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NESCAC Suggestions, 3

Some crazy Williams alum sent this letter (pdf) to all the presidents of NESCAC schools. Let’s spend three days talking about it. Today is Day 3.

NESCAC schools should measure and make public the academic accomplishments of their student athletes, both in high school (AP/SAT scores) and in college (GPA, majors).

Suggestions:

  • In the first (trial) year, allow each school to present the information in whatever way it prefers. (Smart presidents will simply delegate the task to their athletic directors and institutional researchers.) Since no (?) athletic conference has done this before, it is not clear what the best approach might be.
  • Any statistic should be presented in three different ways: for the entire student body, for the team as a whole and for the team weighted by playing time. (The last measure discourages coaches from stacking teams with academically accomplished benchwarmers.) FERPA prevents schools from releasing data about an individual student, but there is no law against making aggregate data available.
  • Include data from both high school and college. We want to demonstrate both the affect of athletics on admissions and, even more importantly, how athletes perform in college.

There are several benefits to greater transparency about the academic performance of NESCAC athletes. First, it would publicly demonstrate a fact that many non-athletes doubt: On the whole, athletes are similar in their academic qualifications and accomplishments to non-athletes. Second, it would encourage coaches to make academics a bigger focus in both their recruiting and their mentorship. If you (partially) measure coaches by the academic performance of their teams, you will get better academic performance. Third, it will prevent coaches/schools from complaining, inaccurately, about the behavior of their peers. Right now, coach X loves to claim that school Y unfairly lowers standards for its recruits. Who knows? With transparency, we can observe institutional behavior easily.

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NESCAC Suggestions, 2

Some crazy Williams alum sent this letter (pdf) to all the presidents of NESCAC schools. Let’s spend three days talking about it. Today is Day 2.

NESCAC schools should disallow participation by athletes older than 22 (except, in individual cases, by unanimous consent of the NESCAC presidents).

The average age of student athletes in NESCAC continues to increase, further deepening the athlete/non-athlete divide at most schools. This is especially true for starters in high profile sports. Indeed, it is hard to find a NESCAC men’s hockey team in which several of the best players are not two years older than their classmates after spending several years in junior hockey. Although many students use the PG (post-graduate) year option to better prepare for the rigors of NESCAC academics, others (and the coaches who recruit them) use it as a red shirt year, a chance to become a better athlete. Since athletic ability peaks in your late 20s, this aging-of-athletes process will only continue. This isn’t too large a problem now, which makes it all the easier to end. Exceptions, by unanimous consent of the NESCAC presidents could be made in individual cases, like the military veteran who starts college at 21 and was not recruited specifically for his athletic talent. Once coaches know that they can’t play outstanding athletes who are too old, they will find plenty of 18-year-olds to recruit.

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NESCAC Suggestions, 1

Some crazy Williams alum sent this letter (pdf) to all the presidents of NESCAC schools. Let’s spend three days talking about it. Today is Day 1.

Football is too dangerous.

The National Football League, which for years disputed evidence that its players had a high rate of severe brain damage, has stated in federal court documents that it expects nearly a third of retired players to develop long-term cognitive problems and that the conditions are likely to emerge at “notably younger ages” than in the general population.*

NESCAC football may be less dangerous than playing in the NFL, but there is every reason to believe that it is more dangerous, by an order of magnitude, than every other NESCAC sport. More importantly, the defenses for football are weak:

“No student is forced to play football. To the extent doing so is dangerous, it is a student’s choice, just like participation in other risky activities like rock climbing.” The vast majority of starting players on most (all?) NESCAC football teams would not have been admitted to their school if they did not agree to play football. They don’t really have any “choice,” at least if they are being honest with the coach who is recruiting them. If they tell the coach that, while they would love to go to school X, they don’t plan on playing football, the coach won’t put them on his list and they won’t be accepted.

