study abroad, they will restart the cheer team!”
Meanwhile, at MIT, Hattori and the team practice with four coaches for seven hours a week and cheer at football and basketball games. In comparison to the BOWs team, the MIT squad has much more stringent practices in order to train for Nationals in April. To balance her schedule with practice, Hattori is taking two classes at MIT and is considering studying at MIT full-time this spring.
Hattori, Draikiwicz, Lobontiu and Vale are committed to their sports, and these clubs allow them to make time in their lives and space at Wellesley for them.
Photo courtesy of Alison Draikiwicz