Brilliant article by Katie Baldiga ’07.

When does someone become an Eph? Is it when he first receives his admission letter in an envelope with a purple cow sticker? When he moves into a tiny double in the Frosh Quad? Maybe when he steps onto the field to compete as a Williams athlete for the first time? Or perhaps it’s when he’s standing on the sidelines of the Homecoming game against Amherst rooting on the men in purple while wearing long underwear and every pair of gloves he owns? Most Williams students probably have a moment when the school became home for them, when being an Eph became a part of who they were.

I know when I realized I had become an Eph. It happened on a very cold, lonely set of bleachers alongside Renzie Lamb Field, at a field hockey game in late October during the fall of my sophomore year. It was rainy. Very rainy. The midweek regular season game hadn’t drawn much of a student crowd, but a few parents and friends were huddled under umbrellas to watch Williams take on heavily-favored Middlebury. I was there to cover the game for the Sports Information office.

Before that year, I had never seen a field hockey game. I didn’t know the rules and I couldn’t recognize the standouts, appreciate the strategies, or evaluate the quality of a contest. When the Director of Sports Information, Dick Quinn, contacted me the summer before the season, asking if I would be interested in covering the women’s field hockey team, I was hesitant. But, as a lifelong sports fan and high school athlete, I had desperately missed being a part of the athletic culture during my freshman year at Williams. This was my chance to get back into sports.

So I took the job. When I had my first conversation with the head coach in early September, I was embarrassed to admit that I really didn’t know much about the team – or even the sport. But, like most people I’ve encountered at Williams, she welcomed the chance to teach me about the things she was passionate about: the game and her athletes. With each home game, I learned a few new rules of the game, noticed a couple more subtle techniques, and became a bigger fan of the women on the team. Conversations after the game with coaches and players helped me learn even more. Soon, I knew the positions, the players, and the team’s tendencies, strengths, and idiosyncrasies.

I started to spend more and more time in the Sports Information office after the game writing up the story. It was no longer enough to include the goal scorers and some hazy play-by-play. I wanted to share how two minutes of frenzied play by a midfielder coming off the bench turned the game around, how a perfectly executed corner set-up the game-winning tally, and how promising the rookie defender looked. The stories improved in part because I learned more about the game and its terminology, but mostly they got better because I was becoming a fan.

That realization snuck up on me during that cold game against Middlebury. Sitting alone on those bleachers, trying to keep the rain off my notepad, I found that I wasn’t thinking about the weather. For the first time since my basketball career ended senior year of high school, I was caught up in a game. The team that I had watched all year was hanging in there and looked like they just might have it in them to pull of an upset. And, as Williams knocked in the game-winner with under a minute-to-go, I jumped off the bleachers. A little yelp of joy escaped. I was an Eph, a very proud Eph.

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