“Ending football would be too unpopular among the alumni and/or major donors.” Connecticut College has no football program, and yet does as well as the average NESCAC school in terms of alumni giving and loyalty. Swarthmore ended football 15 years ago and, after a short-lived controversy, has raised as much money as almost any liberal arts college.

“Football may be dangerous for students but it is not dangerous for the College.” The first football lawsuit against a NESCAC school is not far away. If the NFL was willing to pay millions to injured players, even those who had only been in the league for a season or two, why wouldn’t the same reasoning apply to four-year NESCAC players? Do you want to be deposed by a plaintiff’s attorney about what you knew about the risks of football? Do your trustees? Organizations with hundreds of millions of dollars in assets attract lawsuits. The more years you allow football to continue, the greater the potential liability.

* “Brain Trauma to Affect One in Three Players, N.F.L. Agrees” New York Times, September 12, 2014.

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Can We Talk?

The official Colby College magazine covered the topic of free speech on campus.

A flood of incidents at institutions ranging from huge land-grant universities to small liberal arts colleges is growing into a conflict between “politically correct” culture and freedom of speech. The swift reaction has been passionate. Some warn of suppression of speech, while others welcome the shift toward a more sensitive culture as a needed adjustment in an increasingly intolerant world. Still others complain that such increased “tolerance” is itself a form of intolerance.

A recent national survey revealed that while most college students believe their campus environment should expose them to diverse viewpoints, a large majority also believes that schools should be allowed to restrict intentionally offensive language. And 54 percent of students recently surveyed by the Knight Foundation and Gallup said the climate on campus prevents some people from saying what they believe, because others might find it offensive.

But can colleges monitor and restrict slurs and hate speech while also protecting free speech and the give and take of ideas in what is, after all, an academic and intellectual space? In Colby’s tight-knit community, the conversation is just getting started. “We need to be very clear about our values when it comes to issues around freedom of speech and around respect and civility,” said President David A. Greene. “These things can coexist.”

Read the whole thing. Do you think that the Williams Magazine will cover the debate on this topic at Williams? I have my doubts. The Colby author writes:

As the conflict spread, Williams College canceled two right-wing speakers who were invited to campus as part of the college’s “Uncomfortable Learning” series.

1) It is interesting to see how (sympathetic!) observers portray the events of the last year at Williams. EphBlog readers know, of course, that “Williams College” did not really cancel two speakers. The students cancelled Venker and Falk banned Derbyshire. And yet, to Colby alumni, it will appear (correctly?) that there is less free speech at Williams than there is at any other NESCAC school.

2) At Colby there is a student Republican group. At Williams, there is not. Why? Should we be worried?

3) Always nice to see Robert Gaudino’s catchphrase, “Uncomfortable Learning,” get mentioned elsewhere.

4) Entire tenor of the article is remarkably restrictionist. They don’t quote — because they can’t find — a single faculty member or administrator who believes that speech at Colby should be at least as free as speech at the University of Maine.

So, I guess the answer to “Can we talk?” will be, in a few more years, “Only if you don’t say anything that upsets from from the right.” Or am I too pessimistic?

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Curse of the Taco Six

What is it about sombreros and NESCAC that generates such controversy? From the Washington Post:

On Saturday, two members of Bowdoin College’s student government will face impeachment proceedings. What heinous transgression did they commit? Theft, plagiarism, sexual assault?

Nope. They attended a party where some guests wore tiny sombreros.

Two weeks ago, some students threw a birthday party for a friend. The email invitation read: “the theme is tequila, so do with that what you may. We’re not saying it’s a fiesta, but we’re also not not saying that :).” The invitation — sent by a student of Colombian descent, which may or may not be relevant here — advertised games, music, cups and “other things that are conducive to a fun night.”

Those “other things” included the miniature sombreros, several inches in diameter. And when photos of attendees wearing those mini-sombreros showed up on social media, students and administrators went ballistic.

College administrators sent multiple schoolwide emails notifying the students about an “investigation” into a possible “act of ethnic stereotyping.”

