I was in California when I heard the news. Though as I mentioned in my last posting I suspected we might hear some good news, I wasn't sure what to expect and had no idea of when to expect it. As the day grew later I received no less than 6 phone calls from friends who were equally elated about our return. I checked my e-mail that night to find my inbox flooded with even more reports and written shouts of joy from so many others. I suppose that when you spend 3 years of your life angry and complaining about something you feel is unjust and it gets turned around there is a great need for you and those you love to radiate happiness from every fiber of your being. The greatest testament to why it was so important to bring this team back however is because of that network created and because of the size of the collective that was sharing in that joy. Friends spanning my 6 years of involvement with the program contacted me that day. And I shared with each one of them the satisfaction of feeling that a wrong had been righted.
I relish the thought of being able to once again throw my support behind the University and team that were my second home and family for such an important period of my life. When Dan Fogel took the helm at UVM I was impressed. Here is a man with vision, he might not win agreement from everyone, but he's looking forward, and challenging everyone around him to stretch him or herself, challenge each other, and push the limits of what we can achieve. In many ways Dan Fogel epitomizes what I tried to model as an athlete, captain, student, and now as a coach and teacher. I'd like to thank both he and UVM's new AD Bob Corran for being courageous enough to not simply leave a sensitive subject alone to settle, but to listen to the impassioned arguments brought forth and to act when they saw what needed to be done.
I would also like to express my regret and sadness over the loss of Tennis, Men's Swimming, and Golf as Varsity sports at UVM. I know the pain of losing your program, and while it's not the end of the world it can certainly seem like you've been abandoned, taken for granted, and passed by despite your numerous athletic accomplishments and contributions to the University. Hopefully someday we can have all of our sports programs supported with the vigor that the marquis sports enjoy, until that day however we have to continue to compete with dignity and grace for ourselves and for the joy of competition.
I'm not sure if I'll write for this page again, or even maintain this website. If you read it and would like me to keep it up please e-mail me and tell me so. That's an important part.
It was kind of a depressing year for this former Catamount captain to watch his old team compete. The XC guys were filled with a lot of heart, but just not a lot of talent. Though heart can take you pretty far in the running game it's tough to really stand up tall when the school you support knocks your legs out from beneath you. The teams did fairly well under the new coaching of Matt and Bonnie Belfield (with the continued support of Joe Gingras of course) and while it wasn't a banner season by any stretch of the imagination at least a few kids were able to run.
The Athletic department at UVM has changed dramatically. More money is being pumped into coaches salaries, it's easier for students to get tickets to and attend games and contests, and the coaching turnover rate seems to have stablized somewhat. I've met Bob Corran once or twice in passing and he seemed like a very pleasant and smart man who is very interested in promoting a positive UVM athletic experience for student-athletes and the general student body alike.
While there have been no outward or public suggestions that the Athletic department may be changing its tune regarding Men's Track, there have been some underground rumblings that yet another restructuring of the Athletic Department is coming about which deffinately would mean more cuts, but also has the slight chance of bringing something back. A great way to help nudge the school in this direction would be to write to the new AD and mention what it would mean to have the Men's track team return. I promise I will do my part with this as well. You can find the AD's e-mail address at the UVM Athletic site, www.uvmathletics.com .
So whatís been going on at UVM in relation to sports? Well here are things as I see it. Interim President Colodny is no longer at the helm, he received many accolades from people in the University as a person who got things done, however, I would like to recognize that a few of the things he suggested and signed off on were certainly not in the best interest of the University and that he was unwilling or unable to discuss or defend his part in the decision to drop Track and Field. I do feel rather privileged that he took the time to write back to me this spring (see the letters posted on this site) but Iím still quite disappointed that he really didnít understand the point I was trying to get across.
The UVM Cross Country team started this season with 2 fewer upperclassmen than there would have been without the cuts, our team will be running against their friends this year whenever we go up against UNH or Providence. I was sitting in the coaches office a few days ago and looked down at a packet on a desk next to me which said UVM Womenís Track and Field, and it really struck me again that there was to be no season for the Men this year. Though everyone is dealing with it in their own way there is still a tremendous sense of loss around our teammates, a melancholy bitterness that Iím not sure will ever truly go away. I canít say that I feel more sorry for my closest friends, the seniors who wonít have the chance to finish off their years at UVM in the same fashion that I did, or the incoming freshmen, who really wonít know whatís been taken from them. That being said, weíre still trying to keep up the fight and have hope that things can be changed. With things like sports programs it is possible to breathe life into them once again and hopefully the leaders at UVM will recognize that this is something that should be done.
