commentary by Genesis Leggett, Campus Carrier staff writer
One of the more interesting stories about Martha Berry was that she did not want Berry to have a football team. This wish was so pertinent that she supposedly had it written in her will. Whether or not that story is true, we all know that Martha Berry placed a great deal of importance on a more holistic approach to education. Ask any Berry student about how their education relates to the phrase “Head, Heart and Hands” and you’ll get a multitude of various responses ranging from student jobs to volunteer work.
Berry’s purpose is “to provide an integrated education of the head, heart, and hands as the means by which to graduate responsible adults with the knowledge, experience, character and passion to improve the communities in which they live, work and serve.”
In my opinion, Berry Athletics provides the soul (or fire) in the belly that gives students and student-athletes that sense of burning ambition and determination.
Collegiate athletics are meant to create additional environments for students to connect and develop a sense of pride in their school. Unlike schools that are primarily known for their athletics first and academics are seemingly left on a back burner, Berry is nationally regarded foremost for its academic programs. As a student body, we should all be able to agree that earning a degree from Berry College is not easy at all.
Because of Martha Berry’s “head, heart and hands” mantra, most students work one or two on-campus jobs and participate in various student organizations. We are fortunate enough to have top-tier students and athletes at Berry.
As an athlete, I can attest to the fact that Berry Athletics has promoted a sense of identity by tying people from all walks of life together here at Berry and beyond the bubble. Being a student-athlete here has given me the opportunity to meet great people, athletes and non-athletes.
The social connection that is developed through coming together to cheer on your favorite team or boo a common enemy satisfies that innate human desire for social connection and sense of belonging. There is no greater feeling than sitting courtside, watching your friends and peers showcase their talent and represent Berry College in a way that would make Martha consider rewriting her will. The sports culture is infectious, and having the ability to participate with a group to rally behind a common goal is a trait that can benefit people for the rest of their lives. Berry Athletics provides the emotional and physical energy needed to connect the head, heart and hands.
Our Vikings are on the frontlines, fighting for our school’s reputation. Their success is directly connected to the support they have from their peers. As an athlete, I understand the physical and emotional sacrifices one has to make to be successful in playing the sport you love.
Our athletes place themselves in challenging positions on a daily basis trying to balance school, work, athletics and social life. Non-athlete students, faculty, staff and administration should all rally behind the idea of encouraging community amongst peers. This is the idea behind “We All Row.” No one steers the ship to success on their own; it takes a crew working together to ensure smooth sailing.
Martha would be proud of what Berry Athletics has become today and what it has achieved. She would be pleased with the way our athletic program exemplifies and inspires what she had in mind for a holistic education.