A look back at the weekend

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By: Jan Hathorn
Athletic Director

Where to begin? There are so many positives from the past weekend but two things stand out – the Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony and its four impressive inductees, and very competitive contests in cross country, football, volleyball, soccer and field hockey.

First, how do you measure the impact of being inducted into the Hall of Fame? Just listen to the inductees as they talk about how special it is to return to campus, how humbled they are by the honor of being selected, how thankful they are for their experiences at W&L, and how meaningful it is to be among their friends and family who have gathered around them to celebrate.  This singular event captures what, I would argue, most athletes and coaches around Div. III understand about collegiate athletics – it is a life-changing experience.  Now that I have had the privilege to be more involved in this process, the meaning and import of the Hall of Fame is even more pronounced for me. Every year I walk away from the Hall of Fame weekend with a sense of renewed energy for the work we do in this “field” (pun intended!) and remain convinced that the educational benefits of athletics are profound and worthwhile and are indeed, fully supportive of the mission of a liberal arts education.  What a perfect prelude to a weekend jam packed with the first contests for most of our fall sports and a list of opponents that read like the Who’s Who of Div. III athletics.

Which leads me to the other impressive aspect of the weekend – the level of competitiveness of the contests I saw.  Everywhere I went – from the men’s and women’s cross country invitational to the volleyball matches to the football game to the field hockey game – I witnessed a level of competitiveness that was extremely promising.  In particular, the cross country meet was outstanding.  The W&L runners ran HARD and every one of them finished hard. And then, to see runner after runner from the other teams also finishing the race with nothing left to give was not only inspiring, it was extraordinary.  I stood at the finish line of both races, until all runners crossed the line, and with the exception of two or three, athletes were sprinting to the finish line, whether they had the energy to do so or not.  I couldn’t help but ask myself if I did that every time I played a game during college.  And to see that level of play carried out at every other event I attended just overwhelmed me.  I kept thinking, “If this is any indication of the level of commitment our athletes have, then it’s going to be an exciting year!”

I know there is a long way to go before we get to the end of the fall season and have any sense of how we will fare – within the league, the region or the country – but today I carry myself with an even greater sense our purpose and of our dedication to what we do, and, most importantly, the real value that we add to the lives of our students.  As many of us have said for many years, “It’s a great day to be a General!”

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