Thursday, December 23, 2010

UAA Soccer Teams Earn Academic Honors

Four schools in the University Athletic Association have been honored by the National Soccer Coaches of America Association for having men's and women's teams with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

The schools are: Carnegie Mellon, Case Western Reserve, the University of Chicago and the University of Rochester.

The Brandeis women's team also was honored.

Complete list of teams honored.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Greetings From Honey and Me

Honey has been taking some well-deserved rest here in Atlanta since we returned from our UAA trip a month ago. And because I have become something of an RV Whisperer, I know what's on her mind. Honey wishes all the folks of the UAA a happy and prosperous New Year -- and may none of your tires ever blow out on an interstate highway!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Soccer Honors for UAA Players

Brandeis: Four players from Brandeis' women's soccer team have been named to the All-New England soccer team. Taryn Martiniello earned second team honors, and Sofia Vallone, Tiffany Pacheco and Alanna Torre were named to the third team. Read more.

Carnegie Mellon:  Elsa Wu was named to the All Great Lakes Region soccer team, and three men's players were honored. Matt Betzig and Zach Stahl were named to the second team, and Moni Sallam was named to the third team. Read more.

Case Western Reserve: Forward Vinny Bell was named to the third team of the NSCAA/Performance Subaru Men’s NCAA Division III All-America Team. Read more.

Emory: Sophomore Andrew Natalino was named to the third team of the NSCAA/Performance Subaru Men’s NCAA Division III All-America Team. Read more. Freshman Lauren Gorodetsky was named to the second team. Read more.

NYU: Men's soccer players Nick Coulson and Kyle Green were named to the second team of the All East Region. Read more.

University of Rochester: Ellen  Coleman was named to the second team of the NSCAA/Performance Subaru Women’s NCAA Division III All-America Team. Read more.

University of Chicago: Senior defender Claire Denz Ellen  Coleman was named to the third team of the NSCAA/Performance Subaru Women’s NCAA Division III All-America Team.  Read more.

Washington University: Senior Harry Beddo was named a first team All-American on the  NSCAA/Performance Subaru Men’s NCAA Division III team. Read more.  Emma Brown and Lee Ann Fielder were named to the second team All-Central Region.  Read more.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wash U No. 1, Emory No. 6 in Director's Cup

Washington University is No. 1 in the fall Director's Cup standings, and Emory is No. 6. See how the other UAA schools fared. Fall standings

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What's Wrong with 'College Sports'?

When you consider the overall landscape of "college sports," that phrase conjures up mostly an image of big-time, big-money Division I football and basketball.

They produce the most revenue, the most media coverage and the most fans, by far and away over any other element of "college sports." When you consider, however, the thousands of college students who compete in Division III, Division II and what are considered the "lesser" sports in Division I, the number of college students in D! football and basketball is only a handful.

Of course this missperception about college sports is unfair. It is unfair to student athletes, coaches, administrators and family and friends. And it is almost exclusively caused by money and media.

One model to consider in trying to imagine the real form of college athletics is a kind of college sports food pyramid.

The base would include Division III sports, where no scholarships are offered, student athletes are generally treated the same as the overall school population, and little if no revenue is generated. There will be media attention in smaller cities and towns where professional teams and Division I programs don't dominate the community consciousness.

Division II programs would comprise the next level. Scholarships are offered, though on a smaller scale than in Division I; and maximum participation for as many students is encouraged. As with Division I, media attention and fan enthusiasm varies widely based on the overall sports environment in the community.

The top of the pyramid includes layers of Division I athletics. In general, the student athletes are the most accomplished in their sport of any student athletes in the country. The highest level of competition is very competitive indeed. But there are lower level programs and athletes who are not nearly as skilled as those in the top echelon and who would be better suited to compete in Division II or III.

At the pinnacle are  Division I football and basketball.

So what's wrong with college sports? It's a question that university presidents and professors and boards of trustees have been trying to answer for at least 100 years.

Dick Rasmussen, who has been the executive director of the University Athletic Association since its creation in June 1986, wrote his doctoral dissertation about the formation of the conference, and it includes a history of intercollegiate athletics in the United States. It also includes a history of the many attempts by university administrations and educational foundations to evaluate the role and practice of intercollegiate sports and to recommend adjustments to sports programs.

