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Wonderful article by Tim Layden ’78 about former basketball coach Curt Tong.
The list was taped to the wall in a dark corner of an old college gymnasium, the kind with a running track overhanging the corners of the playing surface. The wall was made of ancient, yellowed stones, lacquered for preservation; the paper was a single, unlined white sheet, affixed to the bricks with slices of clear tape. Even nearing midday, there was barely enough light to read the printing on the page, listing the names of those who had earned the right to play on the varsity basketball team at Williams College during the upcoming season.
It was late in the fall of 1976. I was a junior at Williams, a small D-III liberal arts school in Massachusetts, and had been a member of the team the previous year. I had played little in games, and never when the outcome was in doubt. I was slow-footed, with a tenuous handle, but I could score if not guarded too closely and I was a good teammate and a hard worker. Without being told so, I was certain that my position on the roster was safe until graduation. This was a miscalculation. On the previous night there had been an intrasquad scrimmage, ostensibly giving players a last opportunity to prove themselves worthy of inclusion, or to cut themselves by exposing their weaknesses. Time has dulled the memory of that night, but I didn’t convince my coach that I was significantly better than the bench player I had been the year before. And in retrospect, I most certainly was not.
Therefore, the next day my name wasn’t on the list. I stood frozen at the wall for a long time, repeatedly scanning up and down, trying to blink back the tears that were stinging my eyes and making me feel ashamed. A few of the guys silently patted me on the shoulder, but I waited for all of them to leave before turning to face the daylight. I was 20 years old and my entire self-worth was wrapped up in being an athlete. Now that was gone. I would never again wear a uniform with a genuine name on the front (“Freight Heads,” my trucking company-sponsored team in an Albany, New York rec league, is not a genuine name). I was adrift. There is nothing in sports quite like being cut, and nothing quite like the cut that tells an athlete that he has officially bumped up against his own personal ceiling. This is as true of the little boy (or girl) who doesn’t make the high school freshman team as it is of Jimmer Fredette in the NBA. You never forget that cut, even as life piles on more important crises, failures and tragedies, as life will inevitably do, and has. Three decades after I was cut, my daughter enrolled at Williams and we walked through the gym, which was no longer used for varsity games. The wall was still there, the bricks were still a pale, shiny yellow. There was no list, but I could see it just the same. I had to take a minute to gather myself.
As do we all.
On that morning in 1976, as players looked at the list on the wall, my coach sat on the windowsill across the gym floor. His office was only a few feet away, but he sat out in the open where anyone with a gripe could visit without being forced to rap his knuckles on the door. That was a professional touch and it couldn’t have been pleasant. The coach’s name was Curtis Whitfield Tong. Curt. Coach Tong. He was 42 years old and had been, at that point, a college basketball coach for 12 years—nine at Otterbein College in Ohio and three at Williams. I walked across the gym and sat next to him. My father had long drilled it into my head to always be a gentleman, and to always take defeat with class, so I told Coach Tong that I understood why he cut me (which was true, but in my immature youth, I didn’t resent him any less for doing it). Coach Tong thanked me for my hard work, told me I was a good player, just not quite good enough. Promised me there would be better days ahead. We shook hands. I walked out of the gym, cried for a few hours and then got drunk for a week.
The purpose of all this musty storytelling, from a very mediocre player, long grown old?
Coach Tong died on January 16 at a nursing home in Massachusetts. He was 82 years old and succumbed to complications of Alzheimer’s disease, which had afflicted him in the latter years of a very rich and full life. He left behind his wife of 58 years, the former Wavalene Kumler, whom everyone knows as Jinx. They met in college and stayed together, a love story. They had three children, accomplished and successful adults who had seven children of their own, and last spring, Curt’s and Jinx’s first great-grandchild, a little girl named Martha. They are a close and beautiful family. Curt coached 18 years at Otterbein and Williams, with a combined record of 242 wins and 141 losses. In 1983, at the age of 49, Curt left Williams to become the athletic director at Pomona-Pitzer, two small California liberal arts colleges that share an athletic department. He spent the last 16 years of his career there, before retiring in 1998. In 2010, he published a memoir, Child Of War, describing in harrowing detail the three years he spent as a child in a World War II Japanese internment camp in the Philippines, where his parents were missionaries.
Read the whole thing.
Those are the details, and they are important details. They are a life’s work, in and out of the office. On and off the court. But details never tell the full story of a coach’s life, because a coach—a teacher, by any measure—is more than the sum of his life’s accomplishments. A coach is his own life, and every life he has ever touched, his words and his lessons melting down through generations, outliving him by decades. Coaches expire every day, but they never die. They live forever.
If your players remember you with even 1% of the detail and fondness with which Layden remembers Tong, then you will have been an excellent coach indeed.
Condolences to all.
Most heart-warming Eph news story of the year:
A couple of weeks ago, Parker Langenback had no clue what the game of lacrosse was all about, and Kevin Stump, a first-year member of the Williams College Men’s Lacrosse Team had no clue about how the birth defect spinal bifida could affect a person’s life.
But on Tuesday evening, the Langenback family and the lacrosse team signed on for a two-year commitment to learn about and support one another, through a social sports initiative called Team Impact.
Now 6 years old, but turning 7 at the end of the month, Parker is a first-grader at Williamstown Elementary School, located about a mile from where the lacrosse team practices at Farley-Lamb Field. He lives in town with his parents, Melissa and Rob Langenback, and his 3-year-old brother, Sawyer.
Read the whole thing. Kudos to all involved!
Parker Langenback is now an Eph, at least in the eyes of EphBlog! And, by the transitive property, so are his parents and his brother. With luck, he and they will be part of the lacrosse team for years to come.
In a story which has been woefully un(der)reported on Ephblog, the Williams men’s basketball team upset Middlebury 79-75 last weekend to advance to the Division 3 Final Four. The win, after Middlebury crushed the Ephs in the NESCAC title game a few weeks ago by 22 points, must have been very satisfying to the team (as evidenced by the picture above, courtesy of the Men’s Basketball page on the Williams website). A complete rundown on the game may be found here, but it appears that the Ephs rode hot 3-point shooting and tough defense to this weekend’s event in Salem, Virginia. Congrats to the team! Anyone planning on going?
