All varsity and large club sports teams were challenged to complete a series of five environmentally-conscious tasks as part of a new Efficiency Initiative Team Challenge, launched this year by the Office of Sustainability and the Athletics Department. 

Although only the women’s volleyball, men’s ice hockey and squash teams have completed all five tasks as well as an Above and Beyond challenge, the initiative’s creators are optimistic about its future. 

“We have someone who is knowledgeable about a sport tailor the goals to that sport,” said Emma Chow ’15. “For men’s hockey, we can say ‘Is it doable to go trayless for a week? Is it doable to go trayless for a day?’ We want to give them something that’s achievable but still going to stretch them a little bit.”

Chow, along with fellow seniors Emi Gaal and Tori Munson and junior Lela Garner—who works directly in the sustainability office as the representative for Green Athletics—has led the challenge during its debut year. 

Green Athletics has existed since 2011, but the initiative’s founders wanted to take its mission a step further. After brainstorming the idea last spring, the group’s leaders worked out logistics with Ashmead White Director of Athletics Tim Ryan and Coordinator for a Sustainable Bowdoin Keisha Payson to finalize plans for the year.

“We all saw that there were so many tiny things that we do every day,” said Gaal. “That kind of fueled the club to begin. Just going through athletics and helping varsity athletes and some of the larger club sports participate in this program gets them thinking about these things day to day and as a group, and hopefully that is just one step for the college to move forward in changing people’s mindsets and helping understand that they can do little things.”

The tasks were decided upon at the beginning of each season and customized to fit team’s specific needs and desires. The teams’ progress is tracked on the Green Athletics website as well as on a display board in the Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness. 

In order to encourage teams to participate in the challenge, every team that completes all five challenges will be invited to a pub night featuring music and free food.

Another key feature of the challenge is its Above and Beyond component. The Above and Beyond program encourages teams and athletes to exceed their challenges’ requirements. Each Above and Beyond task is given a point value depending on its level of intensity. 

“Those are really opportunities for teams to take initiative on their own, so it would be really nice to see more teams engage in that aspect and get excited because they can do cool things like fundraisers and different events,” said Chow. 

The winners of the Above and Beyond challenge will receive a gift card for Atayne, a sustainably-sourced athletic wear company founded by a Bowdoin alumnus. The gift card is for use for the team as a whole and will further take the challenge’s step of environmental consciousness while providing incentive for teams. 

Going forward, the initiative hopes to achieve total participation, including in the Above and Beyond challenge. This would then facilitate the ultimate goal of campus-wide awareness of the issue and participation in environmentally-friendly measures. 

“I think I’m excited to have the annual award winner announced by Tim Ryan at the end of year athletic banquet, so just having athletics back us really legitimizes everything and makes teams feel more compelled to participate,” said Chow.