What's interesting is how long colleges and foundations and the NCAA have been asking the same question. Here are some highlights drawn from Dick Rasmussen's thesis (pdf), "The Role of  Intercollegiate Athletics in the Academy — A Case Study of the Formation of the University Athletic Association," and some more recent examples.

• 1882: Harvard creates a Committee on the Regulation of Athletic Sports.

• 1905: Under threat from President Theodore Roosevelt, 62 schools form the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States to establish policies and procedures. The organization becomes the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 1910.

• 1929: The Carnegie Foundation publishes a "The Growth of College Athletics" by Howard J. Savage.

• 1950s: The American Council of Education forms a committee of college and university chief executives to make recommendations about college athletics.

• 1979: The Educational Record publishes results of an American Council of Education inquiry into the conduct of college athletics. The report urged more involvement by boards, presidents and athletic directors.

• 1991: The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics releases a report entitled"Keeping Faith With the Student-Athlete: A New Model for Intercollegiate Athletics."

• 2004: The boards of Directors of the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities  (AGB) published guidelines for the oversight of college athletics.

• 2010: The Knight commission releases another report, entitled "Restoring the Balance," that recommends more openness in college athletics financing and modifying how revenue is distributed. And it urged that athletes be treated as students, not professionals. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the report was prompted in part by statistics showing that from 2005 to 2008, median spending on athletics at most of the public institutions in Division I-A jumped 38 percent, to $84,446 per athlete. Academic spending per student during that same period, in the meantime, grew by 21 percent, to $13,349.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Emory Joins Brandeis in Basketball Top 25

Men's basketball: Emory (6-0) has joined Brandeis (8-0)  in the latest (Dec. 7, 2010) D3 men's basketball poll. Last week, the University of Chicago upset Illinois Wesleyan, which dropped from No. 2 to No. 10. NYU's men's team also received 29 votes.

• Women's basketball:  Washington University (5-1) remained No. 6 in this week's poll (Dec. 7), and the University of Rochester (6-1) moved up one spot to No. 11. Top 25 Polls

UAA Men's Basketball Schedule and Scores

UAA Women's Basketball Schedule and Scores

• Swimming: Four women's teams from the University Athletic Association are ranked in the latest (Nov. 10, 2010) college swimming coaches poll, including Emory at No. 1. On the men's side, five UAA teams are ranked.


• UAA Men's Swimming and Diving

• UAA Women's Swimming and Diving

• Volleyball: In the final AVCA poll (Nov. 23, 2010),  Emory was ranked No. 2; Washington University No. 3; and NYU No. 12.

Final AVCA Division III Volleyball Poll

'The RV Whisperer' - Episode I

Those who know me know that I am not a fashion plate. Heck, I'm not even a soup bowl or a butter dish.

When I worked at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, I was pretty much a khakis, blue shirt, dirty bucks kind of guy. That outfit, along with a blue blazer,  served well for any occasion -- funeral, wedding, dinner with my mom.

RV'ing presents a different kind of sartorial challenge, and it can lead a person to do things they wouldn't otherwise do.

At the beginning of my fall trek across the East and Midwest, I encamped for several days at the Liberty Harbor Marina and RV Park in Jersey City, N.J. They claim to be the closest RV park to Manhattan, and I don't doubt it. You can walk five blocks to catch a PATH train at Grove Street and be in the West Village in about 15 minutes. Or you could take the green line north to Hoboken.

Anyway, I've wasted enough of your time without getting to the punchline.

Truth is, I went to the city one day, wearing my hiking boots and dark socks. When I got back to Honey hours later, my feet hurt and I took off the boots. Then I needed to visit the facilities. I put my sandals on and walked across the parking lot. Before I could say "Bob's Your Uncle," I had crossed the line of wearing socks with sandals. Dark socks.

Looking back, I think it's really a good thing. Made sense, makes sense. Another RV lesson learned.

This blog entry is based on research for my book about the University Athletic Association.

Please email me at with the names of UAA athletes from 1987 to the present who have significant career, personal and community accomplishments since graduation.

Copyright 2010, Kevin S. Austin

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Nerdy Nine

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore was one of the founding members of the University Athletic Association in 1987.

The school's athletic director at the time was Bob Scott, who had coached lacrosse at Johns Hopkins from 1955 to 1974 and won seven national championships. Bob Scott also wrote "Lacrosse: Technique and Tradition," which was published Oct. 1, 1976. It is considered to be the best instructional book ever about lacrosse.

