One of the first things that initially drew me to Juniata were all of it’s crazy, unique traditions- when I was looking into Juniata I spent over an hour on YouTube watching videos about all of the traditions here. This past weekend my personal favorite Juniata tradition, Madrigal, took place. Madrigal dinner comes as a reward after a grueling week of tenting. For one week during the fall, which somehow always happens to be the coldest week, students sleep in tents and are awoken almost every hour of the night for role calls and to compete in events in order to gain points. The groups with the most amount of points get to select and secure their table at the Madrigal dinner first. The competition during tenting can get pretty intense, but in the end it’s all worth it for getting to have the perfect Madrigal evening.
As a Juniatian, the entire process of Madrigal didn’t seem that weird to me, but my date was pretty confused the whole night. The pinnacle of Madrigal dinner is singing “The 12 Days of Christmas”- at the top of your lungs…while standing on your chair. While this is an integral part of the Juniata experience, it’s not something you’ll find anywhere else, so to outsiders it may seem a little strange. The dinner is also served by faculty and staff members dressed in silly Christmas attire, which makes it even more fun. That professor who just gave you some feedback on a paper that you aren’t happy about? She’s refilling your water glass. Did your boss give you a long list of work for the week? He’s serving you your chocolate cake. Things like that are a part of what make me love Juniata so much, if I went to a school that was bigger than this I would never get to experience this kind of quirky, fun event. Plus, who doesn’t love a good excuse to get all dressed up with their best friends? Madrigal is another example of how Juniata traditions bringing everyone together to give us a special kind of experience and sense of community and togetherness that you just can’t find anywhere else.
For most of my life I was a pretty active kid, I loved sports, I played sports, and I watched sports. But, life got in the way during high school I didn’t really participate in sports much and I missed it a lot. Even though I wasn’t a part of a team I still considered myself active and saw myself as an athlete, so I knew that I wanted to get more involved with sports when I came to college. After committing to Juniata I looked into which club and intramural sports teams we had and was really excited about getting to play again. When I got here I joined the women’s club rugby team and loved it. It was great getting to be active again and to be a part of a team. But, then a unique opportunity came to me.
I was at a women’s volleyball game, cheering on my roommate, when I met the new women’s lacrosse coach, Naomi Radio. We talked for a little while and she tried convincing me to come and try out the new lacrosse program, but I wasn’t biting. The idea stayed on my mind for a while though, I had a friend on the team and it seemed cool enough. Then, I met her and talked to her again at a women’s basketball game a few weeks later and she convinced me to join the lacrosse team even though I had never played lacrosse before.
Initially I was really nervous about the time commitment, but it actually turned out to be one of the best things to happen to me thus far in my Juniata career. Being a student athlete has made me not only a better person but also a better student. Having to work in practice times has made my schedule more structured and made me more accountable and efficient with time management. I’ve also become a part of something bigger than myself, giving me even more resources than I already had to support me. Now my support system has extended beyond my friends here, my professors, and my advisers- I also have my coach and my teammates. There’s nothing more reassuring during stressful times than knowing how many people around you have your back and are willing to help you out. Juniata is already such a tight-knit community, but being a student athlete here has made me feel it even more by introducing me to more people and strengthening my ties to the community.