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
finished up one of its greatest seasons ever. Coach Keith Cieplicki's
Catamounts won the America East regular-season title and then received a
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
first-ever post-season victories in the program's history, and capped off
terrific season highlighted by Coach Cieplicki winning his 100th career
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
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
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
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.
Class of 2001
This is the letter which I received in return:
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,