Lacrosse is king at Johns Hopkins, where simply fielding a team is not the goal, where simply fielding a competitive team is not the goal. Year in and year out, the goal of the Johns Hopkins lacrosse program is to compete for and win national championships. The men's team has won 44 national championships since first competing in 1892. The women's team has won three.

Partly because of the travel costs associated with the UAA and partly because of a dedication to Division I lacrosse, Johns Hopkins dropped out of the conference after the 2000-01 athletic seasons.  The Blue Jays joined the Division III Centennial Conference, which also includes Muhlenberg, Swarthmore, Ursinus, Franklin and Marshall, Haverford, Gettysburg, Washington College,, Dickinson, Bryn Mawr and McDaniel.

In lacrosse, however, Johns Hopkins competes in Division I. NCAA rules allow D3 schools to compete and offer scholarships in one men's sport and one women's sport, except football and basketball. Other D3 schools with one Division I program are Colorado College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in men's ice hockey.

Tim Downes, the athletics director at Emory University, served as an associate AD at Johns Hopkins from 1995 to 1999. Steve Duncan, the new head baseball coach at Washington University, was an assistant baseball coach at Johns Hopkins from 2008 to 2010.

The UAA has several nicknames. The "Traveling Conference" and the "Airplane Conference" refer to the fact that UAA athletic teams have to fly to a majority of their conference games. Of course, Case Western Reserve, Carnegie Mellon and the University of  Rochester are within "bus and van" distance, which is how the vast majority of the 450 Division II teams travel.

The "Geek League," another nickname, however, is all about the tendency of UAA athletes to major in subjects such as microbiology, biochemistry or computer engineering. And why shouldn't they? UAA schools are among the most elite academic universities in the country, and most offer a full menu of options for academic pursuits. But the sciences and engineering stand out.

While doing research for my book about the UAA, I visited Brandeis University in October 2010 and stopped at the Rose Art Museum. The Rose is known for its collection of contemporary and modern art. When I told the student who was working at the entrance desk why I was at Brandeis on that fall afternoon, she said, "Oh, you're writing about the 'Nerdy Nine'." That was the first time I had heard that particular nickname.

Apparently the alliteration and cleverness of it has outlasted the fact that Johns Hopkins dropped out.

This blog entry is based on research for my book about the University Athletic Association.

Please email me at with the names of UAA athletes from 1987 to the present who have significant career, personal and community accomplishments since graduation.

Copyright 2010, Kevin S. Austin

Saturday, December 4, 2010

UAA Teams Ranked in Swimming/Diving Polls

Four women's teams from the University Athletic Association are ranked in the latest (Nov. 10, 2010) college swimming coaches poll, including Emory at No. 1. On the men's side, five UAA teams are ranked.


• UAA Men's Swimming and Diving

• UAA Women's Swimming and Diving

UAA Schools in Latest Basketball Polls

Brandeis University is the only UAA school in the latest (Nov. 30) D3 men's basketball poll.
 NABC D3 Men's Basketball Poll

Two UAA schools, Washington University and the University of Rochester, are ranked in the latest (Nov. 30) D3 women's basketball poll.
WBCA D3 Women's Basketball Poll

UAA Men's Basketball Schedule and Scores

UAA Women's Basketball Schedule and Scores

Monday, November 22, 2010

Emory Falls to Calvin in Volleyball Title Match

Calvin College beat Emory University 3-1 Monday to win the Division III volleyball championship.

Emory had won the national championship in 2008, and Washington University won in 2009.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Emory Plays for National Championship Monday

The Emory University volleyball team will play for the NCAA Division III championship on Monday after beating Washington University 3-1 (18-25, 29-27, 25-21, 25-20) on Saturday.

Emory lost to Wash U in five sets on Oct. 16 and beat the Bears in four sets in November for the University Athletic Association title.

Emory plays Calvin College at 3 p.m. ET for the national title. Washington won the national championship last year, and Emory won in 2008.

Check the Emory Athletics website for live video and statistics.

Soccer: The Emory women were the only other UAA school still alive for a national title this weekend, but they lost to Hardin-Simmons 2-1 on Saturday on Hardin-Simmons home field. The Eagles ended the season 16-2-4. No. 2-ranked Hardin-Simmons is undefeated. Match story.

