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Over the past few weeks I have had some interaction with Interim President Colodny over a message that he sent out to the entire campus community. What follows is the message the campus recieved, the letter I wrote in response, and President Colodny's letter back to me.  Though this does not directly affect Track and Field I thought it was an interesting correspondence and shows the kind of communication that we're able to have as students. Regardless of the content, I am very pleased that I got such a prompt reply and appreciate the effort, so thank you for that Mr. Colodny.

On March 25th,  everyone with an active e-mail account at the University of Vermont recieved this message in their inbox from interim President Colodny:


Dear Campus Community:

While many of you were away on spring break, the UVM women's basketball team
finished up one of its greatest seasons ever. Coach Keith Cieplicki's
Catamounts won the America East regular-season title and then received a bid
to the Women's NIT, where they defeated Holy Cross and St. Joseph's to make
it to the Elite Eight!

The wins, played in front of raucous sellout crowds at Patrick Gym, were the
first-ever post-season victories in the program's history, and capped off a
terrific season highlighted by Coach Cieplicki winning his 100th career game
and being named America East Coach of the Year and scrappy senior Libby
Smith being named first-team All-Conference.

In addition to their success on the court, these student-athletes also
performed in the classroom. The team posted an overall grade-point average
of 3.10, with nine players earning a 3.00 or higher for the fall semester.

Please join me in congratulating Coach Cieplicki, his staff and every member
of this remarkable team for their record-breaking season. Word is that next
year's team will be just as good, and we look forward to more exciting
nights at Patrick Gym, cheering on the Catamounts!

President Ed Colodny

My reply:

March 26, 2002

Dear President Colodny,

I must say that the appearance of your e-mail in my inbox yesterday was something that I met with mixed feelings. While I applaud your efforts to show an interest in the athletic community here at UVM, as an athlete I felt very saddened and disappointed to read your message that was sent to our entire campus community.

While it is undeniable that this was truly an exciting and important winter for both the Men's and Women's basketball teams at this university, the fact that you not once, but twice took time out of your busy schedule to acknowledge the accomplishments of only these two teams brought feelings of indignity and inferiority to myself and many of my fellow athletes.

It is a wonderful thing to have any accomplishment recognized by someone, particularly to be publicly recognized by the person in charge of the institution that you are representing. In attributing the best motive to your actions, I am trusting that you simply wanted to share the accomplishments of those teams with a number of us that might not have heard, and that you were not focused on the unintended consequences that your kind words might have had on others.

Though the success of the basketball teams is fantastic for both the university and the athletes, singling out specific teams creates conflicting feelings for many people. While I am no less proud of the basketball teams than anyone at UVM, it is a difficult thing to feel that their success somehow detracts from the important accomplishments of others. There were many great performances turned in this winter which went completely unheralded by you or the media. Even in writing this I am sure I will be missing some truly outstanding athletes that deserve recognition. The gymnastics team was honored as the highest academic performing gymnastics team in the country. The ski team finished in the top 5 at the National competition. My fellow captain Jeff Guilmette won his 7th America East title (despite injury), as well as coming in 4th  place at a meet which hosted over a hundred schools from as far away as Notre Dame and Duke, yet none of these performances garnered any special attention. Perhaps this would put you in a rather compromising position, to be praising the accomplishments of athletes that have been a solid part of programs for which you defended the termination. If this is the case, I urge you to reflect on that issue every now and then, rather than letting it fade from your memory.

As I head into my final season of representing the University of Vermont, along with hundreds of my fellow student athletes, I hope that you will take the time to recognize all of us in some manner for our efforts.  If the track teams had any home meets, I would invite you to come and join others in the raucous support of our team. Perhaps you might be able to make a trip to Dartmouth one weekend when we are competing there. The Catamount athletes that represent UVM do their best whether or not we are anticipating making a national championship or trying to make an ESPN highlight film. This is something I'm sure you realize, but recognizing only those teams which might make highlight films, goes against the spirit of collegiate athletics where competition is still somewhat valued for what effort and determination can mean to someone's character.

A recent editorial in the Free Press talked about how Americans have historically used sports to help build community. While it is fantastic for us all to get behind our sports teams, singling a few out because of public exposure is unfair to those who participate in sports that are not darlings of the media. Athletics at UVM is comprised of more than the 24 members of our basketball teams. Though next year they will comprise a larger percentage of the varsity teams, they will still be joined by a large collection of dedicated and hard working athletes in other sports who want nothing more than to represent themselves and their university to the best of their ability. In a more perfect world everyone would get the attention they deserve for their efforts be it in the classroom, office, or playing field. As a leader in the community it would be nice to see you try to bring more of the unsung heroes into the forefront, rather than supporting only what you know will garner you the most praise. Reaching out to many smaller groups might not seem like wise politicking, but it will help you to be remembered as an individual that was invested in more than what was popular at the moment.

I truly hope that your last few months as the president of this fine institution will be both enjoyable for you and productive for our school.

Sincerely,

George Deane
Class of 2001

This is the letter which I received in return:
response


I am contemplating sending a reply to this letter for two reasons. First, because I would like to see how willing the President is to get into an actual exchange of ideas on the issue, and I'm curious how long he would tolerate and respond to correspondence, regardless of how polite I make it. Second, because even though he responded quickly and even made a point of letting me know that he had read my letter by quoting my words at the end of his letter, I do not believe that he really understood the point I was trying to make. The point is,  it's not that student athletes shouldn't be recognized for their accomplishments, but rather more people should be recognized for what they do instead of widening the gap by heaping accolades on much deserving people who already have a lot of recognition. In any case, I hope that if you read this exchange you found it as engaging as I did.

Thanks very much,

George Deane