Alumni gifts endow track and women's soccer coaching positions

by Mark Cui and Chris Shim | 10/2/17 2:15am

The women’s soccer and men’s and women’s track and field teams recently announced two new endowed coaching positions. These gifts will enable their respective athletic programs to continue to grow. Stacy Smith Branca ’94, a captain of the 1993 Big Green women’s soccer team, and her family made a $2 million gift to endow the women’s soccer head coach position, while an anonymous donor made a $1 million gift to endow an assistant track and field coaching position.

“It’s awesome — for a former player, an alum, to give back to the team and the program in this way,” women’s soccer head coach Ron Rainey said. “The endowment will really help the team to do some things that will affect Dartmouth women’s soccer from now until forever. It’s humbling, it’s really cool and it really helps the school, the athletic department and definitely the soccer team.”

The two gifts mark the 13th and 14th endowed positions at Dartmouth. In total, the community has donated $27.5 million toward endowed athletic positions in the past four years. These endowments have helped improve Dartmouth’s ability to recruit and retain coaches as well as support the athletic department’s infrastructure and facilities, giving teams access to innovative technology in their respective sports. 

Branca, who led the Big Green to an Ivy League championship in 1993 and an appearance in the NCAA tournament, said in a College press release that she hopes that the gift will continue to inspire student athletes and help them develop vital life skills.

Rainey first met Branca at a gathering of Dartmouth soccer alumni in New York and immediately noticed the strong bond between Branca and the other soccer alumni. 

“What struck me about it was how she tied the room together and she spoke to people from her own grade and then interacted and talked to all the other alums that were there as well,” Rainey said. “It was a pretty cool testament to how the different classes over time interacted.”

Although Rainey is uncertain exactly how the endowment will be applied, he is confident that it will open up many new opportunities for the players.

“It can help attract and retain great assistant coaches, and then it really allows us to be on the cutting edge with any new technologies, equipment, any kinds of things that are out there right now,” Rainey said. “In a way, it’s pretty neat, and no decisions have been made on what to do, but all the things it opens up, it just allows you to really take care of the players, really to have a great support group for the players and then really to stay on the cutting edge technology-wise with where the sport is going.” 

Similarly, head coach of men’s track and field Barry Harwick ’77 expressed his gratitude for the anonymous donor’s $1 million contribution. While his own position, the Marjorie and Herbert Chase ’30 head coach of men’s track and field, has been endowed for over 20 years, the team is the first Dartmouth athletic program to receive an endowment for an assistant coaching position, Harwick said.

“That’s something we’ve been working on very hard — when I got to Dartmouth 20 years ago, we had four coaches on our staff; now we have six,” Harwick said. “I think that produces a much better experience for the student-athletes. Endowment income is just invaluable in making the whole thing work.”

While Harwick doesn’t envision the gift creating a new position or tangibly affecting the students, the donation will no doubt help the program in the long-term. 

“What it does do is ensure the long-term longevity and well-being of the program,” Harwick said. “I think in that sense it benefits every single person that’s involved in it.”

This was no more evident than this past weekend at a dinner honoring past Dartmouth Olympians. There, Harwick noted the intense passion that alumni share for the current track and field program in his speech to the alumni, explaining that the donation will continue to cultivate this bond.

“Your experience as a track and field athlete at Dartmouth extends a lot longer than four years, because I think our alumni are very important to us and when we have endowed positions, it ensures that we’re going to have a thriving track and field program here for years and years to come,” Harwick said. “I think that’s something that benefits not just the current students on our team but it’s also something that’s going to make all of our alumni happy as well, that they know that there’s this level of support out there.”