Men's cross country: All five UAA men's teams finished in the top 20 in the Division III championship meet on Saturday: 9. Washington; 10. NYU; 16. Brandeis; 17. Rochester; 20. Carnegie Mellon.

The top five UAA finishers were:
23. James Vavra, Jr 24:50.1, Rochester
24. Michael Burnstein, Jr 24:51.8, Washington
29. Andrew Zitek, Jr 24:57.9, NYU
30. Sebastian Schwelm, Sr 24:59.4, NYU
45. David Hamm, So 25:11.9, Washington

Women's cross country: Washington University finished second in the championship meet, eight points behind winner Middlebury. 2. Washington; 10. Chicago; 18. Case Western Reserve; 26. Emory; 28. NYU.

The top five UAA finishers were:
4. Elizabeth Lawton, Sr 21:22.0, Chicago
6. Taryn Surtees, Sr 21:26.1, Washington
8. Justine Jeroski, Sr 21:28.6, Case Western Reserve
23. Elizabeth Phillips, Jr 21:49.1 , Washington
30. Jessica Londeree, Sr 21:58.2, Washington

Complete results.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wash U vs. Emory in Volleyball Quarterfinals

The Emory and Washington University volleyball teams will meet for the third time this season in Saturday's national championship quarterfinals.

The two teams split their earlier matches in UAA competition.

Washington beat NYU 3-0 and Emory beat Christopher Newport 3-2 in matches played Friday at Washington, which is hosting the national championship.

The match begins at 7 p.m. ET.

On the other side of the bracket, Juniata faces Calvin at 4:30 ET.

The championship match is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday.



Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NCAA Volleyball Tournament Starts Friday

Emory's volleyball team celebrates winning regional championship Sunday.
Here are the matchups for the volleyball championship this weekend at Washington University, with each team's national ranking in parentheses. Wash U, Emory and NYU are all in the same bracket, so there won't be an all-UAA final.

12:30 p.m. Friday - University of St. Thomas (12) vs.  Juniata College (3)
3:00 p.m. Friday - Calvin College (10) vs. University of Massachusetts-Boston (24)
5:30 p.m. - Emory University (1) vs. Christopher Newport University (5)
8:00 p.m. - Washington University in St. Louis (3) vs. NYU (15)

Check the Wash U web site for more information and live coverage on Friday. Washington University Athletics

Emory will play Wheaton in the next round of the NCAA women's soccer championship Friday in Abilene, Texas, at 2:30 p.m.

The teams do have at least one common opponent in the regular season: The University of Chicago. Emory lost at home to Chicago 1-0, and the Maroons lost on the road to Wheaton 1-0.

Check the Emory web site for more information and live coverage on Friday. Emory Athletics

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Emory, Wash U, NYU Advance in Volleyball

All three UAA teams in the NCAA volleyball tournament have advanced to the Finals.
No. 1-ranked Emory beat Cal Lutheran in five sets, while Washington swept UW-Platteville and NYU swept Stevens.
The championships start Friday at Washington University in St. Louis.

In women's soccer, Emory is going to the Sweet 16.
The Eagles beat Lynchburg 1-0 in the second overtime period in a very physical match that included three yellow cards.
The Brandeis women's team lost 6-0 in a second-round match against Williams.

In men's soccer, Wash U lost to Loras in a shootout at  historic Francis Field in St. Louis, and Emory lost to Lynchburg 2-1 in Atlanta.

•  Cross country: Five men's teams from the UAA qualified as at-large teams for the national championship meet: Brandeis, Carnegie Mellon, NYU, Rochester and Washington University.
On the women's side, Emory and Washington University earned automatic bids.
Case Western Reserve, Chicago and NYU all earned at-large bids.
Individual qualifiers are: Hillary Snyder of Rochester; and Emily Wobb and Cortney Baker of Carnegie Mellon.
The championship meets, hosted by Wartburg College, will take place in Waverly, Iowa, on Nov. 20. The men's race starts at 11 a.m. ET, with the men's race at noon.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Update: Chicago Wins UAA Football Title

Emory women celebrate win over Maryville -- a long, long way from my camera.
The University of Chicago Maroons beat Washington University 13-10 at Amos Alonzo Stagg Field to win the 2010 UAA football championship.

The Emory women's soccer team scored two second-half goals to beat Maryville 2-0 at home on Saturday. Brandeis beat Castleton 2-1. In second-round games, the Wash U women lost 2-0 to Otterbein, and Rochester lost to Oneonta State 2-0.

