Earlier last month, the Mediocre Athlete Program published their inaugural video on Quest’s Facebook page, provoking feelings of both intimidation and excitement among the student body.
The program aims to diminish the sense of exclusivity and intimidation that comes with being a beginner in a sport while simultaneously putting the spotlight on under-recognized athletes in the community. “[There is] such a large spectrum of talent in the student body that the club works to include,” said second-year student Will Long, one of the program’s founders.
The program was started last year by second-year student Aidan Franscioni. The program, Franscioni said, is partly a self-deprecating joke, but also “aims to showcase individuals with high levels of stoke for what they’re doing.” Franscioni said that although the name is a tongue-in-cheek jab at the name of the Elite Athlete Program, they greatly respect the elite athletes.
In November, the Mediocre Athletes Program released a trailer on Facebook highlighting the program and several student athletes from Quest. In the video, students skied over snowless, logged areas and on dirt roads, fell off of a slackline strung between two cliffs, and went over waterfalls in kayaks. The video was meant to be a collection of outtakes, yet many of the athletes demonstrated a high level of skill.
Second-year student Marijn Kuizenga, who appeared in one of the slacklining segments in the video, expressed excitement about the program’s mission. “The Mediocre Athlete Program is providing a good platform for people who have a genuine passion for the outdoors to share their experiences without having to be a professional,” he said.
“One of the reasons I came to Quest was to learn as much as possible about the outdoor sports that I just started to get into,” Kuizenga added. “I have never felt intimidated. I actually felt rather excited!”
First-year student Critty Carson, a snowboarder and Elite Athlete, expressed excitement about the Mediocre Athlete Program. Carson explained he is most excited about how accepting people are. “Everyone is so stoked to see you try something new regardless of your experience,” he said. “That’s a pretty incredible thing to find in any community.”
The need for this program is reflected in the sentiments of novice athletes who experience feelings of intimidation when starting new sports. “When you don’t know a thing about skiing and all your friends talk about is skiing, there’s a disconnect and it’s hard to engage,” said first-year student Sadie Ainsworth.
“I don’t always feel comfortable going out [for sports] because I know that everyone is so good,” said first-year Camila Böhrt. “People are very friendly and nice, but I am not at their skill level so I feel intimidated.” The Mediocre Athlete Program has the potential to create space for beginner athletes to embrace failure and try new things.
Franscioni mentioned that the program aims to publish another edit at the end of the year, and welcomes all athletes to submit videos. As the Mediocre Athlete Program expands, he hopes it will provoke a broader shift in athletic culture at Quest.