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The Dartmouth
April 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Letter to the Editor: Dartmouth Track and Field Alumni Support Ronald Shaiko

Shaiko was a beloved, respected volunteer who deserved better treatment from Dartmouth Athletics.

Re: Coaching changes, athlete turnover and injuries abound: Former men’s cross country and track runners expose challenges of past two years

It was saddening to read about the treatment of Ronald Shaiko and his unceremonious removal from his positions with Dartmouth’s cross country and track and field teams. Ron, a respected professor in the government department for more than 20 years and former associate director at The Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, was an invaluable member of the program. His unjust removal was no way to reward someone who provided more than two decades of meritorious service to Dartmouth athletics.

Ron served as an academic advisor for both the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams. If a test needed to be proctored for an athlete who was traveling to a race, Ron was there to do it. If an athlete needed to make arrangements with a professor to miss class or make up an assignment because of a competition, Ron was there to facilitate that conversation. He was available to help every athlete. In my observation, he always treated all of the men and women in the program with respect. Many women who are alumnae of the program have signed an online version of this letter to attest that Ron has been nothing but a kind, caring and professional mentor for the team.

In addition, Ron served as a volunteer assistant coach for the men’s cross country team, where he offered support in a variety of ways. Whether it was shuttling athletes to and from practices at the Northern Rail Trail, offering up a spare pair of gloves during a snowy cross country race or sharing a word of advice before a race, Ron was a critical part of the distance program’s success for 20 years. Ron was there to develop men of character and to support every member of the team, from All-American to walk-on. For many of us who graduated from 2003 to 2023, it is hard to imagine Dartmouth cross country without him.

That is why his removal during the 2022-23 school year is so troubling. Getting rid of Ron accomplished nothing other than harming the members of that year’s team and teams to come, who will no longer benefit from his support. As an alumnus, I am immensely grateful for the contributions Ron made during his time with the program — and there are 126 other alumni and family who agree and have signed an online version of this letter. The program’s alumni are better athletes, teammates and people because of him. Rather than tarnishing his reputation and removing him from his post, Dartmouth should be celebrating Ron Shaiko’s impact on generations of Dartmouth athletes.