We have a new president and a new athletic director coming in next year so there is great opportunity to rectify these mistakes. To President Fogel I suggest this to you. Your recommendation that UVM reinstate the Track and Field program would enamor you to a great number of people. First, it would show alumni as well as current students that you are listening to what is going on at UVM and that you want to follow a course consistent with the wishes and desires of these groups. Second, it would show the state of Vermont that you were willing to take a look at UVM and make changes where changes need to be made, Track and Field is one of the most participated in sports in the state of Vermont and the state university needs to support the interests of those student athletes looking to compete in state at a high level of competition. Finally working to bring back Track and Field would allow people to see that you realize UVM is not a sports factory school. We do not have the powerhouse national teams that exist at schools like LSU and a very small percentage of our student athletes ever go on to compete professionally in their chosen sports. As a student athlete at UVM the student and athlete have always been melded into one, there arenít just the varsity athletes and those that support them in the stands. By denying athletes that want to compete for UVM that chance, we are dooming our student body to become spectators in life rather than participants, this I believe is the total opposite of our athletic mission at the university.
No matter how many trips to Hawaii the basketball team makes or how much spin we put on a banner season, the students at UVM wonít be tricked into believing that their teams can be more than they are. Likewise, athletes that have had their life support taken away will refuse to believe that they are not worth the time and effort that they have dedicated to their sport, themselves, and their school.
Again I must apologize for anyone who still looks at this page, I know we haven't put up anything new in the past few weeks. Hopefully you've been able to stay on top of what's been going on by following our online exploits through the sports information office. Gordon Woodworth has been doing a good job at keeping that updated (he even gave me credit for a win when I came in second at Holy Cross a few weeks ago)! So tomorrow we leave for our final conference meet as a complete Vermont Track and Field team. We are all very positive and are looking forward to some big performances. I'm not going to publish any of them but we've had some absolutely remarkable e-mails going around on the team list for the past few days. The friendship and support that radiate from them are so moving and kind it really shows the spirit of the team. Most remarkable is that they aren't angry or sad, but more hopeful and looking forward to our last great effort. The greatest priviledge that I've had as a captain of this team is to work with such fine people, there really are none better than my teammates and coaches and I will miss them all terribly. We had some disappointing news last night at the Senior Awards Banquet hosted by the Athletic Department. After a nice dinner Jeff Guilmette was awarded with the Sunderland Memorial Trophy which is "And award presented to the senior female student-athlete and male student-athlete who throughout ther college careers have demonstrated a high level of athletic achievement and exemplified qualities of character, leadership and persistence in overcoming obstacles." Don't get me wrong, Jeff by far embodies all of these qualities. They spent about 3 minutes reading over all of his championship achievements, awards and records. However if I may editorialize for a moment here, Jeff Guilmette is the best and most competitive athlete here at the University of Vermont. Period. The award usually reserved for that individual is the J. Edward Donnelly award. I don't want to take anything away from this years winner, but he can't compare to Jeff, and as far as I'm concerned Jeff was robbed and insulted by the folks who decided on the awards this year. Last year another basketball player won the Donnelly award, what happened to him? Sorry, a little of my own bitterness surfacing there, at least Jeff was recognized. In closing I would like to once again thank all of you who have done so much for all of us here through out our year and entire time here at UVM. It hasn't been easy, but we couldn't have weathered the storm half as well if we didn't have the support of our friends and alumni. For those of you at the University who have turned your backs on us, watch us go out in style as one of the best teams at UVM. Realize once and for all what you are putting and end to, and I hope some remorse can make its way into your hearts and minds for you have helped to become a major part of the problem with college sports. Come on Down to UNH everybody! The weather will be nice, the track will be first class, and UVM is going out in style. Thanks again, George Deane
I hope that some fans will be able to make it out, we still have a lot of competing left in this short season and we're expecting to see some big things happen. In terms of our fight to save the team it's not good news. I recieved an e-mail from the Captain of the UMass Amherst team the other day asking for advice on how to mount a campaign against the cuts. Though I offered what we had done it was quite saddening to realize that there isn't a whole lot of hope for changing the minds of administrators. Hopefully the UMass folks are more reasonable than the leaders at UVM. The best we can do is keep plugging away with what we're doing. Keep writing letters to people and trying to get attention to this issue someday someone will hear us. Thanks very much for your support, I hope to see you at a future meet.
