Saturday Marks First Ever Athletics Weekend at MIT

Think MIT students don’t care about athletics? Think again. The inaugural Athletics Weekend will begin this Saturday at MIT, as ten varsity sports spring into action in conjunction with a series of campus wide events.

Organized by the UA Committee on Athletics, the purpose of the event is to “build community by rallying around our sports teams,” said Samuel A. Jasinski ’08, chair of the committee. In addition to eleven sporting events, the day will include a tailgating party on the steps of the student center, in-game events with prizes, and halftime events that include a lacrosse shoot-out and a wiffleball home run derby.

Students will also be able to take part in various raffles at most of the sporting events, and obtain free food and giveaways at the barbecue. Jasinski hopes that the turnout will exceed at least the roughly 1,000 students who are already involved in athletics in some way at MIT, ranging from varsity to intramural sports. The goal is to draw out a large portion of the student body, especially those who wouldn’t otherwise come out to watch athletic events.

Beginning with the men’s lightweight crew race at 6:48 a.m., other teams in action include doubleheaders for both baseball and softball, men’s heavyweight crew, track and field, sailing, men’s tennis, and men’s and women’s lacrosse.

The weekend festivities come at a cost of over $10,000 according to Jasinski, with funding coming from DAPER and the UA. When the proposal was first brought to the Athletics Department, Jasinski said that the committee’s expectation was that the event would be scaled down. But Julie Soriero, Director of Athletics, was immediately enthusiastic about the event, and encouraged the committee to continue with their full plans.

The goal is to make Athletics Weekend at least an annual event, according to Jasinski. The best case would be to have one during each of the fall, winter, and spring seasons, so that every team will have chance to participate, he said. Whether or not this happens will depend largely upon the success of this first weekend.

While it’s still unclear how interested students will be in a day dedicated towards athletics, there is potential for a weekend on the scale of Spring Weekend. Much of the initial barrier has been simply advertising the events to students, which has been a large focus of the committee over the past week. The committee has also been enlisting the help of student volunteers to staff the events. Jasinski expects 50-100 volunteers will help in the effort.

In the case of inclement weather, the Weekend will continue with the barbecue moved to the overhang outside of the Zesiger Center. With the exception of baseball and softball, the teams will all continue with their games.

After the weekend, the committee will assess the outcome of the events and determine the best way to move forward in future terms. Jasinski said that the committee is also working towards building a stronger link between athletes at MIT and the administration. “We want to turn locker room concerns into real results,” explained Jasinski.

What to Watch for on Saturday

Men’s Lightweight Crew, Biglin Bowl, 6:48 a.m.

The men’s lightweights look to play off of a great winter training season in their second race of the spring season. Watch the team bright and early on the Charles for the second weekend in a row, after finishing third last week in the Joy Cup.

Men’s Heavyweight Crew, Compton Cup, 9 a.m.

The men’s heavyweight crew team looked dominant last week in their victory over Williams College and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and they look to build upon that strong start of the spring season this week in the Compton Cup.

Sailing, Central Series, 10:30 a.m.

As the crew races are ending, the sailing team sets out on the Charles to continue their strong season. The team is coming off a sixth place finish in the New England Dinghy Championships.

Women’s Lacrosse vs. Mount Holyoke College, 11:30 a.m.

Coming off a tough loss against Wheaton College on Tuesday, the women’s lacrosse team looks to rebound against Mount Holyoke College, who remains winless in NEWMAC play.

Track and Field, Coed Invitational, 12 p.m.

The women’s and men’s track and field teams compete at Steinbrenner Stadium in the annual invitational. The men’s team remains undefeated so far this outdoor season, as the women are coming off a strong win over Colby and Bates.

Softball vs. Springfield College, 12 p.m., 2 p.m.

Despite already being eliminated from post season play, MIT looks to end its season on a high note with a doubleheader against Springfield College.

Baseball vs. Springfield College, 12 p.m., 2:30 p.m.

MIT squares off against Springfield College on Saturday to finish off regular season conference play. MIT has a chance to grab the no. 3 seed in the upcoming NEWMAC Tournament, which will allow them to start the tournament at home on Wednesday, April 23.

Men’s Tennis vs. Wheaton College, 1 p.m.

The men’s tennis team concludes their regular season against Wheaton College on Saturday. A win would put the team at a perfect 5-0 in NEWMAC play heading into the conference tournament next weekend.

Men’s Lacrosse vs. Clark University, 2 p.m.

Ryan W. Ballentine ’09 had an Institute-record seven assists as the men’s lacrosse team dominated Norwich University on Wednesday. The team hopes to continue this strong Pilgrim Lacrosse League play against Clark University.