Athlete Relationships: Seasons of Love
By Elizabeth Trager
Published on Friday, April 13, 2012
It is no new phenomenon that athletes tend to stick together like glue. Of course, it makes sense with their demanding schedules, intense discipline and mutual understanding of what it means to be on a team. We see sporty couples who migrate together in their matching varsity athletic attire, as well as girls sitting in FoCo amidst a herd of super ripped rowers. For players of certain sports, these interactions may become romantic — dating is notoriously common among players on particular teams. But on the other hand, there are many teams that have minimal interaction with the opposite gender.
For the Dartmouth’s men’s rowing teams, male-female interactions are extremely common because coxswains are almost always women, who take their roles very seriously.
“I am a competitive athlete, so I try to keep my relationships separate from the team’s success,” Andrea Daley ’12, a coxswain for men’s lightweight crew, said.
Lizzie Aviv ’14, another coxswain for men’s lightweight crew, said that her relationship with the male rowers is far from romantic and that the bonds between the men and women on the team are predominantly platonic.
“I’m sort of like their little sister, and at times I feel like a mommy for everyone,” she said. “It truly feels like a family because the guys are my closest friends.”
Daley added that many of her closest friends at Dartmouth are men because of her position on the crew team.
“That’s the nature of a team,” she said.
Both women said, however, that there also have been instances of negative gender dynamics on the team in the past.
“Everyone knows they are picking the best coxswain who will help the boat go faster, regardless of their gender,” Daley said. “But the old coach who left was very misogynistic and negative towards the female coxswains to the point where they were quitting and getting really upset. The dynamic is different now, and there is nothing I would change about the team.”
At Dartmouth, there are certain sports where the male and female teams are infamously close. Megan Krumpoch ’14, a member of the women’s track and field team, said that these relationships are fostered by the players’ similar schedules.
“People on the team date, probably because we spend so much time together,” she said. “We go to the track at the same time, do the same workouts and lift together. I think it’s great because we can learn from each other.”
While it would seem that dating could be disruptive for the teams, Krumpoch said that those who date tend to keep their relationships fairly quiet to avoid drama.
For those on the track and field team, circumstance seems to play a significant role in shaping and fostering relations between members of the men’s and women’s teams, and interactions tend to extend farther out into the social domain, according to Brett Buskey ’15, a member of the men’s team.
“We usually spend a lot of time together outside of classes and practice when we go out on the weekends,” he said.
Buskey said that the constant intermingling between the teams sometimes enhances the overall work ethic of student-athletes.
“It’s never weird practicing with girls,” he said. “If anything, it’s better because a bunch of guys work out harder to try and impress the girls and vice versa.”
Maddy Packard ’13, a member of the women’s alpine ski team, said that being on a coed team has been the highlight of her Dartmouth athletic career.
“The alpine team spends so much time together and is my Dartmouth family,” she said. “Generally the relations between the men’s and women’s teams are positive.”
At Dartmouth, members of the ski team have a reputation of dating one another. While Packard acknowledged that dating your “family” may seem incestuous, she said that dating almost always occurs between a freshman and an older ski team member.
“Once you have completed a year together, it’s friend zone central,” she said. “You just know too much. Everyone moves on from teammates and realizes there are plenty of other people to date.”
Even for those who have friends or lovers on the ski team, we can only begin to understand the unique culture that is the ski circuit. As a sport that demands intense dedication, time and discipline, skiing seems to generate some of the strongest and most intimate relationships among Dartmouth athletes.
“I’m not sure what the secret is, but we all get along so naturally — I can’t imagine not hanging out with them incessantly,” Packard said. “Skiing relationships extend beyond the Dartmouth campus.”
Furthermore, there’s the separate realm of female involvement in sports that have traditionally been male-dominated — most notably, rugby.
Molly Manning ’12, one of the captains of the women’s rugby team, said that while there do exist stereotypes about women’s rugby players never dating their male counterparts, they are based on only a handful of individuals and tend to be inaccurate when applied to the entire team.
“Dating definitely happens,” she said. “The ’01 men’s and women’s back’s captains are married and just had a baby. There have been a few male and female players who have dated while I have been on the team, but it really had nothing to do with rugby.”
There exist a wide array of male-female athletic interactions at the College. Although these relationships range from the platonic to the sexual, it is undeniable that certain sports bring together men and women in a powerful and unique way.