Thank you all and take care,
Hi everybody, no giant developments as of late but I'd like to take this opportunity to address a smaller piece of this puzzle where there might be some misunderstanding. One of the reasons we set up this website is so that people could be informed about what kinds of things were going on here. It has come to my attention a number of times in the past few days that there is a real miscommunication in what our efforts are geared towards. The way that I see it we are still working towards our ultimate goal of reinstating Men's Track and Field at UVM. Now we understand that this cannot be done with just a sweep of the hand, we are very willing to do whatever is necessary in terms of fundraising in order to help preserve the Track and Field tradition here. Our other goals when we started off were to get a clear understanding of why this team was cut and the process that was followed in making the cuts. Finally at the very least we as a team would like an apology for the horrendous timing of the decision and the insensitivity that was shown for that release date. From my perspective I don't believe that these demands are asking a lot of our administration nor do I believe that they are unreasonable. One of the most disturbing things that I have seen and heard is Coach Kusiak being referred to as the Osama Bin Laden of UVM. This is totally unacceptable and only shows the skewed views that we are coming up against. Our coach has done nothing but try and save a program that he has dedicated over half his life to. This is a program full of motivated and successful individuals that have given back to this state and this university a great deal. However, it is the belief of some people that our efforts are designed to bring down the university and give it a serious blemish in terms of public relations. Nothing could be further from the truth. We as athletes love our university. Certainly the Track and Field team influenced our decision to come here, but contrary to popular belief most students will not attend a university based on athletic reputation alone. UVM is a wonderful place, there is nothing we would like more to watch it flourish and grow. That has been one of my favorite parts of being a team leader here, meeting new people and helping to be a positive influence. Though there is tremendous anger towards the decision to drop Track and Field, this is because we feel that we have been unfairly dismissed. Even though that anger exists we do not want to "take down UVM". We do not want to hurt admissions, paint the university as an unfriendly place, or encourage alumni not to donate money if our program is not reinstated. Personally I believe that if the university decides not to work with us in correcting their mistake than they have done all those things to UVM without involving us at all. We are not looking for villians in this battle, there has been an error and we have the opportunity to correct it. To err is human, to admit that error and to help correct it shows immense presence of clear thought and character. We want to work with everyone to make UVM the best place it can be, and I for one believe that it is a better place with Men's Track and Field in place.
Thanks for visiting,
Hi everyone. It's been a few days since I've wrote anything that I've published on the web so I feel like I should put something up just in case anyone is actually reading about my continuing thought pattern. This entry however will be short for two reasons. First this writing is helping me to procrastinate in terms of my assigned philosophy reading, which I cannot allow to continue much longer or I will be in big trouble. Second, as far as I can see attitude of the athletes, coaches and administration have not made a noticeable change that is worth reporting. I would like to say a thanks to all of my current teammates. We met again as a team for the first time since we were all called together on the 13th and discussed our situation. I was very impressed by the number of people who were able to show up at such short notice (planning has not been one of my strengths as a captain), I was also very pleased that we have such a deep interest still from our younger athletes, there was a large number of first years at the meeting who contributed to the conversation and affirmed my belief that we as a team are comprised of and attract some of the finest people on UVM soil. That being said let me launch into something else.
This weekend I had the pleasure of accompanying the Cross Country team to the University of Maine where we ran in the 10th annual Murray Keatinge Invitational. For those who don't know this is a meet that brings some of the most elite runners in the country together and provides an incredible Cross Country race of tremendous variety and talent at a local venue. Our Men raced against some of the finest runners in the country toeing the line with teams for Michigan, Stanford, Purdue, as well as more local rivals. Though we only beat two out of eight of these teams I believe it is important to put in perspective that Stanford is a nationally ranked team, they finished 4th in the nation last year, and many of the other teams offer scholarship packages to their athletes that we could never dream of. Yet our Men toed the line with them. They went up against Gabe Jennings, an Olympic athlete, and other people that make the headlines in other important running news sources. Our Men were not embarrassed that their school does not provide them with the financial incentives of their opponents, rather they were anxious to prove their skill as they went head to head in a five mile race through the fields in the back of U Maine's Orono campus. On the same day our Men's Hockey team was taking on the defending national champions at home in the Gutterson Field House. Though their results were relatively comparable to that of the Men's Cross Country team I think that Al Gutterson had more fun watching the competition in Maine. Aside from taking cheap shots across the athletic department I would like to state blankly again that our Men who competed with such poise and pride this weekend, albeit on an uneven playing field where a big win was not expected, would not have been there to represent UVM if our Track team was gone. That's it in a nutshell. The opportunity to proudly showcase Vermont talent on a large scale might remain next year, but rest assured that the Vermont talent will not be wearing the Green and Gold. They will be there in colors that aren't of their home state because the opportunity to compete with success will have been removed. If any administrators read this page please think about that, and remember to root for UVM Cross Country this Friday as they will face national powers again at the New England Championships in Boston.
If you would like meet information from this past weekend click here .
