Not your traditional sport
A glimpse into three clubs that engage with sports in unexpected ways
Dartmouth archery, founded by Mikey Steel ’21 last winter, is one of the youngest clubs on campus.
Formula Racing Team
A club with an unorthodox amount of necessary athletic skill is Dartmouth’s Formula Racing Team. This club is based out of the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth. Other than lifting the car for transport, the only athletic part of this club is driving the car.
The program was founded during the 1995-96 academic year and consists of a team of around 20 students. The team began competing in the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers competition, which consists of designing a standard formula-style race car, but Thayer began designing and entering cars in the newly created Formula Hybrid Competition in 2007.
“There are some years where DFR did all electric cars, and some years where they did hybrid cars,” said Leina McDermott ’19, an executive member of DFR. “This past year was the first time we’ve successfully tested a hybrid car since 2012.”
DFR achieved great success this past year when they entered and won the Formula Hybrid Competition for the first time. Before last year, DFR entered all electric vehicles into the Formula Hybrid Competition, but have recently transitioned back to a hybrid vehicle.
“It was an effort since 2016 to go from an all electric car to reentering as a hybrid,” McDermott said. “In 2017 and 2018, we’ve pretty much rebuilt almost everything on the car. In 2017, we did a huge mechanical overhaul, and last year we did a big electrical overhaul with a new battery pack. Those two things combined really allowed us to be successful last year.”
As a result of the changes, the team won the hybrid competition for the first time in the history of DFR as well as two awards, the IEEE Engineering the Future Award and the Fiat-Chrysler Industrial Design Award.
“The Industrial Design Award was for the battery pack specifically, and the Engineering the Future Award was for the suspension and chassis,” McDermott said. “Those were all things that we had redesigned for 2017, so that was really cool.”
DFR enters one car per year into one competition that is held either in April or May.
“Working backwards from [the spring], our goal is usually to be driving at least two weeks before the competition so we have time to test. Ideally, this would be a month before the competition,” McDermott said. “This means that we have to get all our fabrication done mostly in the winter term. Usually the structure is, in the fall, we do a lot more design work and planning and in the winter we do a lot of fabrication, especially over winter break and spring break. Our goal is for spring term up to the competition to do testing and iterating as necessary.”
In addition to work by the team, DFR also expands its scope to propose projects to Thayer’s capstone project courses, ENGS 89, “Engineering Design Methodology and Project Initiation,” and ENGS 90, “Engineering Design Methodology and Project Completion.”
“Usually we have at least one 89/90 project every year,” McDermott said. “We usually try to propose a project that’s kind of a big undertaking that’s isolated from the rest of the team such that it doesn’t interfere too much with having everyone be involved. In the past, there’s been a lot of mechanical projects such as suspension design and chassis design. In 2017, we had a carbon monocoque design project, and last year was the battery pack. This year we’re doing a hybrid motor controller. That’s really helpful for projects that require a lot more experience and dedicated effort than people can give part time.”
DFR, although based in Thayer and consists mostly of engineers, is open to any student with an interest in the club.
“There’s a couple people who are more interested in the business and management aspect of the team, which has been really helpful,” McDermott said. “We have a lot of work to do in terms of getting corporate sponsorships and project management.”
McDermott also notes that there are quite a few freshmen who are using DFR as a way of seeing if they’re interested in engineering.
Although the team accomplished a lot last year, there’s a lot more the team can work on.
“This year it’s been really awesome because there’s a lot of freshmen who are really interested,” McDermott said. “Even though we were successful last year, there’s a lot more we can do.”
Dartmouth archery is the one of the newest clubs on campus as Mikey Steel ’21 founded it last winter. What started with a Facebook post in the Class of 2021 group and a flurry of emails to the campus listserv has since evolved into a 15-member team. Archery is a competitive subsidiary club of the Dartmouth Outing Club’s Bait and Bullet sub club.
“I’ve been doing archery since eighth grade, and I wanted to do it here, so I got it started,” Steel said. “I talked to Rory [Gawler], the club advisor at the DOC, and the DOC was great to give us funding to purchase bows to use at the DOC Bait and Bullet shooting range. We just started up [with] our practices two days a week, and it’s grown.”
