Clare Myers, Token Student-Athlete and Resident Jack-of-all-Trades
The University of Dallas’ competitive knitting squad has officially become the most popular team on campus as the team prepares to compete in the finals of the World Knitting Championship in Bangladesh.
Excitement reached fever pitch on Friday afternoon, as students gathered in the Rat for a special viewing of the quarterfinal competition.
“You could just feel the enthusiasm buzzing throughout the room,” Student Government president-elect Christina Davis said. “The tension was palpable.”
When the team claimed victory by winning both the speed round and the style round (a “sweep” in competitive knitting), the Rat exploded with cheers.
“Never in all my years here have I seen students so fired up about a sports team,” said Father Maguire.
The team said in a statement Monday that they were buoyed by all the support.
“It’s nice to finally get some recognition,” team captain Isabel Dubert said. “As student-athletes, we sometimes feel that nobody notices our accomplishments. In this competition, having all these fans has made a huge difference.”
Competitive knitting is one of the university’s newest varsity sports programs, and by far its most popular. Dick Strockbine, the athletic director, suggested the co-ed team as a way to remedy the athletic department’s yearly struggle to comply with NCAA standards for having equal numbers of male and female athletes.
“There’s never a shortage of hopefuls for the knitting squad,” Strockbine said. “This way, we can cut as many athletes as we need to during tryouts to keep numbers equal.”
This year’s squad has seen the return of veterans such as senior Alex Lemke and junior Lauryn Green, and a few new faces. In particular, freshman Brenna Rossi’s experience with the loom has added depth to the team.
Newcomer Zach Kraus, a junior, has stepped up as a dominant force.
“Kraus really came out of nowhere,” Dubert said. “But he has become one of our best knitters, and has brought a lot of enthusiasm to the team. He even knitted all of our uniforms himself.”
In competitive knitting, the teams face off in two separate contests. There is a speed round, during which participants try to finish a sweater as quickly as possible without error, and a style round.
The Crusaders have proven to be masters of the style round, churning out innovative designs on a regular basis. Both parts of the contest are hugely popular with fans.
In fact, the UD community has jumped on the competitive knitting tailgate with enthusiasm. In response to student interest, the Rat has begun to host viewing parties for every competition.
“They’re our most well-attended events,” Aramark director Sean Doran said.
In addition, the Blue Crew has abandoned the rest of the athletic teams and has completely devoted itself to supporting the squad.
“Focusing exclusively on the knitting squad has been the best decision we’ve ever made,” Blue Crew leader Anthony Campise said.
The Blue Crew has organized a viewing party for the championship on Saturday, when the Crusaders will face off against the British National Team.
President Keefe, who describes himself as the team’s biggest fan, has offered to personally fund the free food and beer provided.
“The competitive knitting squad has become a central part of UD’s identity,” Keefe said. “I’d like to see a new advertisement for UD: 38 Fulbrights, 0 Heismans and 1 Knitting World Championship.”