-George Deane, Murray Keatinge award winner 1999, 2000
Has it only been two days since I first wrote on this page? That hardly seems possible. There is a lot that I could say but I feel that a lot of it would just be repetitive of what has already been said. Whereas I think we should be unrelenting with expressing our displeasure to the administration, I think we can all agree that we can spare each other the same arguments that we've been going over for days. First off I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all the folks who have been writing in to us. Your letters have meant a lot to those of us here on the front lines, personally they really serve as an inspiration to me and have helped to keep me motivated, both in activism and in my running. Keep up the good thoughts and remember, 'an e-mail a day keeps more cuts at bay'. Anyway, enough with that cheese and onto some serious thought. In the past few days I have met with a number of people that provided more interesting insights into our situation. Possibly the most interesting was sitting down with Rick Farnham the current AD at UVM. I went into this meeting feeling very apprehensive about talking with him, wondering what it could accomplish and would my voice be heard. I left feeling that my concerns were adequately voiced, but I feel even more worried that this battle is going to be incredibly difficult with seemingly only two ways to end it. One of these ways is to give in, since we know that's not going to happen it seems like all we are left with is the issue of funding. It's no secret that UVM has had a real crisis in terms of funding in general. Despite being one of the most expensive institutions in the country for both in-state and out of state tuition there seems to be a black hole where all the funds disappear to. Well after careful investigation I can assure you that said monies are not to be found in Men's Track and Field, Gymnastics or the Volleyball program. Regardless of that fact from everyone I have talked to that may have had a part in eliminating the sports (even though we still have no one that will really own up to it) readily admits that the only way to reinstate the sports is with funding. This is not meant to be a cry for cash from supporters, though it may turn into that. I think it is incredibly unfair to make the teams who give everything they have to competition for the love of the game cough up more money just to be able to continue the pursuit of excellence in their sport. But at the same time I think it speaks volumes about the people who are involved with these sports, because we are so ready and willing to fund raise, and sacrifice some personal dignity so we might enhance it once again on the playing fields. I think the University should look closely at this. The last thing I want to do is start a battle with other teams who might not have even known about the cuts, but would our tier 3 scholarship athletes do this? Especially if they could have gone to another school to play for money. Maybe not all of the athletes who had their programs cut had the opportunity to get paid to play, but we certainly could have all competed at other institutions and would have if UVM did not have the sports programs we wanted to be part of our college experience. Setting up an endowment for the Track team is an issue that is beginning to raise its head, though I admit I have no firsthand knowledge when it comes to this. If it comes about that this is the only way to save the team I will give what I can, but not for the University which has shown where its loyalties lie. I will give for the students who would like to continue in the tradition of the finest student athletes here at UVM, so that they might have the same opportunities I have had to grow and build relationships amongst their peers. To the amateur athletes who go out and compete not because someone is paying their bills but because they truly believe that sport helps to make them a better person. It is my hope that there are others out there who can agree with me on this point and see that by preserving teams that helped make UVM the great place it was while we were here, we can preserve it as the Alma Mater we want it to be.
The past two weeks have been filled with so many activities that it seems almost unreal. Dealing with the national tragedy was such a task to deal with on its own, that when the University abolished one of the few things that I expected to help me through the crisis, I wasn't sure what to do. Thankfully, even though everyone on the team was put into such a terrible position, the brotherhood and family that we have set up was still in place to offer the support that we so desperately needed. Though I have completed my undergraduate work already and have started towards a masters in education, this experience alone has already helped to transform me as a person. The day two weeks ago when we were gathered together I wasn't sure what to do. I had some sort of idea about what was going to happen because there was a somber mood that could just be felt coming from our coaches as they ran us through the Cross Country workout. I was faced with the difficult task of addressing my team as a leader right after we were told, when in all honesty I felt like anything but a strong leader at that point. Years of being a captain of my teams had not prepared me to address this situation, and I watched the mixed reactions of my best friends as well as a number of new first year students that I had met just a half an hour before. People were shocked, disheartened and confused as to why this happened to us. This is a team that has never asked anything more than a chance to compete for our university, and even managed to do quite well despite the odds being stacked up against us.
Needless to say that in the past two weeks everyone on the team has been working through a lot. Probably one of the most interesting things that I have dealt with is the presence of the media. As a track and field athlete I have enjoyed almost never being recognized for my accomplishments by the mass media. With four school records to my name the first time I was ever interviewed by a person from the Burlington Free Press was the night when I found out we were losing what I had helped to build. Overall however I am optimistic. There is a large (and growing) number of people that disagree with UVM's decision to end the Men's track and field program. The amount of effort that has already been put forward by coaches, members of the team, alumni and supporters has been truly phenomenal. Quite possibly the best thing about the situation is that in messing with endurance athletes who participate in a sport simply because we love it and we want to improve, UVM's administration will finally get a close look at what kind of a team has been in existence here for a century.
Let's keep up the fight until this injustice is corrected. The University made these cuts in part so that our teams could win more, well we're not giving up until we do.