Nice blurb in the Washington Post’s Sports Bog today about Dave Paulsen ’87 and how he reacted to an unexpected visit from Spike Lee to his team’s meeting recently. The opening paragraph of the story sets the stage nicely:
Dave Paulsen had his George Mason team at attention last Saturday morning and was ready to tell them about embracing the process. There was a basketball element to his talk — about not being obsessively results-driven, about not living and dying on every shot, about accepting coaching and enjoying hard work — but it also tied into the upcoming second semester, and how the Patriots needed to embrace their academics with a certain verve.
The rest of the story is worth reading for a few minutes. A quick perusal of the comments to the post shows lots of love for Dave, who is getting good reviews here at George Mason. I wonder if he ever gave any serious consideration to staying at Williams? I suspect the money available at Division 1 schools was simply too much to pass up, not to mention the professional challenge of succeeding at a higher level of basketball.
When I first arrived at Williams in September 1986, Williams had an experienced and well-respected head football coach, named Bob Odell. I did not see any of the games that season (or really any others during my time in Williamstown) because I was always playing rubgy on Saturdays, but I always tried to make it to the Williams-Amherst game. In November 1986, I saw Williams lose 10-7 to Amherst. Little did I know that that game would be the last Williams loss to Amherst for 14 years, and would also be Coach Odell’s last game. Bob Farley took over in 1987, and had an amazing run as the head coach.
I really hadn’t given Coach Odell much thought in decades until a few weeks ago, when I ran into someone who, spotting me in a Williams sweatshirt, told me he had been recruited by Coach Odell, though he ended up going elsewhere. We chatted for a while, and he said that Bob Odell was the runner-up for the Heisman trophy when he played in college. That really surprised me, so I poked around for a while and found that indeed Bob Odell, then a running back at Penn, had finished second in the Heisman Trophy in 1943. Turns out he also won the Maxwell Award in 1943 as college football player of the year.
I assume that Coach Odell’s extremely accomplished playing career was known to many when I was at Williams, but it was news to me. Are there other long-standing Williams employees with prestigious professional awards which are little known on campus?
A (well-informed?) commentator claims that Mark Raymond from St. Lawrence will be the new Eph football coach. Comments:
1) I wish that they had hired an Eph, or at least someone, like basketball coach Kevin App, with ties to the region. Williams should try to hire coaches that want to spend the rest of their careers with us.
2) I wish that they had hired someone more experience with (and who took more enjoyment in?) dealing with smart players. Eph coaches should be intellectuals, should be quoting poetry and arguing philosophy with the players. Want to improve the intellectual climate at Williams? Hire more intellectuals!
Note that these comments could be unfair. Perhaps Raymond was born in Williamstown! Perhaps he writes poetry on weekends! We can only hope.
Any other rumors?
Good overview of potential candidates for football coach from The Berkshire Eagle:
Williams College athletic director Lisa Melendy says she has an idea of what she’s looking for in a football coach.
Melendy is beginning the search to replace Aaron Kelton, who stepped down Wednesday after six seasons at the Eph helm.
“I think we’re looking for what we’re looking for in all of our Williams coaches,” she said. “Somebody who understands teaching and coaching at a small liberal arts college, who’s a teacher first.
“He’s going to put together a staff. It’s a big program, and he needs to be able to put it all together.”
Melendy said a search committee will be formed and she will lead the committee. The athletic director said it will be a “national search.”
1) One of the great perks of working for a rich institution is a lack of accountability. Will Melendy suffer a loss of pay or prestige or perks for hiring Kelton? Of course not! Will anyone doubt that, maybe, Williams should have preened less about hiring the first African-American NESCAC football coach and investigate more whether or not Kelton was competent? Probably not. Hiring incompetent minorities (Bernard Moore, Aaron Kelton) is never a problem because Diversity is our godhead.
2) That said, perhaps Melendy deserves credit for letting Kelton go. Was there some pressure on her to keep him? I had heard a rumor, from a former player, just a few weeks ago that his contract had been extended for one year. True?
3) For all the doubts that EphBlog has expressed about Melendy in the past, she did a fine job in selecting the mens basketball coach Kevin App, a former Williams assistant with a wife from the area. Williams should always hire coaches with strong Williams ties, people for whom the College is a dream destination, not a stepping stone.
The Eagle provides a good overview of such candidates below. Who would our readers favor?
Football Coach Aaron Kelton is leaving.
Aaron Kelton has always said football is tough. But nothing was as tough as when Kelton stood before the Williams College football team members to tell them he would not be returning as head coach.
Kelton and the college announced Wednesday that the would not be returning to coach at Williams, in order to pursue other opportunities.
“We care about each other in that room, so it was really hard,” Kelton said in a phone interview Wednesday night. “Certainly it was different for them, because for the first time, they won’t know who’s going to be out in front of the program. These are kids that were recruited by me and the rest of the staff, and we spent a lot of time together.
Rest of article below the break. Commentary later.
Henry “Pat” Hoysradt, a non-graduate member of the Class of 1941, passed away in August.
It’s unusual for us to profile a non-graduate Eph here at EphBlog, particularly one who withdrew voluntarily, but Hoysradt is one of the handful of professional baseball players who attended Williams College. Sure, as ably chronicled by Rory Costello ’84 – nine Ephs in the late 19th century and early 20th century played in the major leagues. Since that time, notwithstanding the important place of the 1859 Williams-Amherst game in baseball history, only a handful of Ephs have even eked out minor-league careers.
From the Poughkeepsie Journal:
A true Yankee to the core, Pat played four years of professional baseball with the Yankee Organization from 1938-1941. A standout athlete with a promising baseball career ahead of him, as a young man Pat moved on to establish his farm and build a family with his wife, Helen, that has grown to over 25 grandchildren and great-grandchildren today. His love of baseball continued as a dedicated fan of the New York Yankees; Pat could discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their roster in great detail from the days of Maris and Mantle to the final weeks of his life.