First- and second-round soccer action takes place today in the NCAA regionals. In volleyball, three UAA teams have advanced to today's second-round matches. And UAA cross country runners competed at meets around the East, Midwest and South.

Here are Saturday's matches and times. Results will be updated during the day and on Sunday. Schedules for next week's rounds will be posted when they become available early next week.

• Volleyball
University of Chicago 0, Hope College 3

• Volleyball
Emory 3,  Piedmont College 0
Washington University 3,  Beloit 0 (25-18, 25-13, 25-11)
Case Western Reserve 2,  SUNY-Cortland 3 (26-24, 25-18, 23-25, 17-25, 15-11)
NYU 3, Westfield State 0 (25-10, 25-9, 25-18)

• Women's Soccer
Washington University 2,  Allegheny College 1
Rochester 1,  Western Connecticut State College 0
Wartburg beat University of Chicago in shootout

• Men's Soccer
NYU 2, The College at Brockport 3

• Women's soccer
Emory 2, Maryville (Tenn.) 0
Washington 0, Otterbein University 2
Rochester 0, vs. Oneonta State 2
1:30 p.m. - Brandeis vs. Casleton State College (first round)

• Men's soccer
7:30 p.m. - Rochester vs. Medaille (first round)

• Volleyball (second round)
4:30 p.m. (CT) - Washington University vs. Wartburg College
6:00 p.m. - Emory vs. Washington & Lee
7:00 p.m. - NYU vs. Clarkson University

Cross country
Atlantic: State University College at Oneonta, host
Central: Wartburg College, host
Great Lakes: The Case Western Reserve women finished 3rd with 115 points. The men's team finished 7th with 220 points.
Mideast: Carnegie Mellon University, host
Midwest: Wash U men 4th, 122 points; Chicago men 10th, 244.
New England: Williams College, host
South/Southeast: Rhodes College, host

• Men's soccer
1:00 p.m. CT - Washington University vs. Loras (beat Greenville on Thursday)
6:00 p.m. - Emory vs. Lynchburg College (beat Transylvania on Thursday)

• Women's soccer
1:00 p.m. - Emory vs. Lynchburg.
1:00 p.m. - Brandeis vs. Williams

Correction: This post has been corrected to reflect that the Washington University women's soccer team plays Allegheny College on Friday.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Honey Is Home

Honey is one tough old girl. Just needed some new tires. Thanks babe.
Honey, the girls and I arrived at Williams Mill Road in Atlanta this morning at 1:45. Now I know why  UAA teams travel by airplane.

• Sept. 27-Nov. 10, 2010

• 5,456 miles

• Eight great cities, eight great universities.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this trip possible.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Very Good Day for the UAA

Waiting for the NCAA tournament field at Washington University.
The NCAA announced tournament selections Monday in men's and women's soccer and volleyball, and once again the University Athletic Association came out very well.

Five of eight women's soccer teams  made the D3 field of 64, a record for the conference. The teams are Chicago (conference champion), Emory, Washington, Rochester and Brandeis.

In men's soccer, four UAA teams made the field, including conference champion NYU and Emory, Washington, and Rochester.

In volleyball, another record for the UAA, as five teams were selected: UAA champ Emory, defending national champion Washington, NYU, Chicago and Case Western Reserve. The bids are the first ever for Chicago and Case Western Reserve. It shows how far the conference has come after the recent dominance of Emory, Washington and NYU.

In St. Louis this morning, Washington's women's soccer team showed up early at the athletics complex to watch the scheduled webcast, but they ended up having to wait and wait and wait.
The Bears, who finished second nationally last year,  were on the bubble.
The team, coaches and Athletics Director John Schael gathered in the lobby of the athletics complex for what was supposed to be an 8 am CST live webcast. After waiting a half hour, they were informed that the webcast was canceled and that the field would be released at 9, St. Louis time. They filled the time studying, joking, braiding hair, drinking orange juice and chocolate milk and eating bagels and muffins provided by the athletics department.
No one seemed surprised that the announcement was delayed.

When the field was finally announced, just after 9, I could hear their cheers all the way from the basement office of women's basketball coach Nancy Fahey, whom I was interviewing. (Her team won the national championship last year and in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. They reached the Final Four in four other seasons, and nine trophies crowd the top of a cabinet on the wall behind her desk.)