1) It would be fun to read those e-mails. Could any Bowdoin readers copy and paste in the comments?

2) This is at least the third (!) sombrero-related controversy to hit NESCAC. The first was our own Taco Six. There was a similar “scandal” at Middlebury, although I am hazy on the details.

3) Never too late to create the Eph Style Guide!

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Tennis Rivalry Showdown

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.

Go Ephs!

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Bowdoin 5 – 2 over Williams: NESAC Hockey title first for the Polar Bears …


From the Williams Athletics site:
Fifth seed Bowdoin College scored in every period in downing host and second seeded Williams College 5-2 to claim their first NESCAC title this afternoon in Lansing Chapman Rink.

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Ephs win 3-2 OT thriller to advance to NESCAC finals

Matt Masucci ’11

From Williams Athletics site:

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Co-captain Matt Masucci’s overtime goal lifted the #2-seeded Williams College men’s hockey team (16-7-3) over the #8-seeded Wesleyan Cardinals (8-11-1) and sent the Ephs to their second NESCAC final in school history.

Forward Mark Lyons ’13 also stepped up big for the Ephs, adding the team’s other two goals.

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On Trinity Squash

This article from today’s New York Times Magazine features Trinity’s dominant squash team and gives Williams a few references, albeit in the rare sporting circumstance of being the vanquished rather than the victor. I suspect most of us will give them squash while we take, well, just about everything else.

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2009 Grad Macklin Chaffee breaks four minute mile …


Macklin Chaffee ’09 when at Williams.

The Williams College Sports site reports that Macklin Chaffee ’09 is the first-ever NESAC runner to hit sub-four. He turned in a 3:58:8 on February 12th at the Valentine Invitational sponsored by Boston University to finish 5th. The winning time was 3:57:11 by Eric Van Ingen of Binghamton with five of the eight in the heat coming in under 4.

Mitch Baker ’04, assistant track & field coach for Williams, has been his coach and advisor for the past four years. Baker says “I wanted to make sure that the people of Williams got news of this milestone in Williams athletic history”.

The marker was first broken in 1954 by Roger Bannister in 3:59.4. Since that date, the time has been lowered by almost 17 seconds and hovers at 3:43. Macklins’ time of 3:58.8 would have beaten Bannister 47 years ago!

Congratulations to Macklin Chaffee!

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NESCAC Sunday

A big day of Eph sports up ahead:

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DiCenzo to Wesleyan?

From D3Wrestle.com:

d3wrestle.com has learned that Dan DiCenzo, head coach at Williams College, has resigned his position to become the Associate Head Coach for Wesleyan University football. DiCenzo was at Williams for six years and was Head Coach for three. In the last three seasons, Williams has compiled a 50-16-1 record and sent seven wrestlers to the NCAA championships, with three earning All-American honors. Williams won the 2009 and 2010 NEWA Championships and was the NWCA Scholar Team champion in each of the last three seasons.

No official announcement has been made, but d3wrestle.com will link to it as soon as it is posted.

Mike Whalen left for Wesleyan last month.

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Breaking News: Coach Whalen to Wesleyan

Head football coach Mike Whalen resigns from Williams to become associate athletic director and head coach at his alma mater, Wesleyan.  Coach Whalen did a tremendous job for Williams, and leaves the program in very strong shape.  Indeed, led by a deep and very talented group of rising seniors, Williams should have, next year, its most loaded squad since at least fall of 2006, the Ephs’ last undefeated season.  Supposedly, the Ephs have a fantastic group of E.D. recruits already in the fold for next season as well (many have previously been noted here at Ephblog).  Despite the unusual timing, there will be no shortage of candidates for the head coaching slot.  Mike Bajakian ’96 immediately comes to mind, although I’d be surprised if he leaves a job as offensive coordinator at a BCS power.  The Ephs also have several strong internal candidates.

Although I am sorry to see Whalen go, he should make the Little Three a lot more competitive, and a lot more fun, within a few years.  As of now, Wesleyan games are usually non-events (at least from a football perspective).  I imagine that will soon change.