After starring for his rural New York state high school squad, Hoysradt enrolled at the Berkshire School as his gateway to Williams. Arriving in Williamstown in 1937, Hoysradt played in the outfield for a powerful freshman nine for the Ephs in the spring of 1938.
The freshmen squad played Albany Academy, Hotchkiss, Williston, and Deerfield before a pair of Little Three games against Wesleyan and Amherst. Hoysradt received repeated offers from the Yankees to sign with them and join their farm system, and after showcasing his talents at the college level, he finally signed.
By the spring of 1939, Hoysradt was the player-manager for the Class C Amsterdam Rugmakers of the Canadian-American Baseball League (Hoysradt’s Class C time also included a stint with the Akron Yankees), where, in the home opener, he singled, doubled, and homered. It was an important game, because the Yankees chief scout was in attendance, and Hoysradt ultimately led the Rugmakers to the league pennant, batting .351 with 14 home runs and 14 triples. On September 1, 1939 — a day remembered for other things — the Amsterdam Recorder-News announced that Hoysradt had been promoted to Class A Binghamton, and his career looked to be taking off. In fact, Hoysradt earned a picture in Life Magazine in October 1939 as part of a feature on the Yankees minor leagues: “Best Young Baseballers Are Almost All Owned By Yankee Farm System.” Those featured alongside Hoysradt included future Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto.
But it was not to be. In 1940, Hoysradt was instead sent to the Norfolk Tars of the Class B Piedmont League, and by the end of the season, he was back in Class C ball, at the Yankees farm club in Akron. His 1941 season had a promising start, as he was placed with Binghamton in spring training. Then the “slippery ladder” of minor league systems struck. As Hoysradt later explained in an interview with historian David Pietrusza:
They had me batting clean-up all spring and I batted .500, but they sent me down to Norfolk… They wanted to make room for someone who had been up and down with New York and Newark, and now he was going to Binghamton. It took away my desire, and I left after a few weeks. That’s my only regret. I wish I had been given a chance with Binghamton.
Hoysradt’s minor league career statistics can be viewed here.
His obituary also notes the importance of family in shaping the end to his baseball career. Minor league baseball today is a hard environment for a family man. Imagine it in 1941.
Condolences to Hoysradt’s friends and family. Pat, we wish Williams had known you better!
2001 Tennis National Champions (Sports Information photo)
Back during college decision season, tennisrecruiting.net ran a nice interview with Lex Urban ’04, a two-time national champion and captain of the Men’s Tennis team while at Williams. In the course of answering a few questions, Urban’s recollections will be familiar to the thousands of Ephs who participated in team sports, and highlight both the value of athletics to a Williams education…
Q: What were the biggest challenges of moving from the USTA juniors to NCAA Tennis?
A: I think the biggest challenge was figuring out how to reconcile individual achievement with team success. College tennis is so different from juniors because you are playing for your team first and then yourself. At the same time, you are competing with your teammates for lineup spots – but you also have to try and bond with them in order to help the team perform better. Trying to find the balance between competitiveness and team unity was one of the biggest challenges, and most crucial to a team’s success (along with talent obviously!). Our team was highly competitive on the court, but we ultimately supported one another off of it. Finding that balance is no easy feat and requires a certain level of selflessness that some people just do not have.
…and one of the most common concerns raised about the role of sports in the Williams community:
Ten years removed – wow, I’m old! – from my last match, my teammates are still some of my closest friends.
Today, after attending law school at Catholic University, Urban is a senior litigation associate in the Washington DC office of Cadwalader. Urban undoubtedly benefits from his team experience at Williams — an educational experience which is hard to replace through academic, or even other extracurricular, components.
But many Ephs also worry that the very nature of that valuable experience segregates the Williams campus, creating pockets of exclusion around individual teams and an overall divide between athletes and non-athletes — and it’s quite natural for the bonds forged among teammates to be among the strongest and most enduring we have. This perception, however, can turn off some otherwise talented candidates, as in this College Confidential thread last year:
I was initially attracted to Williams upon word of its renowned art history program… with all the resources available, it seems that such an art culture would flourish— but Williams seems to be labeled consistently as a “rich, white jock school” … so I wonder what it would be like to study art at such a school? …
Could anyone here describe the atmosphere at Williams? Is there a large enough critical mass for a successful and active art culture? If so, is the student body heavily polarized across arts and athletics? (As I doubt there are many who are actively involved in both.)
(Fortunately, responses to that thread painted Williams in a favorable light — even citing EphBlog favorite Kirk Varnedoe ’67)
One of the great things about Division III athletics is that sportsmanship is usually valued as greatly as winning. No one would draw the same conclusion about professional sports, however, and the release of conclusions about DeflateGate unfortunately confirms this. Worse, two of the team leaders at the center of the misconduct are products of the Little Three.
The long-awaited Wells Report, investigating allegations that the New England Patriots cheated by deliberately deflating footballs used by their offense, has been released, and it doesn’t make team president Jonathan Kraft ’86 (a current Williams trustee) or Bill Belichick (Wesleyan ’75) look like effective leaders.
Kraft has been trying to step out of the shadow if his father, team owner Robert Kraft, as described in a somewhat-unflattering, mid-DeflateGate article in the Boston Globe:
He may lack some of his father’s charisma and taste for celebrity. His temper may run hotter, as those he has verbally accosted over perceived slights have discovered. And he has yet to embrace the virtues of forgiveness: He remains highly contemptuous of the politicians and pundits he believes have wronged him in the past 20 years.
But on the day of Jonathan Kraft’s succession, the dynasty will pass to a sharp-edged chief executive whose focus rarely wavers from his father’s passions: family, philanthropy, and making it big in business, whether it’s recycling cardboard or chasing Super Bowl titles.
Kraft declined to speak publicly for this story… [a]ssociates indicated he is wary of being portrayed as a prince-in-waiting.
Two Sundays ago, millions of television viewers could have misjudged Kraft as that silver-spooned prince when CBS zoomed in on the owner’s box during the AFC Championship game.
