An open letter to President 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 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.


George Deane
Class of 2001