Last year, Dartmouth archery did not have official competitions, though Steel earned second place on his own for Dartmouth at the fall Ivy League Invitational Tournament. The team will be returning to the invitational this year on Nov. 10 with a full squadron aiming to take first place. The rest of their tournament schedule is not yet set because they are in the process of registering nationally as an official archery team.
Steel, a certified Level 2 coach, explained the ranking-style format of the upcoming competition, one of two distinct styles.
“You have your standard archery target with 10 rings,” Steel said. “You shoot three arrows per round — each round is called an ‘end.’ The center ring is worth 10 points, going out to one point at the end. You score all of your [points] up to 30 points, and those points are tabulated at the end and you shoot 10 to 20 ends of arrows.”
This is a ranking-style competition, where competitors shoot, the points are scored and shooters are ranked against everyone else.
To prepare for their competitions, Dartmouth archery practices two days per week, on Thursday and Saturday. The team first checks out their bows from Safety & Security and heads to the Bait and Bullet shooting range across from the Dartmouth Organic Farm. After setting up cones, targets and equipment, the archers will typically shoot for one to two hours. In the winter, the club will likely practice at Grafton Fish & Game as they did last year. Steel described the relaxing effect team practice has for the members.
“I love the sport. It’s really fun, [and] it’s really calming,” Steel said. “[For] a few of the people on the team, rather than [not coming] before a midterm, they come so that they can destress.”
Though not the most mainstream sport, archery provides an excellent alternative for those looking to try something new.
“Archery is a cool sport because everybody is like, ‘Baseball, basketball that’s a sport,’ but archery is not limited by your physical abilities; anybody can participate,” Steel said. “It’s kind of an unattainable sport for most people: ‘Oh that’s a cool thing. I wish I could do it.’ Then, when they have the opportunity it’s like, ‘Yeah, why not?’”
Hopefully, the archery team will continue to grow and thrive as they cement their place on campus as a competitive yet relaxing athletic outlet for Dartmouth students.
A more unorthodox athletic group that might be of interest for those who like the outdoors is the Dartmouth woodsmen’s team. This club team is open to anyone who is interested and has a lax time commitment; team members come to practices when they’re available. Dartmouth formed the first intercollegiate woodsmen’s team in the country, according to team captain Lauren Mendelsohn ’19. Soon after that, other colleges followed suit, such as Colby College, Duke University and McGill University. Unlike many of these other schools, where the woodsmen’s team is a varsity sport and holds tryouts, the Dartmouth team has remained a club sport.
“[The team is] open to everyone and it is as much of a time commitment as you make it,” Mendelsohn said. “However, it’s one of those things where you have to practice to be good.”
The woodsmen’s team holds practices four to five times a week at a “playpen area” at Oak Hill. Dartmouth prepares for competitions every term.
We went to Paul Smith’s [College] last week, and we’re going to [the University of New Hampshire] in a couple weeks,” Mendelsohn said. “We have a meet at McGill in the winter, while spring meets [are hosted here and at Colby]. Because we started the conference, [our] spring meet is the big culminating meet of the year.”
According to Mendelsohn, a meet consists of anything you can think of to make wood smaller in a limited time.
“There’s a lot of different sawing events, a lot different chopping and splitting events, but then also weird things like fire builds and log rolling and [events] where you run on a log in water,” Mendelsohn said. “Really anything that’s competitive involving wood.”
Despite having a less strict time commitment than other athletic teams, the woodsmen’s team nonetheless fosters a sense of community among its members.
“I joined the woodsmen’s team my freshman fall, and I’m a senior now, so, it’s been one of the biggest time commitments and sort of social groups for me on campus,” Mendelsohn said. “I’m also the [Dartmouth Outing Club] vice president so woodmen’s was kind of the club that brought me into the DOC.”
The sense of camaraderie that the woodsmen’s team has comes in part from a quote on their website, attributed to David Hastings ’00, “Half the fun of a forestry meet lies in cheering on your teammates, in screaming yourself hoarse to encourage someone to keep going even though their arms burn and tremble . . . Then your axe severs the last fibers and you collapse, surrounded by a whooping and hooting circle of friends.”