Now it's time for the Wash U women's team to schedule practices and make travel plans, something every UAA team is used to.

The volleyball team, ranked No. 1 nationally for much of the season, knew they would make the tournament and would have to travel for the regionals because they are hosting the national championship meet this year.

And the men's soccer team earned a bye and will play at home, at least for the first round.

It will make for a busy weekend around the UAA, with seven of eight schools competing in regional tournaments.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tests and Quizzes at Washington University

Jeff Stiles and his wife, Heather, herd children Saturday night.
In the University Athletic Association, the "tests" are on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, between the lines.
And believe me, test results are important here at Washington University.
 But there are also quizzes, and some of them are fun.
Early Saturday night, Jeff Stiles hosted a fun, intra-squad meet for his cross-country and track teams.
It's become a yearly thing at Washington and included some unusual events, such as "how far can you run in 45 seconds," a 1200 meter race, and what was announced as the "Intergalactic Two Mile."
Jeff had charge of his own children, as well as the runners, early in the proceedings until his wife, Heather, took them off his hands. (Kids and dogs are standard at most UAA events.)
He would introduce the runners -- to each other -- before every event with jokes, nicknames and mock announcer  grandiosity.
During the races,  other team members jogged in packs (at least one was wearing a tutu) or worked out on the football field and cheered on their teammates. Jeff called out splits as the runners passed.
Coming one week before the NCAA regional cross country meet, the qualifiers didn't run, but it's a way for those who didn't make the regionals to race one last time. And to mark the end of indoor track's early training for the middle distance runners.
Track and treat.

Saturday, the men's soccer team beat Chicago in overtime 2-1. In seven UAA matches this season, Washington has played six overtime games, winning three, tying two and losing one.
A couple of dozen fans and teammates stormed the field and piled on near midfield after the score, which all but assures the Bears of an at-large bid in the NCAA D3 tournament.

In football, the Bears will play Chicago next week for the UAA championship after beating Case Western Reserve University 14-13, as we like to say in the sports world, a huge win. Case had won the conference for the last two years and had not lost at home since 2006.
The Bears are 7-2 for the first time since 2001 and blocked two field goal attempts to hold on.

In volleyball, the top-ranked Bears lost the UAA championship to Emory University in four sets. Not to worry, however. Washington also lost the UAA  title match last year and went on to win the NCAA championship. (In the course of the tournament, Rich Luenemann's team gave the coach his 1,000th career win.) This year, the NCAA championship will be played here at Washington.

A record of athletics excellence
The Directors' Cup is a ranking of overall athletic achievement compiled by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.
Washington University in St. Louis has done pretty well in recent years:
2009-10  - 3rd
2008-09 - 4th
2007-08 - 2nd
2006-07 - 5th
2005-06 - 7th
So how does Washington do it?
One answer is continuity.
John Schael, the Washington University athletics director, has held that job since 1978.
The university has had only two chancellors during his tenure, and one of them, Chancellor Emeritus Dr. William H. Danforth, was instrumental in the formation of the UAA.
There have been only two deans of students.
And among head coaches, eight have been at WUSTL for 10 years or more; two have been here more than 20 years on staff; one has 30 years.

When I talked to John on Saturday in the stands of Francis Field during the men's soccer match, he added two more points: Success brings success and people build programs.

Honey update
Honey sprung a leak, and it's ugly. The kind of leak that leaves a mark and a smell.
Honey and the gates of Francis Field.
It must have happened because the temperature reached 26 on Friday night. Or maybe her plumbing just gave out. I doused it with bleach.
I had to drive into St. Louis this morning (I got lost) and find a year-round RV park with "dumping" facilities.
Problem solved, but now I'm going to have to find other facilities.
We're parked inside the massive iron gates of The Francis Field. It's on the Register of Historic Landmarks and, along with nearby Francis Gymnasium, was built for the 1904 Olympics. Most of the stands that once held 19,000 have been removed. Today, one long section remains along the south side of the soccer/football field that holds about 3,300 fans. It has Field Turf, and a modern, dark clay colored eight-lane track named Bushyhead Track. The light standards are old, faded utility poles crowned with banks of floodlights, and one has a security camera attached. According to Wikipedia, it is one of the oldest sports venues west of the Mississippi still in use. That's pretty vague, but there's no doubt that it is really old AND still being used.
Honey is honored.

