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New Falcon Cup inspires school spirit among athletes

October 17, 2013

In addition to competing against other schools, UW-River Falls varsity sports teams now compete against each other as well.

The Falcon Cup is a new competition made to inspire school spirit among the sports teams on campus.

“I feel that this will help to unite athletics across campus,” said senior track and field athlete Stephanie Walek.

Track and field athlete Anthony Sumnicht cheers on the football team at the Homecoming game with student Matthew Hobbs on Oct. 12.
Track and field athlete Anthony Sumnicht cheers on the football team at the Homecoming game with student Matthew Hobbs on Oct. 12. (Kathy Helgeson/University Communications)

Assistant Director of Athletic Performance Andrew King came up with the idea for the competition. King said that some parts of the challenge are taken from Hamline University, as well as UW-Whitewater, but that UWRF added some of its own parts as well.

“I work with all athletes on campus as an athletic performance coach, and that’s how I came up with the idea for the Falcon Cup.” King said. “Having all athletes support each other is really the big thing.”

All varsity sports teams on campus participate in the competition. There are six categories where teams can earn points: academic achievement, athletic excellence, campus involvement, community service, Falcon pride and Falcon success series.

Some teams, such as football and track and field, have larger teams than golf and tennis, for example. To counter this, teams get points based on a percentage of athletes from the team that shows up to an event, as opposed to a point for each person.

A large focal point of the Cup has been athlete attendance at sporting events.
“It encourages the athletes to support each other and it brings more of a community sense to athletics,” said senior cross country runner Hillary Geipel.

The track and field team attended a tennis match, which was the first time in years the tennis team had fans come to a match, according to track and field athlete Anthony Sumnicht.

“We had over 100 athletes show up to our women’s volleyball game on Friday (Oct. 4) against UW-Oshkosh. It’s great to see. It’s almost a quarter of our athletes there, including those which would be competing on Saturday morning,” King added.

For some athletes, the Cup means more than just attending another team’s game.

“I think one big thing that has been lacking for a lot of the athletes is the much needed support from other student athletes,” Walek said. “From my perspective, when I see people from another sports team at my track meet watching, it reminds me that I am not just competing for me, but rather to represent the University.”

The Falcon Cup has also helped some student athletes see that their sport is not the only sport worth paying attention to.

“In the past, athletes didn’t really recognize other athletes outside their sports, but we do really have a lot in common. We’re all Div. III student athletes that participate in athletics for the love of the game, whatever that may be, and we are all working to fulfill both our academic and athletic goals,” Geipel said. “The Falcon Cup brings us together.”

“I think it is great for the University to bring all athletes together and encourage everybody to attend sports and do good things in the community,” said sophomore quarterback Ryan Kusilek. “Our teams want to go to all these events to get Falcon Cup points, and we want to be the team that doesn’t just go and sit there, but rather the team that goes and is the loudest and the rowdiest.”

As of Oct. 16, the women’s basketball team has accumulated 112 points, giving them the overall lead. Women’s soccer has 89 points and is in second place.

The final results will be announced at the Falcon Awards at the end of the year. The winning team receives a trophy and bragging rights, according to King.

“We have a lot of pride and we are so thankful for everyone who comes to our games,” said Kusilek.