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For the Love of the Game

Wright speaks on integral role of athletics

(This article has been revised from its original print version. It contains a correction and updated information on intramural sports.)

Speaking at a pregame alumni club event on Nov. 18 in Princeton, President James Wright noted that more than 75 percent of Dartmouth undergraduates participate in intercollegiate or recreational athletics, and that Dartmouth graduates emphasize the impact college athletics have had on their lives, "providing teamwork and communication skills—the keystones for a life in leadership.

President James Wright and Stanley Smoyer '34
President James Wright presents a photograph to Stanley Smoyer '34 (left) of the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the new intercollegiate soccer facility. Smoyer gave $4.5 million to name the facility after former coach Alden "Whitey" Burnham. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

"Whether they win or lose in competition, athletics are an integral part of the Dartmouth experience for all of our students," Wright told more than 300 alumni and friends before the final game of the 2006 football season. The Big Green fought hard with Princeton, setting up a decisive fourth quarter, but ultimately lost to the Tigers 27-17.

Describing the importance of athletics to undergraduate life and the balance between excellence in the classroom and on the playing field, Wright said the combination draws the best students and stands out as a distinguishing feature of the College's learning environment.

The athletics facilities crucial to that environment are in the midst of a series of construction projects and renovations that Wright initiated early in his presidency. As part of the $1.3 billion Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience, more than $72 million has been committed to athletics facilities.

"Students know that by coming to Dartmouth their athletic careers will complement, not stifle, their academic goals," Wright said, adding that this expectation emphasizes "traditional and defining strengths of Dartmouth—students who learn to work collaboratively, learn teamwork, and assume leadership roles. These graduates go on to lives that are marked by responsibility and accomplishments. Playing fields, courts, and rinks are good places to learn.

"Athletic programs at Dartmouth are, across the board, stronger than they have ever been," he added, citing some of the accomplishments Dartmouth athletes have achieved over the past year. "Eleven of the College's thirty-four intercollegiate teams made an appearance at a national championship and fourteen teams were nationally ranked," he said, adding that Dartmouth's club teams had also excelled during the year. Figure skating, for example, won the national championship for the third year in a row, while men's slalom skiers won the NCAA championships for the fifth straight year, men's rugby made it to the quarterfinals of the national championships, and women's ultimate frisbee went to the nationals, finishing 11th out of 16 teams. This year, both of Dartmouth's soccer teams vied for the Ivy League title coming into the last weekend of play, and the hockey teams are nationally ranked.

In addition to its varsity sports teams (16 women's, 16 men's, and 2 coed), the College fields 28 club sport organizations of which 19 compete on a regular basis. All told, there are roughly forty different intramural activities at Dartmouth during the year with over 5,000 participants.

"Friends, we all have much to be proud of today," Wright told the crowd. "Our exceptional students—talented both on and off the field—outstanding coaches, and superior facilities are the envy of schools nationwide. If you haven't been back to Hanover for a game recently it's time you planned a trip. Come and see all we've accomplished and allow yourself to be swept up in the contagious enthusiasm of thousands of students, alumni, and community members. These are wonderful young men and women—Dartmouth students."

Wright took the opportunity to congratulate Director of Athletics Joann "Josie" Harper on her June 2006 induction into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame as a "great coach." Sandy Bryan Weatherall ’83 was also among the 10 inductees. "It was a good day for Dartmouth," said Wright.

"This is an exciting time for Dartmouth athletics as we build on our legacy, and your continued support for these young men and women is invaluable," he concluded. "I know our athletes and our coaches look for a sea of green and white whenever they travel to games and your cheers spur them on to greatness. Keep those cheers coming!"


Athletics Projects Completed and in Progress: 1998-2006

  • Scully-Fahey Field - $2,860,000
  • Floren Varsity House - $19,450,000
  • Memorial Field and Track - $2,800,000
  • Boss Tennis Center - $6,040,000
  • Leverone Renovation - $5,310,000
  • Alumni Gymnasium Renovation - $16,100,000
  • McLane Family Lodge - $3,570,000
  • Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse and Fields - $3,280,000
  • Hanover Country Club Renovations - $3,030,000
  • Tennis/Turf Site Work - $1,840,000
  • Burnham Soccer Facility - $8,000,000
  • Red Rolfe Field - to be determined

Total: $72,280,000

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Last Updated: 5/30/08