The loneliness of the SID
Chris Mitchell was first in, last out of the Washington press box.
Along my 45-day trek, I have pestered and annoyed every Sports Information Director at each of the eight UAA schools.
And I'm not done yet.
They're mostly sports junkies, stats nuts, writers, facilitators and multi-taskers. They work long hours and almost always on weekends.
Amazingly, not one of them has snapped at me -- yet.
I'm grateful for their support and forbearance. Here they are in geographical order: Jeff Bernstein (NYU), Nick Minerd (Case Western Reserve), Mark Fisher (Carnegie Mellon University), Dennis O'Donnell (University of Rochester),  Anthony Moscaret (UAA), Adam Levin (Brandeis University),  John Farina (Emory University), Dave Hilbert (University of Chicago), and Chris Mitchell (Washington University).
On Saturday, after the teams and coaches and fans had left Francis Field, Chris was still writing away, filing stories for the Washington University website about a full day of games and matches.

Friday, November 5, 2010

4,765 miles later

A Union Pacific track rig parked at the Auburn Travel Center truckstop on I-55.
I woke up this morning about 5:15 on my couch, in Honey, parked at a truck stop off Interstate 55 near Auburn, Ill. It is really cold.

My dogs, Claire and Leia, are anxious to get back to Williams Mill Road and their big, white and elusive German Shepherd friend,

My generator stopped in the middle of the night, as it usually does. I got dressed in the dark, went outside and pulled and pulled and pulled and pulled on the starter cord, as I usually do, first with my left arm, then with my right. Out of gas. I filled the tank and pulled some more and played with the choke until it kicked in and kept running. Then I made coffee.

The final stop of this road trip is close. Washington University, 80 miles away in St. Louis, where I will interview several coaches who have won national championships and the school's chancellor emeritus for the book I am writing.

When I set out Sept. 27, my speedometer read 59,584. This morning it reads 64,349. A lot of miles to see 14 college soccer games.

Miguel lives in a motel at exit 100.
My aim is to connect an athletic conference that is not bound by geography, but is bound by the idea that excellence in the classroom and excellence on the playing fields are not mutually exclusive. An athletic conference comprised of the best universities in the country, in the biggest cities in the country. Schools known for their scientists, their writers, their artists, their doctors, their thinkers.

The classes I attended ranged from advanced calculus to abnormal psychology to economics to micro-biology to the films of Andy Warhol. The professors were intent, the students attentive (mostly).

I passed president's  birthplaces, Civil War battle sites, historic "furnaces." I crossed  Riverthe Erie Canal, the Illinois and Michigan Canal, the Allegheny River, the Potomac River, the Chicago River, the Cuyahoga River, the Delaware River, the Chattahoochee River. I saw Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Springfield, Lake Alatoona, Lake Michigan, the Atlantic Ocean.

I stopped at Travel America Centers, Pilot truck stops, Shell stations, Marathon stations, Flying J truck stops, Love's truck stops. Exxon and Gulf. BP.

The coaches were intense and measure their success not only in wins and losses but in how their charges grow while at school. And how they achieve in life four or five years after graduating. They are determined to win as competitors and dedicated to teaching their kids about life as well as coaching them on the fields and courts. The kids are articulate, self-aware, passionate about their sport. They breed hope.

From Atlanta to New York to Cleveland to Pittsburgh to Rochester to Boston to Atlanta to Chicago to St. Louis, Honey has rolled along Interstate 85, Interstate 77, Interstate 81, Interstate 78, Interstate 280, Interstate 80, Interstate 77, Interstate 90, Interstate 271, Interstate 480, Interstate 80, Interstate 76, Interstate 79, Interstate 279, Interstate 579, Interstate 79 and 90 again, Interstate 490, Interstate 90 again, Interstate 87, Interstate 90 again, Interstate 95, Interstate 90 again, Interstate 84, Interstate 684, Interstate 87, Interstate 95, Interstate 78, Interstate 81, Interstate 77, Interstate 40, Interstate 85 again, Interstate 75, Interstate 24, Interstate 80 again, Interstate 90 again, Interstate 55 and Interstate 64.

And this morning I am parked at another truck stop. Rows of bright green and red and blue diesels are lined up at the pumps., idling a capella There are long-haul truckers and local rigs towing yellow earth moving equipment or open cage trailers full of long plastic pipe or anonymous trailers simply painted white.

