It’s that time of year again, the bright dawn of an awesome new semester at Marlboro, and I’m not talking about any old convocation, or registering for classes, or the first yummy community dinner. I’m talking about that most august of September rituals known as the students vs. faculty/staff softball game. That breathtaking event where community members put aside their Dostoevsky and their vector fields and their epistemological solipsism to pit their lofty brains against six ounces of kapok stuffing.
In case you didn’t know, Princeton Review ranks Marlboro as #18 among colleges for “Nobody Plays Intramural Sports,” and a whopping #10 for “There’s a Game?” When it is not broomball season, the pinnacle of Marlboro sportsmanship, most students prefer to get their exercise hiking up to the science building or seeing how many can fit on the OP stone bench. But somehow these particular students didn’t get that memo, because they turned out the most fearsome and strapping team of softball ringers that had ever pummeled a ball on Person’s field.
At least, that’s my feeble explanation for the resounding defeat of the faculty/staff team, with a final score of 8 to 20-or-30-something. John “physical capital” Rush, Marlboro’s new economics professor took a productive turn on the mound, but could not exert a normative influence on the supply of (or demand for) soaring hits by the students. Philosophy professor William “epistemology” Edelglass led the team with a competitive edge that would have made Emmanuel Kant blush, and chemistry professor Todd “kinetic energy” Smith made his mark with a three-run homer that had everyone’s electrons excited for a moment. But the faculty/staff team never quite rose to the students’ challenge, despite an generous allowance of extra outs and the rousing solo cheerleading of Kathy “pom-pom” Waters, alumni director. There’s always next year.
Imagine a white-water rafting trip that ends calamitously with two participants suffering from hypothermia, one with a sprained ankle and howling like a coyote, one with a dislocated shoulder and broken wrist, and one mysteriously wedged between two trees with a broken leg that is grotesquely gushing blood. The only participant temporarily smart enough to escape injury is heating up cocoa for her friends when the stove blows up, leaving her with third-degree burns on her face. I know you’re thinking I have some whacky, morose imagination, and I do, but this would all be very easy to picture if you were part of the Wilderness First Responder training workshop taking place on campus this week.
Compound fractures, anaphylactic shock, heat exhaustion: you name it, you can find it in Marlboro’s verdant woods this week. Run by the Wilderness Medical Association, with support from our very own Outdoor Program, the weeklong WFR workshop is awesome training in first aid, leadership, and gory special effects for anyone who works in remote locations. A bumper crop of 21 outdoor educators, guides, and other kinds of nature-loving professionals are learning to splint, staunch, bandage, carry, and console outdoorsy victims in the most desperate straits. Seven participants are stalwart Marlboro students, preparing for their role as Bridges orientation trip leaders next fall.
Did I mention that one of the paddlers with hypothermia is also diabetic and not responding to treatment because he is in hypoglycemic shock? And the youth who brought the rescuers to the scene is breaking out in hives and having trouble breathing? I tell you, this is any trip leader’s worst nightmare, short of a zombie apocalypse, and these WFR trainees handle it all with the confidence and composure of seasoned first responders. I would put my compound fracture in any of their hands, as soon as I get over the impression that they are all a little accident-prone.