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Sports

‘Against all odds’: Baraka Bouts has successful season despite pandemic

| Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Although the fall semester was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Baraka Bouts Club of Notre Dame still found a way to have a very successful season and raise money for their mission statement despite not having their usual end of the year tournament.

Meg Guilfoile, a senior captain from Duxbury, Massachusetts, commented on how the club was able to stay motivated during the fall despite not having the end-of-season tournament to train for.

“We really tried to reframe how we looked at the season, and fundraising has always been the core of [Baraka and Bengal Bouts],” Guilfoile said. “I think we all agree that it is the most important at the end of the day. It helped us to remember why we are boxing and why we’re part of the club.”

Guilfoile also explained how the season gave a lot of new club members the opportunity to feel more comfortable and learn how to box before participating in the tournament.

“I think it gave a lot of people the opportunity where if people were nervous or scared to physically box and be a part of the tournament, it was a great year for them to just try it out,” Guilfoile said. “And so I think just focusing on the missions and making that the core of this season definitely helped us.”

Senior Alexis Driscoll, a captain from Morristown, New Jersey, also emphasized the importance of new members this season.

“There are so many girls who don’t want to actually get in the ring,” Driscoll said. “And this year, we really just made it about them, and we told them all the pros of joining the club, aside from the tournament.”

In a typical year, Baraka Bouts typically raises about $20,000 from tournament tickets alone. One of the challenges for the club this year was finding a way to fundraise money for the club’s mission in Bangladesh without having the tournament.

Ultimately, the club decided to do a run-a-thon event to raise money. For the event, it was expected that each club member raised a minimum of $300 by making friends and family members pledge a certain amount of money to donate based on how much they could run in a week.

The club ended up raising a total of $14,000 from the run-a-thon in October 2020, which was a huge success.

“We were really lucky,” Guilfoile said. “We had no idea what the success was gonna be like, because it was the first time we had ever done it. We kind of did make up for what we would have made at the tournament, in some regards, through that. We were really lucky, and it was very fun.”

Going into the season, the club set a lofty goal of raising $50,000 for the year, which seemed like a difficult task in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guilfoile discussed how scary that goal seemed at first, and how the club began to embrace the challenge as the season went on.

“We were really nervous about reaching that goal, and we knew it was going to be the most challenging thing that a lot of us would do,” Guilfoile said. “It was kind of a theme of the season, and we would always say ‘against all odds’ because all of the odds were against us our entire season with getting around the COVID restrictions. We got a lot of no’s on things that we wanted to do.”

Guilfoile shared that her favorite memory from this past season was the day the club reached that goal of $50,000.

“I was actually in class, and my phone started going off like crazy. I quickly looked at it, and it was just all of the captains texting that we got to the goal,” Guilfoile said. “I embarrassingly sat in class, and I just started crying because I was so excited. It was such a fun moment to go to practice that day and celebrate with all the captains. All the hard work paid off against all the odds.”

The club also held an event called “Baraka-thon” in place of the tournament that usually occurs at the end of the year.

Driscoll shared that the Baraka-thon was her favorite memory from the 2020 season.

“We had a push-up competition and a plank competition,” Driscoll said. “And over those few days, all of the boxers kind of got to hang out and show off all their skills. I just remember one of those days, everyone was just having so much fun, and we were playing music.”

Senior captain Ellie McCarthy, who is originally from Basking Ridge, New Jersey, shared that her favorite memory from her time as a part of the club was two years ago on a team fundraising run in the cold, rainy October weather.

“We always do fun runs on Friday for practice, and we run around campus and do workouts on different quads. We try to bring a bucket, and we try to get donations,” McCarthy said. “And this particular day, it was pouring rain. It was late October, it was so cold, and nobody was out. I think we raised like $20, but all of the girls were just having an absolute blast. And it just shows the camaraderie of the club, which I think that’s what it’s all about, really.”

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About Nate Moller

Nate is a junior majoring in chemical engineering. He is originally from a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota and is currently living in Siegfried Hall. Some of his passions include running, cross country skiing, and getting too worked up about Notre Dame and Minnesota sports teams.

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