Tour de sports

Why you should go see a game

While strolling through the South 40 on a weekend afternoon, it’s not uncommon to her the far-off noises of some form of sporting event. Chances are, you stop for a second, make sure you’re not imagining sounds and continue your walk into Bear’s Den to get a mid-afternoon snack. Unless you were seriously confused when you made the decision to enroll at Washington University, chances are you probably didn’t come here for the sports. But that’s no reason to not start now, especially considering that our sports teams are actually successful across the board—a luxury we often ignore.

Washington University is in a unique position: It’s a small enough school that the teams are accessible, but they’re also really, really good. It’s easy to support teams that consistently do very well. Wash. U. is the proud purveyor of one of the best Division III programs in the country. In the last 22 years (the length of Chancellor Mark Wrighton’s tenure), Washington University teams have won 17 of its 22 total NCAA championships and 165 of its 197 UAA titles. If you don’t know anything about sports (or numbers), we can sum it up for you: The Bears have been really good recently. And you can cheer them on at a slew of playoff games—each with serious potential for excitement—this weekend.

To start off your tour de sports, the women’s volleyball team will face off against Calvin College on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Calvin is 16-0 in their conference and is the very team that took the national title last year. While you can’t watch the game in person (unless you want to travel to Bloomington, Ill.), you can watch a live stream of it on the Wash. U. sports website in the comfort of your own common room to support your favorite lady Bears.

If you’d rather see some live-action sporting goodness, look no further than Francis Field. Last week, the women’s soccer team beat conference rival University of Chicago 2-1 in a dramatic finish at Stagg Field. The final goal, scored by freshman Ellie DeConinck 41 seconds after junior Darcy Cunningham’s second half goal, guarenteed the Bears’ spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Bears are looking to defend last year’s national championship (the first in program history), where they beat Messiah College in a dramatic 1-1 (5-4 PKs) win after two overtime periods.

If you missed last week’s away game, make sure to head down to Francis Field this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. as women’s soccer faces off against Dominican University in the first round of their 12th consecutive NCAA Tournament. In the past two years of the Bears’ tournament appearances, they’ve beaten a top-two team, and this game has the potential to lead to their third consecutive final four and championship game. While missing their former star player Lizzy Crist, the team now has freshman powerhouse goalkeeper Emma Greenfield and sophomore Taylor Cohen, who leads with team with 13 (four game-winning) goals to lead the pack. Over the last seven years, the women’s soccer team is 128-18-10 overall, showing their prowess as a team, especially in the context of their tough conference. As an added bonus to seeing a great team, it’s extremely rare for students to get to see a playoff game on their own home turf, and better yet, on a Saturday! Realistically, what else do you have to do? And if your first excuse is “I am a college student, therefore I have no money,” I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to hear that Student Union is making this event free with a valid student ID for this one game only! Come watch it! There’s no reason not to!

Speaking of free events, Student Union is sponsoring “Game Day 2017” in the Simon Hall parking lot starting 10 a.m. Saturday, featuring catering by Cane’s Chicken and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages for students. If you spend your weekends pining over the Instagram posts by your state school friends all decked out in their school colors before the big game, this event is for you. Advertised as a pre-football tailgating experience in preparation for the Bears’ game against Bridgewater College at 1 p.m., the event actually serves three purposes: pre-football, pre-soccer and pre-formal. That’s right: Three events in one day! If you’re not worn out after two sure-to-be exciting games, SU is sponsoring a formal dance in the Knight Center from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. It can be like your high school homecoming all over again, but everyone is (maybe) more mature and (definitely) more stressed.

One of the greatest aspects of the Washington University sports community is its sense of integration into the academic community. Contrasting to massive state schools with powerhouse programs on a pedestal, Wash. U. sports are both extremely successful while maintaining their close-knit atmosphere. The members of the teams are also members of your class project groups, and they’re right alongside you in the long lines in the Danforth University Center. So, turn off the TV for a night, put on your winter coat and go see a sports game.