Freshman Cup New Staple of the First-year Experience

After a summer of brainstorming, organizing, and petitioning for funding, Ryan Miller PO ’14 launched the first-ever Freshman Cup this fall, a year-long intramural sports competition in which the five first-year residence halls compete for the coveted trophy and glory of the championship.

After being chosen as a 2011-2012 sponsor in the spring, Miller conceived the idea for the Freshman Cup over the summer and began work right away.

“I thought it would be a cool way to integrate freshmen more into the campus life and get them to bond more outside of their sponsor groups, within a building and in between buildings as well,” he said.

Miller described the program as having a “dual goal,” not only benefiting the first-year student community but also promoting unity within the Residence Hall Staff (RHS), which includes RAs and sponsors.

“I also thought it would be a good way to integrate the members of RHS and strengthen their relationship with the freshmen. It could make them a more solid, unified resource for the freshmen,” Miller said.

The Freshman Cup follows a schedule modeled after that of Pomona’s larger intramural sports program. First-year students are divided into five teams by their residence halls: Blaisdell, Mudd/Gibson, Lyon, Harwood, and Wig, competing once or twice a week against one another. Miller explained that over the course of the year the teams will compete in a round robin competition for each of nine sports: inner-tube water polo, beach volleyball, indoor volleyball, outdoor soccer, indoor soccer, flag football, basketball, dodgeball, and softball. Having already competed in inner-tube water polo, beach volleyball, and indoor volleyball, the teams will begin soccer games next week.

In order to realize this new program, Miller reached out to several organizations on campus.

“When I thought of it, I proposed it to OCL and the intramural coordinator, Michael Gravagne,” Miller said. “Once we had the initial idea and OCL had approved it, I started going to other places on campus looking for funding. OCL has given funding, the ASPC, Dean of Students, the SCC, and the Alumni Association have all contributed.”

With the help of these organizations, Miller was able to make his vision a reality.

“It ended up being about a $4,000 budget and that will cover free shirts for everybody, all the freshmen, all the sponsors and RAs, whether they participate or not,” Miller explained.

“The rest of the funding goes to a trophy at the end of the year that will get passed down from year to year with a plaque on it for each year for the team that wins. It will get stored for the next year in the winning dorm. And then there will also be a party at the end of the year for the winning dorm,” he added.

While the Office of Campus Life (OCL) is most involved in the Freshman Cup administratively, Miller explained that the alumni association contributed most of the funding and therefore allowed him to make his vision possible.

Director of Alumni Relations Nancy Treser-Osgood recalled when Miller came to her, explaining his hopes for the program and the deficit he faced.

“It was probably about three weeks ago and he said they were short about $1,500 in funding, primarily to provide all the t-shirts for the first-year students, and wanted to know if we could support that initiative,” Treser-Osgood said. “I looked at my budget and decided it was a worthwhile program and wanted to support it.”

Treser-Osgood said she hopes that her financial support of the program will not only benefit first-year students, but will be helpful to alumni relations as well.

“This is a way of saying, ‘Welcome, you’re part of the community. And when you leave, we hope you’ll continue to give back to make things like this possible for those who come after you,’ ” Treser-Osgood said.

“We’re trying to be intentional about educating students that you’re here because of the alumni who gave before you. It’s important to give back,” she added.

Miller also sees potential benefits for alumni in a class unity that will extend beyond students’ years at Pomona.

“When alumni come back, they can walk through the halls and see where the trophy is now. They can look and see the plaque when they won, or when they got second place. It will still be there. That’s really my long-term vision for the program,” Miller explained.

“I would love for it to be a staple of the freshman experience at Pomona. When the tour guides are walking around, I want it to be something they’ll talk about. It will just be another added benefit of coming to this school. Another really cool and unique freshman experience,” he added.

Although Miller does not plan on remaining a member of Pomona’s RHS next year, he would like to remain in charge of the program for the remainder of his time here at Pomona.

“I have such a vision for the program, it would just be hard to enact in one year and then just pass off. I would like to continue remaining in charge until I graduate and then pass it off to someone that’s going to put the same effort into it and have the same goals as I had,” Miller said.

Miller said that participation from the first-year class so far has been excellent.

“At certain games, there’s not just the teams playing and their subs, but 20 to 30 more people will come just to watch and cheer their friends on,” he said.

“It’s lived up to what I wanted it to be, and I think it can only go up from here. That’s one of the great things about Pomona. You have an idea, and people on campus are willing to help you make that a reality,” Miller added.