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Jumbo Innovation

Tufts now encourages prospectives who so desire to submit Youtube videos with their applications.  Very cool idea!  (And one that might make an admissions officer’s job a bit more fun, to boot).  That’s one of two great reasons to apply to Tufts (the other, of course, being the chance to have Sam Sommers ’97 as a professor).

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NESCAC Updates, 3 teams in Finals tomorrow

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Webcasts this Weekend

From the homepage of Williams Sports Information:

  • Both Men’s and Women’s Soccer won their respective NESCAC quarterfinals, so the Men’s team is headed to Wesleyan for the rest of the tournament, while the ladies will be hosting at Cole Field. Unlike in the regular season, the webcasts of the Williams/Tufts and Amherst/Middlebury games will be available for free at this link, provided you are willing to listen to my commentary.
  • Wesleyan will be webcasting the away football game, which is also their homecoming match. See here, then look under the “webcast” column on the right for the feed.
  • The NESCAC volleyball tournament at Tufts will be on Jumbocast. The Ephs are seeded second.
  • Last, Trinity is hosting the NESCAC field hockey finals. See here for the games.
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Transitioning to Collegiate Athletics

From the Salem News:

Williams College, one of the prestigious “Little Three” including Wesleyan and Amherst, has been ranked the top liberal arts school in America by U.S. News and World Report seven years running. It is one of the most selective and respected undergraduate institutions in the country.

It also had a darn good women’s soccer team — something recent Masconomet graduate Cait Clark is quickly finding out. […]

Just a month after she arrived on campus, it looks like the Williams program fits Clark like a glove.

“It was a little nerve wracking at first, but this is one of the most welcoming teams I’ve ever played with,” she said. “You feel right away like you’ve been part of the team forever. The transition’s easy.”

The rest of the article is here. Clark is part of a very talented freshman class on the team, which is already showing flashes of the brilliant passing I saw so much last season. I look forwards to broadcasting the rest of her season (though hopefully I’ll never slip up again and again identify Clark as Caitlyn Cain, a JA who plays softball). You can get the Sports Information Twitter feed here.

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Football Roster

From Frank Uible ’57:

Today is a sad one for about two score young men, Williams College (which ought to hang its figurative head in shame), the other member colleges of New England Small College Athletic Conference and general pedagogy – as on this date each NESCAC football team pares its 2009 football roster to 75 players by cutting young men who desire to participate in small college intercollegiate football and each of whom his respective college has the capacity to accomodate in that desire without subtantial incremental expense – all in compliance with the wrong headed conspiratorial NESCAC Rule of 75, a glorious triumph of contemptible petty politics over the worthy educational principle of fostering extra-curricular participation by the student body. Men, as an alum of Williams College I humbly apologize.

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Amherst, Trinity Among Nation’s Most Douche

Bravely wading through any number of potential pot-kettle issues, Gentlemen’s Quarterly presents to its readers a feature for the ages: “America’s 25 Douchiest Colleges.”  You can see it here on GQ’s Web site in all its glory, or to get a look at how it ran in the magazine, check here.

The question isn’t whether you’re a douche bag when you go to college. We were all kind of douche bags when we went to college, if we’re going to be honest about it. No, the question for America’s youth is: What kind of douche bag do you aspire to be?

First of all, speak for yourself, GQ.  Second, um, what?  Most folks aspire to no such thing.  (As always, there are some exceptions.)

Third, at the very least they got it right.  Trinity cracks the list at No. 21, but the kicker is Amherst at No.7, though the rationale doesn’t exactly do us any favors.

Home of: The “I Went to a Small liberal-arts College in Massachusetts” Douche
Affectations: Quiet sense of superiority; intense desire to be surrounded by 1,700 people almost exactly like you; Choate soccer jacket.
In ten years, will be: Smart policy guy at State Department that no one listens to.
Douchey mascot: Lord Jeffrey Amherst.
Problem with douchey mascot: Distributed smallpox-infested blankets to Native Americans.

