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MIT student blogger Mollie B. '06

MIT Athletics by Mollie B. '06

When I picked the topic for this entry, I was cheerleading at an MIT basketball game. I may have been unduly influenced.

This entry is a double cheat — I was trying to think of something to write about while cheering for tonight’s MIT mens’ basketball game, and I realized that I had written something intelligent about MIT athletics the other day on CC. I really was paying attention to the game, but my feet hurt and I was tired and my mind was drifting a little.

There are a lot of sports at MIT, and a lot of ways to get involved with physical activities. This may or may not surprise you; if it does surprise you, it’s probably not in your best interest to use the comments to wonder about this amazing fact. (You may hazard a guess as to how many times I’ve heard the following gem: “You’re an MIT cheerleader? I didn’t even know MIT had cheerleaders. Do you cheer for the chess club?” Ha-frickin-ha.)

Varsity sports
Varsity sports are NCAA-recognized, and they practice something like 2 hours a day (although often there are optional-but-probably-not-really open gyms and free practice hours for members of the teams). We have an “activities period” from 5pm to 7pm each night, when no class activities can be held, and many varsity sports practice then.

MIT competes in Division III, which means, among other things, that you’re not going to get an athletic scholarship to MIT, and that you’re probably not going to get into MIT with a 0 on the SAT, even if you can throw a football/baseball/basketball/other projectile. Varsity sports are open only to undergraduates.

The programs at MIT vary quite a bit in the level of people who play them. In some sports, it’s possible to join and excel even if you never played in high school (crew is an obvious example, but I’ve known people who joined the football team without high school experience), but some teams are fairly stringent about tryouts and cut quite a few of the people who try out. If you’re interested in playing a varsity sport at MIT, you should fill out the recruitment form so the coach of your sport is aware of your interest in the school; your athletic talent alone won’t get you into the school, but it could help set you apart from other qualified applicants.

Club sports
Club sports are often a little more eclectic and unusual than varsity sports (figure skating, synchronized swimming, martial arts), and are usually open to both graduate students and undergraduates. Still, they’re not just cupcake activities: some club sports do have actual coaches, compete in actual competitions, and are really “actual” sports for all intents and purposes. They’re just not NCAA-recognized, and they don’t have to practice as much (cheerleading, which is a club sport, practices 6 hours a week rather than the 10 that a varsity sport would practice).

If you’re interested in a club sport, feel free to email the captains of the sport for more information — although I should warn you that we can do absolutely zilch for getting that “Accepted” stamp on your application, so emailing us and asking if we can forward your name to the admissions officers is sort of futile. But we’re happy to give information (if you email cheer-captains, you will probably get an email from me — even though I’m a captain emerita, nobody else likes to write long, detailed question-answering emails); if you’re admitted, all the club sports have booths at the Athletics Gateway at Campus Preview Weekend, so come and visit. There’s usually free pizza.

Intramural sports
Intramural sports are also big at MIT, for anybody who likes playing football/basketball/dodgeball/roller hockey but who isn’t particularly enthused about committing to joining a varsity team. There are four leagues for most IM sports, from A league, which is almost varsity-quality, to D league, which is for people with lots of enthusiasm but perhaps not so much, shall we say, talent. (I played D-league basketball my freshman year for my living group. It was super-fun, but I would never characterize myself as a good, or even mediocre, basketball player. I don’t really like having possession of the ball. I do like waving my hands around, though.)

IM teams are hosted by various living groups, offices, labs, departments, and groups of friends, and they’re open to anybody in the MIT community (undergrads, grad students, staff).

Phys ed
As I said last time, we’re required to accumulate 8 PE points while at MIT, which can be fulfilled by taking 4 PE classes or playing two seasons of varsity sports. The list of PE classes is here; as you can see, there are lots of ways to fulfill the requirement. (I hate the PE requirement — I’ve been a club athlete for four years, which has gotten me infinitely more physically educated than my four four-week phys ed classes. But I suppose the PE classes are good for me, and at any rate, nobody asked me.)

As a corollary to PE classes, there are also some very nice exercise facilities on campus, including the Z-Center on West campus and the Wang Fitness Center in/next to the Stata Center. They’re used pretty heavily, at least judging by the percentage of machines which are usually in use when I pass by.

Mens et manus in corpore sano and whatnot.

Grad school update:
As of this evening, I have interviews at Caltech, Michigan, UCLA, and UCSF (still waiting to hear from others). Three all-expenses-paid visits to California in the middle of winter! Yay!

Working my butt off for the past four years: totally worth it.

EDIT: Immediately after I hit “publish” on this entry, I got an email from UC Berkeley, inviting me to their interview weekend. So I guess that would be four all-expenses-paid visits to California thus far. :)

EDIT 2, 3:51 PM Friday: Well, Stanford just called… make that five all-expenses-paid visits to California. :D (Although Sam is right — it’s really not cold at all here right now, so it’s not like I really need to escape the weather.)

10 responses to “MIT Athletics”

  1. mike says:

    Hey, I’m maguo1, the ccer who started that thread [email protected] on cc.

    Well, I’ve filled that recruitment form out twice now, and still have gotten no response.

    Congrats on all those grad school interviews.

  2. Chris H says:

    I am a nerd athlete…or is it athletic nerd? I am the guy helping everyone with their homework in the lockeroom. I thought I was unique. But the more I read about the sports options at MIT as well as the Sports History I am convinced that only at MIT is the Nerd Athlete the norm. Is it true that only one other American University has more varsity athletes than MIT? Is it true that MIT ranks among the top 5 schools in the nation in terms of College All-Americans? I have also noticed that talking sports is almost non-existent among the bloggers. It used to be common for us nerds to be embarrassed about our GPA. Could it be that we are also uncomfortable talking about our athletic success? If I can play hockey and baseball at MIT I’ll be one extremely happy Nerd Athlete (Nerdlete?) But I’ll be even happier to meet other Nerdletes who look forward to both Study Time and Playing Time. Wish me luck.

  3. Laura says:

    Yay for California!

    Congrats, Mollie.

  4. “Mens et manus in corpore sano?”

    You just said “a mind and a hand in a sane body.” Don’t you mean “mens sana in corpore sano? (a sane mind (is) in a sane body)”

  5. Sam says:

    Congratulations Mollie! Even though it’s 58 degrees here (in January?!) I’d still much rather be in California four times in the next three months.

  6. Sukrit says:

    I second the congratulations.

  7. shen says:

    Congrats to your five nice trips to California!!! smile Hope you have a wonderful time and best of luck.

    So…what about the swim test? I’m a bit nervous, because I don’t really know how to swim (even though I live like 2 miles from the Pacific Ocean haha).

  8. Saad Zaheer says:

    hey, HI!!

    haha well five paid trips to CA, and that in winter and when you are living in Boston! WOW!!

    -Saad, D entry…

  9. Masha says:

    I think when *I* grow up, I’m going to apply to lots of CA grad schools just to get all-expenses-paid trips there in the middle of winter…


  10. Anonymous says:


    I had a question about cheerleading. I haven’t had any cheer expereince in high school, but I was wondering if it is a pre-requisite to have been a cheerleader to try out for the MIT squad.