Looking Ahead for the Big Green

by Josie Harper | 3/8/05 6:00am

I have read a number of articles and listened to a number of people over a period of some time say that Dartmouth Athletics is mediocre. These detractors do not seem to appreciate the efforts of more than 900 student-athletes who participate on our 34 varsity teams. They also appear to not understand what it means to be a Division I coach in the Ivy League. I feel the time is right for me to address some of this criticism and remind our supporters that we need their positive energy and constructive engagement.

We have some of the best coaches in country. They work on a daily basis with some of the best student-athletes in the country -- student-athletes who love Dartmouth, their teammates and their sport. This past weekend is a perfect example of what is so right about Dartmouth Athletics. Men's basketball finished the season in a tie for third place in the League, and will enter the record books for the second-best improvement in Ivy League history. Our women's basketball team won yet another Ivy title. Our women's ice hockey team has advanced to the ECAC finals by defeating Colgate in two straight games and is presently ranked third in the nation. Dartmouth's men's ice hockey, which has also been ranked nationally, won its first-round playoffs against Yale. Our men's and women's ski teams finished second at the Eastern Intercollegiate Skiing Association championships and advanced 12 student-athletes to the NCAA Championships. The women's lacrosse team won their first game of the season against UNH and is currently ranked 10th in the nation, and the men's lacrosse team won its first two games of the season. And those are just the accomplishments of this past weekend.

Earlier in the year, the men's cross country team came in second at Heps, and the men's soccer team won its second Ivy title in three years to advance to the NCAA tournament. In 2003-04, our women's soccer team won the Ivies and advanced to the NCAA Championship, our women's lacrosse team qualified for the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in seven years and our baseball team advanced to the Ivy League Championship. Dartmouth also had countless first-team All-Ivy and Academic All-Ivy recipients, and was ranked fifth among all NCAA Division I institutions in the National Collegiate Scouting Association's Top 25 Power Rankings. In addition to all these successes, we are moving ahead under new leadership in football. We have already seen a significant improvement in our men's basketball program under head coach Terry Dunn, and I expect the same for our football program under head coach Buddy Teevens.

In the past seven years, under President Jim Wright's leadership, we have forged ahead in the area of athletics facilities. The construction of the Boss Tennis Center and Gordon Pavilion, the new Scully-Fahey artificial turf field and the Blackman practice football fields, the renovation of the golf course and Leverone Field House, and the current construction of the Corey Ford Rugby Club House could not have happened without the support and endorsement of President Wright. In addition, Dartmouth plans to continue to improve its athletics facilities over the next several years by focusing on a substantial renovation to Alumni Gym that will provide new and larger spaces for fitness and recreation for the entire campus community, a new competition soccer facility and improvements to our football facilities. President Wright has also worked tirelessly in other ways to make sure that Dartmouth has sound and successful athletics offerings to complement the quality of the academic enterprise. For example, President Wright has been instrumental in our ability to recruit top student-athletes. In many cases, his personal interest has made the difference in a student's decision to come to Dartmouth. His willingness to talk to parents and recruits is unequalled in the League. His support is also apparent through his very regular presence at athletics contests.

It is easy to stand back and complain, but I would encourage those concerned about athletics to look forward. We look backward to acknowledge our greatness, but we look forward to acknowledge our future. I write to recognize a number of teams and student-athletes who continue to connect us to traditions and remind us of what every school boy and girl knows: you improve and/or win with skill, determination and by remaining focused on what is in front of you. What are in front of us are some very successful athletics programs. I know that our supporters have high expectations -- and so do I, so do our coaches and so do our students -- but this record is one of achievement, not mediocrity. We are having substantial success, and we are working on getting even better! Please join us for an upcoming athletic contest. You will see teams that remind you of how college athletics should be played.

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