Hmm.  Good form on the bioterrorism reference, I suppose.  The cynics among us may claim that this is simply a name recognition problem for Williams, but I like to think GQ is onto something.

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Tales from the Darkside

So, I attended Amherst’s Commencement this weekend … thought I’d share a few tidbits:

— Overall, like Williams, Amherst is incredibly well-run, and the school put on a memorable weekend for all involved.

— Common theme from every speaker throughout the weekend: predictably, the economy.  Kind of got depressing after awhile, actually.  I felt that, while certainly the collapse and its implications needed to be acknowledged, it was overemphasized.  The only person who achieved the proper balance in my view was the student class speaker, who noted the economy but still made his speech primarily about the Amherst experience.  (He is a tour guide, and employed a very clever framing device in which he reflected on truths and lies told on the Amherst tour.  That also yielded the best line of his speech, something to the effect of, I’ve given the Amherst spiel so many times that I could almost recite it walking backwards …).

— Speaking of which, the seniors all listened to brief auditions for class speaker prior to voting on the winning orator.  The winner was, I imagine not coincidentally, outstanding (despite noting that “Williams College is a horrible college,” a reference to a t-shirt I observed on more than one occasion on campus).  This is an idea Williams should steal.

— On the topic of stealing ideas, Amherst stole Williams’ Olmstead Awards idea (Amherst has been awarding these for 12 years, Williams for 25).  To add insult to injury, Amherst named its version of these awards for Zephenia Swift Moore.  But, if Amherst is going to steal something, this is definitely something worth stealing.

— There is, however, no outside speaker, just the college President.  That went, ummm, far less spectacularly.  (The first ten minutes of the speech involved a Cliffs-notes recap of the financial crisis, followed by the President’s opining that individual greed rather than collective responsibility was responsible — yes, it really was that platitudinous.  He officially lost the crowd about two minutes in ….).

— There is no equivalent to the student-centric Ivy Exercises, which I thought was a shame.  Like Williams, Amherst does have a Baccalaureate Service (which, as one might expect from a NESCAC school, was sufficiently politically correct and featured a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish, Christian, Orthodox, and non-believer component).

— Random senior class tradition: each senior received a wooden walking cane for graduation — which led to the odd sight of a huge number of 22 year-olds employing those canes later that afternoon, not to mention the equally odd sight of bunch of canes going through metal detectors at the airport later that evening.  Of course I am biased, but I think the watch-dropping kicks that particular tradition in the butt :) …

— Coolest thing by far at Amherst: its Museum of Natural History.  The brand new building is spectacular (not to mention the only noteworthy contemporary building on campus), and the contents are even more spectacular.  Definitely worth a visit if in the area.  On the other hand, I’d skip the art museum, which (predictably) is far, far inferior to the WCMA.

— Most impressive thing about the physical plant: the dorms.  All of the frosh dorms are newly renovated and are incredible, one in particular which used to house the prior incarnation of the Natural History Museum and resembles a ski lodge at Vail.  Any tour going through the most newly-renovated frosh dorm is sure to come away impressed.  Amherst has also recently constructed two huge, gorgeous upperclassmen dorms, both with spectacular views.