The camera caught Secretary of State John F. Kerry leaning forward from his second-row seat to share a few words with Robert Kraft. The younger Kraft was sitting next to his father, wolfing popcorn and displaying no interest in the conversation.
Kraft is the team president; it’s unlikely he was involved in decisions about whether to break the rules by altering game equipment. But the Patriots repeatedly and publicly insisted that they would cooperate fully with the NFL’s investigation, as part of a media campaign that featured Robert Kraft demanding an apology from the league. The Wells Report makes clear that the Patriots didn’t deliver:
[T]he Patriots . . . refused to make Jim McNally [the equipment handler at the center of the alteration of the footballs] available for a follow-up interview requested by our investigative team on . . . important topics, despite our offer to meet at any time and location that would be convenient for McNally. Counsel for the Patriots apparently refused even to inform McNally of our request. We believe the failure by the Patriots and its counsel to produce McNally for the requested follow-up interview violated the club’s obligations to cooperate with the investigation under the Policy on Integrity of the Game & Enforcement of League Rules and was inconsistent with public statements made by the Patriots pledging full cooperation . . .
Similarly, although Tom Brady appeared for a requested interview . . . he declined to make available any documents or . . . text messages and emails that we requested. . . . Our inability to review contemporaneous communications and other documents in Brady’s possession . . . limited the discovery of relevant evidence.
The Wells Report lays the blame for the Patriots conduct at the feet of Tom Brady and the team’s equipment personnel. Its scope was limited to investigating the AFC Championship Game, in which the Patriots thoroughly dismantled the Indianapolis Colts, and would likely have done so without assistance from deflated balls. Thus, it didn’t consider whether the Patriots also deflated balls the previous week, when they rallied from behind and narrowly escaped the Baltimore Ravens.
Understandably, Ravens fans are furious, and there are reasons to believe that the Patriots’ actions reflect a broader culture of cheating — for example, the opposing team alerted the NFL and its officials to the possibility of tampering with the footballs before the game, suggesting they (or other teams) had noticed a pattern of conduct in the past by New England. And of course, the Patriots were disciplined a few years ago for breaking the rules by videotaping opposing teams’ signals.
As members of the Eph community, we like to root for the success of other Ephs, whether in politics, sports, science, or the arts. But we expect Ephs to meet our standards when they do. Kraft’s leadership so far has failed to meet those standards.
I love local news stories like this.
In a large signing ceremony at Bernards High School on Feb. 18, 20 Mountaineer athletes signed letters of intent.
Carter Gilpin will play lacrosse at Merrimack College, while lacrosse teammate Declan Swartwood signed with St. John’s. Emma TenBarge will play lacrosse at Williams College.
1) Of course, there are no “letters of intent” from Williams College, as there are in Division I. This sometimes flummoxes high schools intent on holding these ceremonies, so they hand out pretend pieces of paper to Williams-bound students while other students sign actual documents.
2) “TenBarge” is a cool name. Unfortunately, Ancestry.com has so polluted the Google search results with their SEO that I can’t find any references to its etymology. Pointers?
3) Welcome to Emma TenBarge ’19! Women’s lacrosse has had a tough start to the year and could use some help.
Hat tip to @EphTweets for the link.
From David Fehr:
I could have predicted the 7-2 start to our season but thought the “2” would have been road losses to Wesleyan and Springfield. We won both of those but opened the season with really hideous home losses to Southern VT and SUNY-Oneonta.
The schedule is screwy. Only 10 home games; four of the ten in the first 11 days of the season but then, following the MCLA game on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the Ephs are not at home for 45 days until Trinity and Amherst on January 9 & 10. Can’t remember a gap any where near that long. The consolation (for those of us willing to drive a little) was that after Thanksgiving we played three games in four nights in the Albany area. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth – lots of Big Macs on NY Route 7. And if you want to spend a week after Christmas in Eastern Mass., we play out there three times in six days.
I termed the season-opening losses “hideous.” 35% shooting and 21 turnovers v. S. VT and v. Oneonta, 9-for-33 3-point shooting, missing about 10 layups and being out rebounded by 12. We had a good overtime win at Wesleyan despite being badly beaten (again) on the glass because Daniel Wohl played 44 minutes and had a 25-14 double-double as he, Greenman and Rooke-Ley all were over 20. I missed the Springfield game and couldn’t understand how we won (shot just 33% and were outrebounded by 53-38). Then I saw it: Ephs made 8 more 3s than the Pride and we had just 4 turnovers. Shades of 2003 Final Four.
The big news on the court has been senior Hayden Rooke-Ley. He’s getting national recognition (nicely covered on the Williams’ website): The U.S. Basketball Writers Association is naming, for the first time, a D3 National Player of the Week and the first man ever named was our Hayden. The NCAA basketball website did a profile on Hayden as well after he set a new Division 3 record by opening the year by making 67 consecutive free throws (and, as he made his last 11 last year, 78 in a row over two seasons). Hayden is 97.2% from the line in 9 games. He’s not the only Eph who can make them: The team, at 85.0%, is second in the country (Wheaton [IL] is 86.6%).
But Hayden also shoots the three ball. Our first win of the season was over a really, really bad Johnson State (VT) team (Williams by 35). Rooke–Ley took 15 shots, all from beyond the arc in the corner. He made 12 to set a new Williams record. He seemed to be unguarded on all 15. Hayden said (he was in a class I audited) “They must have seen my stat line from the Oneonta game [a woeful 0-9] and decided to leave me alone.”
But he really went nuts at RPI, scoring 31 points in the first half and 43 for the game. I charted his shooting: He opened the game making his first five shots, 2 driving layups and then 3 3-pointers. A missed layup was followed by a made 3, a missed 3, 4 straight made 3s, a missed 3 and a made 3 before the buzzer. 31 on 11-14 shooting. He “cooled off” in the second half with “just” 12 points but the game had already been decided.
