When we think of the liberal arts, we typically think of activities that primarily take place in the mind and the imagination, arts corresponding to the fundamental verbal and mathematical disciplines of grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy.
While the traditional subjects of the liberal arts are not in doubt, this characterization is incomplete. (One can, after all, study these subjects in an illiberal way.) Another essential characteristic of the liberal arts is that these arts are studied for their own sake. It is this feature that marks the athletic clubs and activities at Magdalen College: we engage in them for relaxation, restoration, leisure, and the building-up of friendship and community. These are noble ends conducive to higher purposes.
And no doubt the ancient Greeks would approve. Among ancient writers on education, Plato described education as consisting of two basic disciplines: music and gymnastics. Both categories include far more than the terms currently designate, but they indicate an important understanding of the need for an education that includes attention to the body and the benefits that a healthy body contributes to a mind open to learning.
And how much more would we, who live after the Incarnation, affirm this attention to our embodied nature.
It is in this spirit, that Magdalen College offers the following clubs:
Founded in 2018 with an initial voyage on Lake Sunapee, the Magdalen College Rowing Club begins its formal training in the spring of 2019. The club will practice on the water each week before classes and during the winter months students will stay fit with two ergs (indoor rowing machines). The club will compete in the spring and finish the season with an invitational competition in May.
Nestled at the base of Mt. Kearsarge and just miles from the White Mountains, the Magdalen College campus is the ideal location for an active hiking club. Members of the club undertake a range of moderate to advanced hikes, the most advanced being the Franconia Ridge Mountain Range, an eight-mile hike. Other locations near campus include Rollins St. Park, Mt. Sunapee, Mine Falls Park, and others. The students hike in the spirit of their patron, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, who once said “The higher we go, the better we shall hear the voice of Christ.”
With an average annual snow fall that is rivaled by only six other states and a free ski-pass for all students, the four years of study at Magdalen College are also the perfect time to enjoy skiing and snowboarding. The college provides multiple and regular shuttles to Pat’s Peak and with a valid student ID, students can rent ski gear for only $10 and enjoy unlimited free lift access. In addition to skiing, snowtubing is also available free of charge on Fridays and Saturdays.
Other local ski resorts include: Abenaki Ski Area, Black Mountain, Bretton Woods, Cannon Mountain, Cranmore Mountain Resort, Dartmouth Skiway, Eastman Cross Country, Granite Gorge Ski Area, Great Glen Trails, Gunstock Mountain Resort, King Pine At Purity Spring Resort, Loon Mountain, McIntyre Ski Area, Mount Sunapee, Pats Peak, Ragged Mountain, Sunset Hill Nordic Center, Waterville Valley Resort, and Cross Country Skiing.
The Magdalen College running club is active from August to early November with a variety of moderate to difficult runs at least three-times a week. Members of the club run shorter distances at the beginning of the year and increase their mileage as the year progresses. The club accommodates early-morning risers with consistent morning runs, as well as the night owls, with evening runs. Members of the club compete in the annual Warner Fall Foliage Festival five-mile race.
Throughout the year the students participate in regular tournaments and pick-up games in a variety of sports including soccer, basketball, volleyball, softball, and hockey. In the fall the students play at least ten games of soccer on our full-size outdoor soccer field overlooking the beautiful Mink Hills. Volleyball—played in our expanded gym—is a much-loved game played in the evenings after classes and homework, bringing together students from all different skill levels. Students also use the local recreational field to play co-ed games of softball.
Hockey is played both in our gym throughout the winter as well as on an ice pond that is utilized for hockey and skating in the winter months. (The college has a collection of ice skates for the students to borrow.)
This club consists of two tracks. The first alternates between ballet, contemporary, and jazz classes in the St. Mary’s residence once a week. The second is offered in the gym for both men and woman twice a week. The theme for the second track during 2018-2019 academic year consists in learning iconic dances from musicals, in which students learn famous numbers that they grew up watching on stage and on the screen and would like to learn themselves.
The defensive Mixed Martial Arts Club trains three times per week in Hookset, New Hampshire, learning self-defense techniques such as striking, grappling (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu), and kickboxing. Through a partnership with Tokyo Joes Martial Arts Studio, Magdalen College students pay a modest membership fee of $30 a month.
This Irish Step Dancing Club meets twice a week, for an hour. On Wednesday mornings the club gathers to rehearse the hornpipe jig in soft-shoe reels and on Monday mornings they gather to learn a special hard shoe jig.