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Falcon Cup Challenge continues to bring UWRF athletes together

October 31, 2014

UW-River Falls athletics could not function without all of the teams uniting together to support each other, whether that be volunteering time to work at a home sporting event or simply cheering each other on.

UWRF home events would not be possible without the track and field teams running the concession stand, men’s basketball running parking at football while women’s basketball runs security, four different athletes volunteering to be ball retrievers at soccer games, men’s hockey doing grounds work at softball and many other things that go unnoticed at any given event.

The “Falcon Cup Challenge” is another aspect that has helped to bond all of the UWRF athletes together into the “Falcon family,” that is often talked.

The challenge is relatively new to UWRF athletes. The Falcon Cup Challenge is a friendly competition among UWRF athletic teams to recognize the academic, athletic and social success of Falcon student-athletes, according to uwrfsports.com.

“The reaction starting off last year was very positive,” said Assistant Athletic Director Crystal Lanning. “During the J-term break it kind of died off so that is one thing we are working on for this year.”

Going into the second year, Lanning said it did not start off with the initial response it did last year since it was something new but that everyone is still engaged with it.

“After last year we are ready for another successful year with it,” Lanning said.

A season ago the women’s basketball team won the inaugural Falcon Cup Challenge and is off to a hot start again this year as it currently leads again.

“We used it as an opportunity to go and win something,” said captain guard Richell Mehus. “We did a lot of community events, went to support other teams and did everything as a team.”

Mehus added that she thinks there is still a lot of excitement this year for the Falcon Cup Challenge as the women’s basketball team is still trying to win it and that men’s basketball, who finished last a year ago, are trying harder this year currently sitting in third place.

There are six different areas where teams can earn points for the Falcon Cup Challenge. Falcon pride is the category where teams earn points by attending another sporting event.

“When athletes are competing I think they appreciate seeing their peers,” Lanning said. “It has been neat to see people say I have never been to a tennis match or I have never been to a hockey game before this and I think they really enjoy the new experience.”

Mehus echoed those thoughts.

“It was a good opportunity to get to know the other teams and be able to support them,” she said.

Another area to earn points is by attending the “Falcon Success Series.” The Falcon Success Series is a comprehensive series of programming offered throughout the Falcon student-athletes collegiate career to promote academic, athletic and social success, according to uwrfsports.com.

Teams also earn points by doing community service projects.

“Almost every one of our teams does some type of community service,” Lanning said.

Campus involvement is an area where athletes can earn points by being involved in an organization outside of their sport or attending a school play or music concert.

“One of the things about Div. III is it really tries to get athletes into and involved with the campus,” Lanning said.

Two areas where the athletes can earn the most points are in academic achievement and athletic excellence. 50 points is the highest amount that can be given in the Falcon Cup Challenge. If a player earns All-American honors in athletic excellence or like in women’s golfer Gillian McDonald’s case if they win a prestigious award. McDonald was the first person to earn a team 50 points this year when she was named the WIAC golf Scholar- Athlete.

Mehus said the Falcon Cup Challenge has helped provide unity not only for all the athletic teams but for the women’s basketball team as a whole.

“It encourages some people if they do not feel connected with the team to get involved with everyone,” Mehus said. “We all travel to events together and just like to have fun with it.”

Falcon Cup Challenge standings can be found by going to uwrfsports.com and searching for Falcon Cup Challenge underneath the Falcon athletes tab.

“I like to reward the students for what they are doing outside of athletics,” Lanning said. “I hope the campus as a whole can see that our athletes are really involved with other things on campus and in the community outside of just their sport.”