It’s hard to know how good this team is. They have no real inside presence and I long for the Sheehy/Paulsen teams that frequently were among the nation’s best in rebounding margin (see attached chart). Their defense is just so-so. Still, if the opposition keeps fouling, we’ll make those free throws. If we can take care of the ball, our overall shooting – not as good as in the most recent seasons but still pretty darn good — will win quite a few games. Against Amherst? Probably not. Away games in NESCAC? I worry. The Ephs seem to have calmed down following the bad start and Coach App’s substitution patterns have become less frantic. Those of you who predicted 5-to-7 losses are probably still in the hunt for the Big Prize.
I’ll send another update around the end of January; by then we should know what we have and whether we have a legitimate shot at the NESCAC tournament.
David Fehr provides this excellent preview of the recently commenced mens basketball season.
Gone to graduation are Michael Mayer, Taylor Epley, and useful reserve John Weinheimer. Gone to (what for the young man’s sake we hope are bigger and better things) transfer is Duncan Robinson.
Mayer was a first-team All American and our leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker. Robinson was our second leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, a 4th-team All American, and National D3 Rookie of the Year. Epley was our 3rd leading scorer and was All America in his junior year.
Daniel Wohl, Hayden Rooke-Ley (“Frito Lay”), Mike Greenman (who played wonderfully as a freshman when Rooke-Ley was on DL), Ryan Kilcullen, promising soph Dan Aronowitz.
Three guards but alas, no big men. My (usually reliable) source tells me that Cole Teal, 6-3 from Indiana, is likely to play right away and could eventually be an impact player. “Real Deal Teal.”
We get a break; the schedule is easier than last year. All teams from New England and eastern New York. No holiday trips down south to play the likes of Hampden-Sydney. (The holiday trip this year is to Salem – as in Salem, MA!) No Stevens. No Washington & Lee. 10 games at home, 12 away and two neutral. The two toughest non-league opponents could be Springfield (20-8; made NCAAs) and WPI (22-5; ranked; lost 1st round NCAA). We do have to make two trips to Maine (stupid scheduling by NESCAC which doesn’t seem to get much right), the first to meet Bowdoin and Colby, the other Bates and Tufts; winning all four would be very difficult. The Amherst league game (“the one that counts”) is at home.
I had been targeting this year as the one when we’d finally turn the tables on the Jeffs, because after tormenting us for nine years, Toomey finally graduated! But they have two very good centers returning, and over the last dozen or so years, the really good Williams teams (26 or more wins; going deep into NCAAs) had one or more excellent big men (Mayer; Whittington; Coffin; DeMuth). This year not so much in the paint (and last year we were an indifferent rebounding team, even with Mayer and Robinson) so that’s a big worry. We’ll score, but will we rebound and play enough D? Anyway, after creaming Amherst by 29 in the national semi-final game last March, the dubious record still stands: Amherst has won 8 of last 9, 19 of last 26 and 29 of last 44.
Amherst should win NESCAC yet again. Tufts (especially their front line) may have the second best talent in the league. Bowdoin’s Swords is not a great center but he is a legit 7-feet, something we don’t see much of around here. Middlebury may finally have run out of stars.
What the players say
Rooke-Ley is in a class I’m auditing and we’ve had two brief discussions about this team. He says the freshmen look good (in the informal, no-coaches-present workouts), and the team will do well: “We lose players every year and we replace them.” Wohl says “we’ll be better than you expect so don’t write us off.” OK, it’s what players should say, but are these two going to combine for 60 points a game? It could take that much.
A longtime EphBlogger responded to my request for requests by requesting a week’s worth of good news stories. Done! Let’s start with this impressive video of the new Weston athletic complex.
Give it a view! The production values are ESPN-level quality.
More than fifty years ago, Ephs took the field against Amherst.
Tomorrow, they do the same. And ten years from now. And one hundred. Do our Eph football players recognize their history? Do you?
TB Jones ’58 (my father’s roommate) played varsity squash at Williams. I remember seeing his picture in one of the many team photos that used to line the walls of the old gym. Walking by those old photographs each day for practice provided me with a great sense of the history that I was becoming a part of. Years later, those emotions were perfectly captured by Robin Williams in “The Dead Poet’s Society” when he takes his class to view the pictures of past students at their fictional New England prep school.
From the script:
Keating turns towards the trophy cases, filled with trophies, footballs, and team pictures.
KEATING: “Now I would like you to step forward over here and peruse some of the faces from the past. You’ve walked past them many times. I don’t think you’ve really looked at them.”
The students slowly gather round the cases and Keating moves behind them.
KEATING: “They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because you see gentlmen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in.”
The boys lean in and Keating hovers over Cameron’s shoulder.
KEATING (whispering in a gruff voice): “Carpe.”
Cameron looks over his shoulder with an aggravated expression on his face.
KEATING: “Hear it?” (whispering again) “Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”
The boys stare at the faces in the cabinet in silence.
Decades from now there will be another young man at Williams who will walk down those halls on his way to practice. Perhaps he will play squash like TB Jones and I did (although I hope that he plays more like TB than like me). Whatever his future might hold, I hope that he sees our pictures and wonders about us, about where we went from Williams and how prepared we were for the journey. I hope that he realizes how fortunate he is.
Does football coach Aaron Kelton remind his players of the history of those who have gone before? Does he know their names and their stories?
I hope so.
Williams may win or lose tomorrow. Given the fact that the team has struggled the last few years, that the seniors have lost this game every year that they have been at Williams and that Amherst comes into the game undefeated, a victory tomorrow would be one of the sweetest in decades, all the more so because no (?) neutral observer gives Williams any chance at all.
Did Frank Uible ’57 win or lose the games he played against Amherst more than 50 year ago? In the longer sweep of history, one game, one loss, is as dust in the corridors of memory. What matters is the day itself, and the place we each occupy within the traditions of the Williams community.
No one remembers the score of the game these men played 100 years ago. But we look in their faces and see ourselves.
I am Frank Uible ’57. Who are you?
[Thanks to EphBlog regular “nuts” and Williams Sports Information for the photos. Note that the original post in this series did not include a YouTube clip because YouTube did not exist. Old Time is still a-flying.]
