The Black Fly running team include College of the Atlantic students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. PHOTO COURTESY OF DARRON COLLINS

College of the Atlantic partners with Crow Athletics, creates running team

BAR HARBOR — College of the Atlantic and Crow Athletics recently announced a new partnership, the Black Fly running team. The partnership is intended to help create an enhanced environment for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of COA to become involved in running as part of an informal team atmosphere.

“We believe deeply in helping students develop the fullest sense of their intellects, including the kinesthetic,” said Darron Collins, the college’s president and an alumnus himself. “Running can be one of the most powerful ways of developing that intellect and you would be hard pressed to find a better place to run on the East Coast than you find here on Mount Desert Island.

“With this partnership with Crow Athletics, we are reimagining what college athletics can mean; that is, we want to bring athletics into the learning environment and also help athletics shape community sustainability and engagement.”

A COA Blackflies relay team competed in the 2017 MDI Marathon. PHOTO COURTESY OF DARRON COLLINS

The new team will officially be called “Black Fly” named for the college mascot adopted by the COA Black Fly Society that was first established as a way for donors to support the college.

Immediate goals include attracting more student, faculty, staff, and alumni athletes, as well as co-organizing running events and co-hosting groups runs starting from the COA campus.

Team benefits include free membership into Crow Athletics for all students, as well as a complimentary one-year membership for faculty, staff, alumni, family and friends of COA. Discounts on local races and gear are also included.

Mary Ropp, a 2009 graduate and co-organizer of many Crow Athletics events, said she is excited to help create a meaningful relationship between the two organizations.

“My time at COA, both in and out of the classroom, was profoundly life-changing,” she said. “My internship with the Mount Desert Island Marathon evolved into a part-time job that became the focus of my senior project, which has culminated in a full-time career in event management.

“None of this would be possible without COA’s self-directed, action-oriented, and value-driven philosophy that continues to have an indelible impact on both my work and myself.”

Crow Athletics has steadily grown from its 1991 founding on MDI to become one of the county’s most recognized running clubs. Events include the award-winning Mount Desert Island Marathon and the Millinocket Marathon, which has helped transform a struggling mill town in Northern Maine into a nationally recognized endurance sports destination.

“We have always believed in our ability to inspire, to activate, and to empower. This partnership is a wonderful collaboration that will absolutely create even more positive ripples,” said Gary Allen, a founding member of Crow Athletics. “In this vein we are always looking for forward thinking organizations and companies who’d love to work with us as supporters, sponsors and more!”

The official Black Fly team gear is made by Maine-based company Atayne. Since 2013, Atayne has been named a “Best for the Environment” and “Best for the World” company by B Lab, which certifies companies that meet high standards for environmental and social responsibility.

“We are delighted to partner with another Maine-based organization like COA, which is truly walking their talk,” said Rebecca Darr of Atayne. “With this new partnership, they’ll be running their talk as in ‘Run Hard. Tread Lightly,’ one of Atayne’s earliest designs in our progressively made gear.”

Students, faculty, alumni and friends of COA are encouraged to learn more or join the team. Visit

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