One of the perks of attending a liberal arts college is that students have more control over opportunities that happen on campus. From continuing athletics outside of the college’s varsity sports, to job opportunities, to creating new clubs and organizations, Maryville students continuously find ways to pursue their passions.
Take myself for example. I started track and field my junior year of high school and immediately fell in love. I started running to lose weight and decided that competing in the sport would motivate me to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
When choosing colleges, I knew I wanted to continue running. I was thankful that I could still compete in college, although I’m only recognized as being a cross country runner because Maryville doesn’t have an full-fledged track team. For my own fitness, I knew that track best complemented cross country, so I found a way that I could continue my track laps without violating NCAA policy.
In mid-December, approximately a month after my cross country season ended, I began training for track. I coach myself with the assistance of my high school and college coaches, as well as former MC runner Sean Hagstrom ’17. During January and February, I run indoor track, and run outdoor track from March through May.
One of the downfalls is trying to find meets within two and a half hour distance away that accept unattached runners. Although my season is roughly the exact same timeframe as cross country, I have fewer opportunities to compete. While it is stressful, I would not trade it for the world because I find that I’m much more prepared to handle cross country season in the fall and run faster times.
Another example pertaining to the collegiate sports scene is Jacob Williams’ passion for boxing. Much like my experience, Williams took up boxing as a way to live a healthy lifestyle. Registering for matches is Williams’ motivation to maintain his fitness level.
“Boxing is a lifestyle that I continue to get up and pursue each day,” Williams said. Boxing teaches discipline and responsibility, and it will test you daily both physically and mentally.” He acknowledges his coach and mentor, Ralf Santiago, to keep him on track with workouts and competitions.
Without having a team with which to train, finding time to complete workouts and compete in matches is both a blessing and a curse, as it happens at one’s convenience. Traveling for matches and meets is one downside, especially when it conflicts with academic commitments. Since track and boxing are not affiliated with the school, professors do not have to comply with making up assignments or exams. Williams is thankful that his professors are willing to work with him during boxing season
“I know that, as long as I am honest about my time commitments and keep myself on track, that I can be successful in the classroom and in the ring,” he said.
Outside of sports, several students with a passion for their faith created a new outlet for MC students with the same interest.
Maryville College’s “The Movement” was started this past spring by sophomores Zac Layman, Haley Cloud, Kelsey Scharff and Jarred Martin. “The Movement” is a Christian organization that started on campus this past year.
“The club exists to lead others through Christ and to gather together and talk about Jesus and our struggles in an open environment,” Cloud said.
The club’s mission is to build each other up in Christ.
“The Movement’s purpose is to let people come and enjoy each other’s company,” Scharff said. “At times we’re super serious, but we also have fun and hang out together. It’s a great place for anyone intrigued by Christianity because you get to see us act like ourselves.”
Unlike other Christian organizations with outside support, students solely lead “The Movement.”
“It separates us from other Christian clubs because our learning aspect aims for whole group discussion to make it more personal and intimate,” said Zac Layman, the club’s president. Each meeting is led by students and strives for its attendees to talk about topics that they find relevant.
The club is relatively new, so its focus is currently on attracting students and finding its place within the Maryville College community. Jarred Martin believes that “The Movement” can only grow from what is happening right now.
“In the future, we want to reach more people,” he said. “The more we pray and put our minds in this, we can only grow. We could potentially spread this to more campuses. I don’t think there’s a limit on what God can do, so I don’t see a limit on what ‘The Movement’ can do.” This semester’s meetings of “The Movement” will be announced in the MC Today newsletter.
Maryville College could not operate without its students, and the students would not receive the education they currently have without the structure of their institution. Creating opportunities for oneself and others shows leadership, determination and courage to make one’s college experience worthwhile.
As Williams said, “It is the balance between institution and student that allows this college to shine, and why so many people call this wonderful little place home.”