Thanks to Jeff Z for this note in Speak Up:
Congrats to Williams on an incredible 13th straight Director’s Cup! The Ephs just barely edged out Midd thanks to a huge spring sports total. The top four are Williams, Midd, Wash U. and Amherst, which also happen to be four of the top 7-8 academic D-III schools in the country, proving once again that athletic and academic excellence can go hand-in-hand:
Congratulations to the year’s Eph athletes for another terrific year on the field/water/court, etc. I hope that we can all still appreciate what a remarkable achievement winning the Director’s Cup is each year. Winning so many in a row has a tendency to blur the achievement, in a way which is not fair to this year’s athletes.
Considering that Williams has no journalism, media, or communications majors, nor the platform of a Division I athletics program, it is absolutely remarkable just how many Ephs have attained tremendous success in the highly competitive world of sports media. No doubt, part of that success is attributable to the Williams Sports Information department led by Dick Quinn, which regularly employs students and highlights their work via the (I believe) unique Frank Deford and Aaron Pinsky ’06 awards. Eph alums employed in this arena include:
- Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Tim Layden ’78 is surely the most prominent Eph in the field.
- Peter May ’73 covered the Celtics for over 25 years at the Boston Globe.
- Philip Wall ’07 is a sports documentary writer/producer/director, whose recent works include The Passing Game and a highlight film for VCU’s recent Final Four appearance.
- Sam Flood ’83 is the producer of NBC’s NHL coverage.
- NBC Sports, in fact, employs an additional “flood” of Ephs, including Rob Hyland ’97 (who produces the Notre Dame football telecasts), Ikenna Iheoma ’10, Ben Horwitz ’09, Matt Marvin ’98, and Matt Casey ’93.
- Jason Hehir ’98, who was given his start by Flood, runs his own production company and is a five-time Emmy winner. Recently, he produced a fascinating documentary on the Fab Five as part of ESPN’s high-profile 30 for 30 series.
- Mark Kossick ’97 is Director of Programming and Production for NBA Entertainment.
- Pete McEntegert ’91 wrote The Ten Spot for years for SI.com, but is currently pursuing other ventures.
- Naoko Funayama ’95 is NESN‘s Bruins reporter, and she’s developed a pretty mean slap shot, accordingly.
- David Gow ’85 owns and operates the Sporting News Radio Network.
- Topher Sabot ’99 is the editor of FasterSkier.com.
- You can read football / baseball star Darren Hartwell ’13’s contributions to ESPN.com, where he is currently a summer intern.
- Christopher Clarey ’86 covers various sports for the New York Times. Among other things, he blogs about soccer and tennis.
- Based on Quinn’s assessment of his abilities, it is no surprise that Lorenzo Patrick ’11 will soon be joining this august group of Ephs. He is off to a great start, as he was recently hired to work at David Gow’s KGOW station in Houston.
- Finally, be sure to read this fascinating article on Beth Choat ’86, who previously held several high-profile sports journalism jobs, and now works as a police officer in Las Vegas while writing young adult novels about teenage athletes. She makes my list of top ten most interesting Eph alums, for sure!
The more references there are to Williams in elite media, the better off Williams will be. (Hat tip to Dick Quinn and the amazing job he does in Sports Information.)
The Williams men’s and women’s tennis teams both play in the NCAA tennis championship semifinals today. The women play at 2:00 eastern time, followed by the men at 5:00. Follow both matches live here.
The second-ranked and three-time defending national champion women, who defeated homestanding Claremont yesterday, look for revenge against UChicago, who defeated the Ephs earlier this season. Meanwhile, UChicago looks for payback of its own, as Williams bested them in last year’s semifinals. Should be a great match. If Williams wins, they may face Amherst in tomorrow’s championship, although the Jeffs have to first get by a very talented Emory squad.
Unlike the women, who were widely expected to earn a place in the semis, the thirteenth-ranked men had to upset third-ranked Claremont in dramatic fashion, on Claremont’s home court, late last night. Considering the circumstances, Bryan Chow ’13 had arguably the best individual effort by an Eph athlete all year. First, he and his partner won at first doubles. Then, Chow fought off five seven points, recovering from a set down to defeat Claremont’s senior captain in a dramatic third set tiebreaker (11-9 in the tie break). The pressure must have been immense, as all other matches were completed by that point, and Chow knew that a mistake on any of those match points would have ended the Ephs’ season. Chow was very opportunistic, converting on his lone match point chance. Eph coach Dan Greenberg ’08 called it the most “unbelievable college match he has seen.” And Chow’s victory may end up earning the Ephs just enough points to edge out Middlebury in what should be a very competitive Director’s Cup race.
Williams faces an even tougher test against second-ranked Amherst today. The Jeffs have already beaten Williams twice this year, and should have more left in the tank after a relatively easy quarterfinal victory yesterday. But don’t count the Ephs out, as they were not expected to have a chance against Claremont, either. Go Ephs!
When we last saw our hero, he was breaking the four-minute mile, running 3:58.8 indoors. Last Thursday, Macklin Chaffee ’09 was fourth at the U.S. road mile championships in Minnesota. In this video, he is on the right side of the screen, wearing white:
With about 1/4 mile to go in the race, three guys take off and separate themselves from the field; Macklin beat everyone else in the race, but couldn’t catch the three of them, who ended up on the podium. Macklin reflected:
In the race I remember seeing it string out on the right side of the field (I was on the left) but I took a few seconds to decide to react and that was the difference of 10 meters plus the 5 meter jump they had before I recognized the move. […] My body’s signals still caused me to hesitate and not really start pushing until we got to that downhill. Once on it, I flew by the 4 guys I was with and set my sights on the breakaway pack of three. I honestly think I recovered a bit on that downhill and really felt good once it leveled off with 200 to go. […] I sincerly believe that last 200 would have been about the same even if I had pushed earlier with those guys before the downhill. The consequence of not going with them will be that I have to settle for 4th.
On the one hand, 4th is awesome! I won $800 and beat a lot of really good guys. But at the same time I didn’t give myself an opportunity to win, and in a race like this, with nothing but maybe a little cash on the line, this is the opportunity to throw yourself at the competition, assert your confidence in your fitness, and really give the other guy your best shot. I don’t feel like I did that today and that has me melancholic (Yes it’s a word. I looked it up).
