Letters From Carrigan: What We Think of Each Other

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Hey everyone! This semester, my column is going to look a little different than it has in the past. Instead of focusing on my experiences, I’m really interested in looking at our athletic community, the fun quirks it has and what makes it tick.

Following the theme of mixing it up, my next few installments of Letters from Carrigan will take on a specific theme. I’ll be focusing on the perceptions that we have of different sports and athletes on campus. Teams can often be very insular, and sports may seem complex and confusing to those who don’t play them. We thought that it would be interesting to get outside opinions from both athletes and non-athletes on the numerous sports and teams at Macalester.

For this column, I asked people what they thought about the Men’s Basketball team. Some quick facts about the team: they have 20 players on their roster, their head coach is Tim Whittle, the three leading scorers on the team are Kareem Ismail ’17 (281 points), Michael Gutierrez ’19 (255), and Wyatt Ferm ’19 (220), and they have a record of 3-16. These are the facts, but I’m a lot more interested in what people think of the team.

When I asked football player Tommy Jackson ’19 what he thought Men’s Basketball’s record was, he reasoned that they could be about 8-11. This thought was mostly fueled by their impressive performance at home against St. Thomas last week, who at the time was ranked #5 in the nation. Dan Szetela ’19 added that the basketball team “seems much less visible than a lot of the other teams. I recognize a lot of football and baseball players that I don’t personally know, but have no idea who is on [the Men’s Basketball team.]”

Giselle Tisdale ’19, on the other hand, presents a totally different view of the team. She’s only been to one game, but she said that “they’re a very cohesive team” and that they “seemed to always be working together.” Off the court, she has some fairly regular interactions with the team. She lives on the same floor as a few basketball players, has classes with some of them and is in an acapella group with two.

Across the board, Tisdale describes them as “incredibly sweet guys.” To her, the basketball team is very visible, creating an interesting contrast between different views of the same team.

Personally, I didn’t really know many basketball players very well in the fall. In the weeks since returning from winter break, however, I’ve gotten to know the team a bit better through classes and outside of school. They seem like really great guys, but it’s funny that I barely knew them for the first half of the school year. The athlete community is so tight-knit that it often feels like you know everybody, when in fact there might be huge gaps in the people you’re friendly with. Who people become friends with seems to be totally arbitrary, and even at a school as small as ours, there are still a lot of people who don’t know each other.

I went to the home game against Gustavus Adolphus in December and had a great time. There was a great atmosphere that night, in large part because of the crowd. The bleachers were packed and the fans were rowdy, standing up, cheering and shouting. For a team to be successful, they really need to be connected with their fans.

With these columns, I am going to try to promote a sense of connectedness within the Macalester athletic family and between the athlete community and the community as a whole. I hope that they will get a new perspective on the teams that play at Macalester and excite people enough to attend games that they might not otherwise see.

If you have any suggestions, complaints, criticisms, comments or anything else, please email me. As ever, have a great week, and stay positive!