— Least impressive thing about the physical plant: everything else.  Amherst is way, WAY behind Williams in terms of its non-dorm facilities.  The Amherst student center is definitely looking worse for wear (stylistically, it reminded me of the interior and new addition to Hopkins — unsurprising considering the buildings were built at the same time — only a lot shabbier).  Paresky absolutely destroys its interior, both aesthetically and in terms of functionality, and I actually prefer the Paresky exterior as well (the Amherst exterior is not nearly as daring or ostentatious as Paresky, so some might prefer it, but it is boring and the design is not aging well at ALL).  There is, moreover, no Goodrich equivalent so far as I can tell.  The main Amherst library is in even worse shape than Sawyer, believe it or not.  The lone dining hall on campus doesn’t come close to matching Williams’ dining facilities / options.  The science complex seems to approximate Williams’ science complex prior to the construction of the Unified Science Center.  Other than the building that houses the Natural History Museum, none of the academic buildings struck me as particularly impressive.  Amherst is in the middle of a fund raising drive, which I learned will support major renovations to its science and library complexes, but Williams is definitely WAY ahead in terms of physical plant needs in all areas but for dorms (and even when it comes to dorms, Williams is in MUCH better relative shape, as Williams has recently renovated most of its dorms, just not to the spectacular degree as Amherst).  I imagine to do the job right, Amherst will have to spend nearly as much on renovating its library as Williams’ remaining obligation on the new Sawyer.  And that still leaves Amherst with massive prospective outlays on crucial student life and science facilities if it hopes to keep up with the Williamses.

(*NB: I realize some on this blog have recently opined that physical plant expenditures contribute little to the educational experience; I am not trying to argue either way here, but rather simply make an observation.  Also, I don’t think the different levels of physical plant outlays reflect a difference in philosophy between the institutions, but rather a difference in timing.  Because the new buildings Amherst has constructed / gut-renovated are just as over-the-top luxurious as the newer buildings on the Williams campus).

— It would be very, very difficult to distinguish (without the aid of t-shirt slogans) a group of 20 random Amherst students vs. 20 random Williams students.  The only SLIGHT difference I noted is that there seemed to be a bit more of a stark divide, both in appearance and socialization, between jocks and non-jocks at Amherst, while at Williams there might be a bit more of a continuum.  But perhaps that observation was influenced by my preconceived notion on that point.

— Amherst’s senior class t-shirt: I Survived Swine Flu.  Awesome.

— There is no single location on Williams’ campus that is nearly as gorgeous or memorable as Amherst’s enormous, impressive central quad.  (Although I do believe Williams’ campus will at least finally have a similar true functional and aesthetic “center” between Stetson and Paresky once the Stetston-Sawyer project is completed).  But the Williams campus feels larger and less cloistered, is more interesting / diverse in terms of architectural styles, and offers a far greater variety of  noteworthy settings (Berkshire Quad, the row houses, the science quad, Mission Park area) than Amherst, which outside of the absolutely stunning main quad area, felt sort of like a closely-clumped and randomly arranged afterthought.  Without a doubt, the difference in architectural styles mirrors the difference in mascots and school colors: the Williams campus feels open, quirky, and fun, whereas Amherst’s feels traditional, impressive, and stuffy.  On the other hand, Amherst does not have to deal with Route 2, which is a huge plus.  In terms of natural surroundings, Amherst features one jaw-droppingly gorgeous view.  Williams, of course, features such views from almost everywhere on campus …

— Back on the topic of speakers, given that Clarence Otis is a businessman, his forthcoming address is expected to — and I am sure will — hit on the economy, but I hope that he and other speakers are not AS overwhelmingly focused on present economic conditions, and also discuss broader aspects of the Williams experience and the long-term future for graduates.  The last thing everyone in attendance needs is yet another sobering reminder of just how much the graduates’ lives are about to suck.

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Today’s the Day – NCAA Soccer Semifinals @ 5 PM FINAL UPDATE


Macpherson Field, Greensboro, ready for play

(photo copyright Williams College)

 

 

The day has finally arrived. The Williams women play the defending D3 National Champions, the Thunder from Wheaton College (IL), in the NCAA Final Four today at 5 PM EST.

UPDATE: Wheaton ahead 1-0 at the half (5:50 PM). Williams playing strong. Almost scored twice in the first 2 minutes. Wheaton answered at about 6 minutes in. Luck has not been with the Ephs so far, with two no goals and a slew of flyers over the bar. They are composed and look very good. GO EPHS!

2ND UPDATE: Weird tap in early in the 2nd gives Wheaton another point. Bad luck Let’s hope it turns soon.