Fourth place may well be the best a Williams runner (or athlete in general?) has placed in a national championship, at least in recent memory. Jenn Campbell ’05 was ninth American at the 5k road championships in 2010. Macklin is training for the Olympics, aiming to be one of the top three Americans in his event (the 1500m or 800m) by 2012.
The boys relaxing after hitting the Williams Inn buffet!
Hope all the mom’s out there had a terrific Mothers Day! I realize that we are knee-deep in the very successful spring athletic season, but as the wrestling team just held its year-end banquet, I thought I would pen one final update to summarize the season, recognize individual accomplishments and honor the graduating seniors. This is a bittersweet task as the parent of a senior.
The Year in Review
The team came into this year with great expectations given last year’s success. Unfortunately the injury bug afflicted the team in a significant way throughout the season. Nevertheless, everyone pitched in and guys wrestled hurt and many wrestled up anywhere from one to three weight classes so as not to give up a forfeit. The Eph’s dual meet record of 12-11 is a bit misleading as six losses were decided by four points or less (one match). Highlights of the year included:
- First ever dual meet win over 22nd ranked Luther College (Iowa)
- 4th place finish in the Bud White National Duals at Lycoming College. During the tournament, Williams defeated 11th ranked York and 27th ranked Messiah.
- 4th place finish in the NEWA duals
- 2nd place finish in the NEWA year-end tournament. Seven All NEWA Wrestlers (Antista ’13, Foote ’13, Lomio ’14, Malo ’11, Martin ’12, Mattana ’11 and Paulish ’11), four finalists (Antista ‘13, Foote ‘13, Malo ‘11 and Paulish ‘11) and two champions (Antista ’13 and Paulish ’11)
- Team GPA of 3.573 which was the highest in school history and second nationally among all NCAA schools
- NCAA Tournament
- School record four wrestlers qualified for the NCAA National Tournament (Antista ’13, Foote ’13, Malo ’11 and Paulish ’11)
- 23rd place finish
- Two Eph freshman won the NEWA Conference “Futures Tournament” (Brooks ’14 and Treadgold ‘14) Read more
Today, Williams looks to upset Amherst for the NESCAC title in both men’s and women’s tennis. Both Eph tennis squads are led by alumni, Alison Swain ’01 for the women and Dan Greenberg ’08 for the men. Swain has a fairly respectable start to her coaching career: three seasons, three national titles.
At 9:00 this morning at Middlebury, the third-seeded Williams men, fresh off upsetting defending national champion Middlebury thanks to a clinching comeback win from Zach Weiss ’13, looks to avenge a 5-4 regular-season loss to top seeded Amherst. Amherst has finished second nationally two years running, and is the favorite to win this year’s national title. The Ephs have a very young team — none of the top six singles players are upperclassmen — making this year’s run all the more impressive. Despite being two of the top ten teams in the country, Amherst and Williams are both looking to end long championship draughts due to Middlebury’s recent dominance: since 1992 for Amherst, and since 2003 for the Ephs.
The women’s tennis match, played at 1:00 at Amherst, features top-ranked (nationally) Amherst versus number two Williams. Amherst has dominated the NESCAC tourney in recent years (the Jeffs are looking for their seventh straight NESCAC crown), and has already beaten Williams twice this year, but oddly, the Ephs have had far more success in the NCAA tourney, including the aforementioned three straight national titles (and five total titles over the past decade). Williams cruised path number five (nationally) Tufts in the NESCAC semifinal.
A slew of athletics stories to catch up on:
- The biggest news of the month is, of course, the (expected?) announcement that long-time Eph coach and administrator Lisa Melendy was named the new permanent athletics director. Congratulations!
- Congrats to Williams on ascending to its traditional position at the top of the Director’s Cup standings after a tremendously successful winter season.
- Congrats to future Eph Ryan Barry ’15 for being named the top scholar-athlete in Western Mass.
- The Williams baseball team (much like the softball and men’s and women’s lacrosse teams) had great success outside of conference play, but has struggled vs. NESCAC to date. [The Ephs did stay alive in NESCAC with a crucial and dramatic rally against Wesleyan on Sunday]. One story of note: the break-out first year of the spring season has been first year catcher Marco Hernandez, who is either first or second on the Ephs in batting, slugging, hits, home runs, stolen bases, and triples. Hernandez is also a very gifted football player, and is expected to play a bigger role on the gridiron next fall.
- Congrats to the Purple Cow, recently named America’s most lovable mascot in a Reader’s Digest poll. Although the poll listed only the top four, rumor has it that Lord Jeff came in at number 3458.
- Be sure to watch Khari Stephenson ’04’s spectacular goal, which was recently named MLS goal of the week:
- Nice article by Dave Fehr on the tremendous environment in Chandler during the last few weekends of Williams hoops. Winter in Billsville can be long for both students and local residents, and packed crowds cheering on a winning team in hotly contested rivalry and tourney games can go a long way towards dulling the winter blues, and building tremendous school spirit to boot.
- Great article on Williams swimming superstar Logan Todhunter ’12, who, along with fellow superstar Caroline Wilson ’13, led Williams to a third-place showing at the NCAA tourney.
- Also check out this article on women’s basketball star Jill Greenberg ’12 who, with one year of eligibility remaining, is already the Ephs’ all-time assist leader.
- Wonderful article by philosophy professor Alan Hirsch on hoops coach Mike Maker, whom he dubs the “anti Jim Calhoun.” Speaking of Calhoun, Dave Paulsen ’87 must be feeling at least a LITTLE bit better about the drubbing his Bucknell squad received from UConn after watching the Huskies go on to win the national title behind the same stifling defense that frustrated the Bison.
The Williams College women’s rugby team will pull the ultimate all-nighter… (Courtesy photo)
Stephen Dravis writes in the Berk shire Advocate on April 6:
Most college students pull an all-nighter at some point during their career.
Few will do anything like this.
