Debating William & Mary, sports and culture since 2011. Updated every Wednesday.

The Complete Freshman’s Guide to William & Mary Sports

In Sports Philosophy, William & Mary on August 29, 2012 at 2:36 pm

One thing that William and Mary always leaves out of Orientation is Tribe athletics. Don’t worry, freshmen. Crim Del Harris is here to fill you in with the complete guide to William and Mary sports.

William and Mary Class of 2016,

Congratulations! You are about to become a part of a university that has been a home to Thomas Jefferson (class of 1762), Mike Tomlin ’95 and Jon Stewart ’84. (You probably already knew that, but we’re legally required to mention Jon Stewart at least three times in any article about the College.) You planned for weeks, drove for hundreds of miles, and came with high hopes. Now that you’re moved into Botetourt and that nervous laughter of disappointment has disappeared, you’re ready for your four-year adventure in (occasionally) sunny Williamsburg, Va.

William and Mary offers a veritable cornucopia of activities for its students. (Interestingly enough, the cornucopia was the predominant form of dishware when the College was founded). But it might surprise you that the College has a vibrant sports culture. Tens of students regularly put on their Green and Gold and cheer on the Tribe. We understand that you have busy schedules and may not have the time to brush up on Tribe Athletics, so CDH has prepared the official Freshman’s Guide to William & Mary Sports.

FOOTBALL

William and Mary boasts a premier FCS football team, and it has made several runs at an FCS championship in recent years. What is FCS? Well, in 1978, the NCAA divided Division I athletics into I-A and I-AA, changing the designations to Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision, respectively, in 2006. The idea was to have the more than 300 universities in Division I athletics compete against similar opponents. The newly-created I-A would have the country’s principal football schools — your Ohio States, Oklahomas, Alabamas, etc. —  while I-AA contained more academically-inclined schools that didn’t rely on athletics to establish their reputations and have girls that are just as cute as their big state school counterparts.

William and Mary had a standing invitation to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, but the College’s Board of Visitors declined the invitation due to travel costs (There’s no documentation to prove this, but it’s brought up all the time, so it must be true). Students and faculty members also protested the possible move to the ACC, arguing that it would detract from the College’s academic mission and that the New Deal-era football stadium was just fine thankyouverymuch. Sure, the ACC would have been nice, but I’d much rather move up a spot in the U.S. News and World Report rankings than play Duke every year. Am I right, or am I right?

The division between big state schools and smaller (but just as good, if not better. No, totally better), academic schools has led some to believe that FBS schools are better at football than FCS schools. Not true! FCS schools regularly beat FBS schools, including the Tribe’s absolute demolition of the Virginia Cavaliers in 2009. I mean, did you see that game? It was one of the greatest Tribe victories of all time! Laycock perfectly executed his game plan, and B.W. Webb? He showed NFL-caliber talent. Sorry, that game gets me teary-eyed.

But yes, FCS schools beat FBS schools all of the time. And since the FCS schools don’t play their entire schedules against FBS programs, FCS is arguably the better subdivision. And we have a legitimate playoff, which completely makes up for the lack of bowls, funding and national television deals. And on the rare occasion when an FBS school beats William and Mary, just cover your ears and yell, “TJ! TJ! TJ!” until the game ends or they leave.

Despite its reputation as an academic rather than athletic school, the College has a fairly prestigious football legacy. Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Tomlin is an alumnus, along with some NFL Hall of Famer who played for the College back when they used leather helmets. William and Mary even beat Oklahoma. The Sooners did not appreciate the College’s offer of complimentary blankets from the Brafferton (Oh well, old habits and all).

The Tribe plays its home games at Zable Stadium, between the Randolph Complex and the Sadler Center. Williamsburg might not turn into the Grove on game days (the ratio of sundresses/bowties to spectators is far too low), but getting into a game for free, listening to the Pep Band butcher your favorite hits from the 70s, and watching some decent football makes for an okay Saturday. Get together with your freshman hall, make signs, paint your bodies and march over to Zable to cheer on the Tribe. (You’ll probably want to stop with the body painting around mid-October when your unlimited meal plan starts to take effect. Goddamned Laycock specials.)

MEN’S/WOMEN’S SOCCER

If Tribe football is the hit single of William and Mary sports, the soccer teams are its deep-cuts: just as good but not as popular. Both the men’s and the women’s teams regularly vie for CAA championships. (Don’t know what the CAA is? You’ll fit right in.) Even Jon Stewart ’84 once donned the Green and Gold for the varsity squad (presumably when he wasn’t busy hating everything else about William and Mary).

Both teams now play at beautiful Martin Family Stadium at Albert-Daly Field (Not to be confused with the Martin’s Grocery chain, which used to be Ukrop’s, because only like three families ever donate money to this school). But don’t worry about not getting a seat — there are always tickets available because students get in free! (Although it’s not like it matters, because only like 50 people ever go.)

The soccer teams may not have the built-in appeal of football or the accessibility of basketball, but you should try to make it to at least one game. Organize your hallmates, take the bus out to the Dillard complex (because none of you have cars!) and enjoy some of the most well behaved soccer you’ve ever seen. Actually, it’s probably the only soccer you’ve ever seen.

MEN’S/WOMEN’S GYMNASTICS, MEN’S/WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY

Four of the most highly decorated and consistently excellent teams at William and Mary. You will never go to their events.

MEN’S/WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

There are some schools that are synonymous with college basketball, like Duke, North Carolina and Kansas, just to name a few. William and Mary is not one of those schools. In fact, the College is one of only five universities never to have played in the NCAA basketball tournament since the advent of Division I sports. (If you don’t know what that means, it’s not good.)

Despite that albatross around its neck (and since you go to William and Mary, you probably do get that reference), the College does occasionally have a good game, or even a good season. Matchups with local rivals, like ODU, VCU and Richmond regularly turn into rowdy contests, and any season finish of .500 or better is grounds for a mid-semester Blowout.

But even a standard Tribe season of 10-22 can have its benefits. William and Mary Hall can be a fairly quiet study space, and the Griffin will probably do some weird shit, too. And if the score gets too out of hand, start snarky chants and hold up signs like, “safety school!,” “SAT scores!,” and “your SAT scores are lower than our RPI!” Because if you can’t beat them on the court, make them feel stupid. On a related note, “Projecting an Inferiority Complex” is offered as an elective by the English, Math and Potkay departments.

OTHER SPORTS

William and Mary has other sports, too. I would tell you about them, but I have to finish a problem set at Swem, and then this girl that I kind of like wants to go to a Wren 10. And I think Wizards and Muggles is meeting tonight for something, too. Oh, have I told you about quidditch already…?

So there you have it, the Compleat Frefhman’f Guyde to William & Mary Sportf (see what I did there?). CDH hopes that you find it to be helpful during your time at the College. Just remember: Don’t cheer when we’re on offense … really, that’s probably all you need to know. Hark Upon the Gale.

Jon Stewart ’84. And that’s three.

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