3rd UPDATE: Gabby Woodson sneaks one in. With 30 min. left, it’s 2-1, Wheaton.

4th UPDATE: Wheaton scored again, about 6 min. left.

FINAL UPDATE: And there it ended for the Ephs. Both teams played well and cleanly and the game was much closer than the score indicated. Until that third Wheaton score, it could have gone either way. A big disappointment, but a glorious journey. Congratulations to our Ephs and their worthy opponents.

In Greensboro: Macpherson Stadium at Bryan Park (directions included)

                    6015 Townsend Road 

                          Browns Summit, NC

In Williamstown: on the big screen at Paresky

Online: NCAA.com (remember to preload the Silverlight.2.0(2).dmg software )

And here’s another fun story about the team that gives a bit of flavor of what it’s like to be getting ready to play in the Final Four. Not mentioned in the article are the parents. I have no doubt that many (most?) of them are in Greensboro, that they are having a great time together, and that they and their daughters are enjoying spending a little (but probably not much) time together. From what I can tell, the parents form the core of a spirited, highly supportive fan section. If you can, join them in the cheering, whether at the field, in Paresky, or online.

Note that the Amherst men play today in the men’s Final Four. 

Go Ephs! Go Lord Jeffs! Go NESCAC!

The team, all cleaned up, in Greensboro (pre-NCAA banquet?)

(photo copyright Williams College)

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Congratulations to the Fall Athletes

Congratulations to all of the Williams fall athletes. It has been, as Jeff points out, an extremely successful season on the playing fields, on the courses and courts, and on the water.

Special congratulations should go to those who received conference academic and/or sportsmanship honors.

All-Academic:

Each season NESCAC honors scholar-athletes who

-       are varsity letter winners,

-       are juniors or seniors, and

-       have a cumulative GPA of 3.35 or better.

This fall, 57 Eph scholar-athletes from nine teams were selected for this All-Academic honor (note that the list would be even longer if men’s and women’s crew and tennis, which have somewhat truncated fall seasons, were included). Many of the seniors on the list are repeat honorees, and many of the juniors will be repeat honorees.

Based on having done this exercise in years past, I can promise you that, when the 2009 and 2010 Commencement materials come out, if you cross-check these names (including those on the winter and spring season lists as well), you will find a pleasing overlap between some of these names and those on the PBK and math/science honor society, honors or high honors, Latin honors, and/or fellowship and other academic awards lists.

Lest you think that Williams, like many schools, has a two-tier system where a group of high-academic-stat but lesser skilled athletes warm the bench, boosting the team’s GPA, while lower-academic-stat athletes with sharper skills get all the playing time, look at the list. If you follow Williams sports, you’ll notice quite a few athletic stars’ and significant contributors’ names on the All-Academic list.  

Nowadays, athletes who play even a single sport are expected to put in many hours of training all year long. In-season sports probably require at least 25 hours a week, and often more, especially for those who have leadership positions and for members of teams that travel a lot. Several sports (golf, tennis, and crew) have two seasons, and many athletes play two or even three sports. The various skiing teams (and squash?) seem to have exceptionally long seasons (as of course do teams that advance far through an extended multi-tier NCAA post-season tournament system, as the women’s soccer team has done this year). To excel academically while putting in such large amounts of time and energy for practice, playing, travel, and team organizational efforts (and often doing very well athletically) is quite an accomplishment and bodes very well for these scholar-athletes’ successes after Williams. If you follow campus activities at all, you’ll notice that quite a few of the scholar-athletes’ names also crop up as leaders in various other activities as well, making their achievements even more difficult but also even more commendable.

All-Sportsmanship Team

Each season, NESCAC honors one student from each team from each member school for his or her sportsmanship, both in athletics and in his or her daily life. Honorees are nominated by their teammates and coaches. Eight Williams students were honored this year, all seniors. Lauren Garcia, a soccer player and member of the NESCAC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, is a repeat honoree. Congratulations to all eight. From past experience, these are often the people who keep the play fun for everyone.

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