On Easter weekend, the Williams College women’s rugby team will play a 24-hour match against Keene State that the teams hope will land them a place in Guinness World Records history and — more importantly — help in the fight against cancer.
The inaugural Scrum for a Cure will get under way at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 23, at Cole Field and end, if all goes according to plan, sometime after 8 a.m. on Easter Sunday.
Twenty-four hours of running and bone-jarring tackles may not be the easiest way to raise awareness of breast and colorectal cancer research, but Williams captain Leah Lansdowne said her team is up to the challenge.
“I think rugby is a unique sport for women to play,” Lansdowne said. “It involves some strong women. I think there’s a solidarity to raising money for a cancer that affects primarily women.”
That’s why the Williams players immediately got on board when their friends at Keene State suggested a breast cancer fundraiser of some kind — possibly involving pink uniforms.
Lansdowne said it was Williams coach Gina Coleman who suggested the teams take their efforts to another level.
“Somebody in the group said, ‘How about something like the March of Dimes does where people would pledge for every minute played? If we go the distance, we can raise a lot of money,'” recalled Coleman, who also is the college’s associate dean of students. “I said, if it’s of Guinness proportions, you could raise a lot. That’s when the idea came about.”
Read the entire story! As EphBlog Prexy Whitney Wilson suggests, donations may be made here
Williams coach Gina Coleman ’90 adds this about the logistics:
“The event will happen on the rugby pitch. Sunbelt Rentals out of Latham, NY will be providing us with temporary lights for the event.
“Thanks for the support!”
Interesting press release from Middlebury:
The College Sports Project (CSP) has released a third round of analyses measuring academic outcomes for athletes and non-athletes at 84 NCAA Division III colleges and universities. “The data identify subgroups of intercollegiate athletes who do as well as, and sometimes better than, their non-athlete counterparts,” said John Emerson, Charles A Dana Professor of Mathematics at Middlebury College and the study’s principal investigator. “By examining various subgroups of students, college presidents can see which students and teams are doing well academically, and which may need attention and help.”
“As past President of one of the CSP institutions, I always found these reports interesting and instructive. I’m proud of Northwestern University’s role in providing a secure locale for collecting and managing this large data set and a supportive environment for the team headed by Rachelle Brooks that has performed these valuable analyses,” said Morton Schapiro, President of Northwestern University.
The data continue to indicate relatively modest differences in grade-point averages (GPAs) between female athletes and non-athletes. In contrast, male recruited athletes generally have lower GPAs than their non-athlete counterparts.
Good stuff. There is a great senior thesis to be written using this data. You should write it!
Final article from several yeas ago in a three part series about Williams and the NCAA by Adam Bloch ’06.
Williams wonders what’s there to fix
Despite minor variations in opinion and the occasional renegade
viewpoint, a mostly united philosophycourses through the athletic
offices of Williams College with regard to a potential split in
the NCAA’s Division 3 because of membership growth. Men’s
basketball head coach Dave Paulsen described it best.
“I’m always of the opinion that if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” he
said earlier this week.
There is certainly nothing broken for Williams when it comes to
athletics. The Ephs have built a reputation as a well-honed winning
machine on the collegiate fields, courts, rinks, and pools of
Division 3 over the past decade. Since the NESCAC began participating
in NCAA championships in 1993, Williams has won 13 national titles
and nine out of 10 Directors’ Cups – an award given yearly to the
college in each division with the most overall athletic success.
The Ephs have managed to win so much despite competing against a
constantly increasing field of opponents in Division 3 (417 other
colleges this year) that includes institutions with enrollments five
times as large and half as many teams. Success against that sort of
competition has made many Williams coaches content with the current
state of the division.
“I enjoy competing against the top track schools,” track and field
head coach Ralph White said. “If we split, they would be in a
different division than us just because they’re a different type of
school. I want to compete against the best. I definitely prefer
keeping things the way they are.”
White coached at three Division 1 universities before joining the
Ephs, and he isn’t the only Williams coach with previous experience
at a range of different institutions. Baseball head coach Bill
Barrale was on the staff at three other Division 3 schools before he
came to Williamstown.
“I don’t think you need to tamper with the system,” he said. “The
NCAA has unfortunately let this thing grow into a problem. How do you
group the schools now? By money, by state schools and private
Second article in a three part series about Williams and the NCAA by Adam Bloch ’06.
Is it time for the NCAA to create a Division 4?
For the last several decades, people have become accustomed to NCAA’s
set structure of three divisions. Soon, everybody might have to get
used to a Division 4. Division 3 has been growing for years – ever
since the organization’s inception in 1973, though numbers have
increased far more rapidly in the past two decades. But it wasn’t
until 2002, a year before the divisional membership made a sudden
leap from 396 to 411 schools, that officials took action in response
to concerns surrounding such quick growth.
That’s when the division’s two most important governing bodies, the
Presidents Council and the Management Council, formed a joint
subcommittee to examine growth issues, beginning the first phase of
an effort that became known as the Future of Division 3.
“Coming out of the 2002 convention, we committed to a two-year
process to focus on the Division 3 philosophy statement and ensure
that there was greater consistency in the application at the
institutional level of that statement,” Division 3 Vice President Dan
Dutcher told the Transcript last week.
Interesting article about Williams and the NCAA by Adam Bloch ’06 from several years ago.
NCAA experiencing a growing problem
Thirty-four years after a three-way division completely altered its
shape and future, the NCAA now stands on the brink of a similarly
revolutionary split. Fueled by unceasing growth over the past two
decades and increasing philosophical differences within the
association, all three divisions of the NCAA are currently wrestling
with issues regarding membership that could transform the landscape
of collegiate athletics. Though NCAA officials are quick to assert
that any current discussions concern the entire association, debate
is nowhere more advanced and fractured than in Division 3, which as
soon as 2009 could split into two subdivisions or a completely new
NCAA grouping – a Division 4.
“The growth issues are important across the board for the
association,” Division 3 Vice President Dan Dutcher said in a phone
interview last week. “There’s been much more growth, though, as it
relates to Division 3, certainly.”
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