Big men made even bigger by their cold-weather coats and vests and sweatshirts and bright orange safety vests climb down from their rigs to fuel up with breakfast rolls and coffee and cigarettes.

I talked to one of them, Miguel, who works for Union Pacific. He's on a welder with a huge crew that is installing high speed tracks from Alton to Chicago. His huge white truck has a Union Pacific logo on the side, track-rider wheels tucked up underneath, oil cans, gas cans, a generator, a welder, wrenches, water and track pullers, which draw the rails together end to end so they can be welded.

Miguel's hair is long and dark and reaches the collar of his canvas coat. He has several ear piercings. He's been on the job for months, and still has months to go and hasn't been home in a long time. He stays in an economy motel at Exit 82 off Interstate 55 with the rest of the high speed crew.

Sitting in the shotgun seat five feet above me, he tells me that the most amazing piece of equipment is just up the road. A massive contraption that picks up and discards old ties in the front end and lays new rails and concrete ties out the back end. At least I think that's what he said over the sound of idling diesels. Sounds like some new-fangled  horseless carriage. I should go see it, he says, but I probably won't, because it will mean backtracking several miles.

Then I ask Miguel where he lives. Grand Junction, Colorado, he says, which is where I had my first newspaper job 29 years ago.

I'm coming home.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Notes From the University of Chicago

Leia and Claire watch TV, unimpressed by Jay Berwanger's Heisman trophy.
I'm winding up a four-day visit to the University of Chicago today, and headed to St. Louis and Washington University.
The weather, in case you care, has been mostly beautiful if partly cold and cloudy.
One wing of the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center.
From my parking place on South Drexel, I could see the men's and women's soccer teams practice, and the football players click-clack to their workouts in the new Amos Alonzo Stagg Stadium. I also could hear the whistles of the referees for flag football, which is played until midnight most nights.
The quad at the University of Chicago.
To the north of the playing fields is the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center, which opened in 2003. Ratner was a contact hitter for for Chicago in the 30s and contributed $15 million to the $51 million facility which, which was designed by Cesar Pelli. The exterior is light sandy-colored brick and there are five, thick white masts rising 60 or 70 feet above the the two wings that bear gentle, curved roofs. Each mast is threaded with three sets of five cables  that stretch down to the foundation and support. the interior.
An industrial circus tent.
There's a large paved plaza facing Ellis Street and a grass lawn. Just a beautiful, modern building, in a city and on a campus famous for its architecture.
The old quad is ringed by neo-gothic, sandstone classroom buildings with steep gabled roofs, crocketts and gargoyles. A very serious place. The only graffiti in the entire quad was the word "VOTE" neatly painted on a sidewalk in red, white and blue.
I visited one economics class in Harper, the university's original library now converted to classrooms. The hall was long, with a very high ceiling and wood paneling at least six feet high along each wall. The mullioned windows reminded me of church. The massive, exposed plaster beams were carved. The dark wooden archway over one set of double doors was carved. No whiteboards here, no powerpoint slides, just an old school black board that the professor filled with theorems and a graph about the relationship between labor and capital in an imaginary country's economy. A space to impress the rowdiest of college students.

Yes, that's the first Heisman
Chicago has a long, deep athletics tradition, highlighted by the dominance of football under Amos Alonzo Stagg. The dominance was so thorough in competition and on campus that President Robert M. Hutchins shut down the football program in 1939, calling the sport "a major handicap to education in the United States" and stunning the world of college athletics. (The class I attended was in Harper Memorial Library, named for , the university's first president and Stagg's former divinity professor at Yale). In 1969, the Maroon football program was resurrected in the NCAA's Division III. No scholarships, only scholars. And players.
Jay Berwanger, the Chicago halfback from Dubuque, Iowa, won the first Heisman trophy in 1935, then called the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy. It sits enclosed in a glass case in the Ratner center's atrium, along with dozens and dozens of artifacts of Chicago's athletics past. Maroon letter sweaters with the Chicago C; old, fat autographed footballs; and "modern era" plaques marking Chicago's accomplishments in the University Athletic Association.

Four blocks from Obama's house
Steve Sunderman spares my life.
One of my favorite UAA athletes is Steve Sunderman, a 250-pound heavyweight wrestler at Chicago. I like to call him the grapplin' farmboy, and he doesn't seem to mind. At least he hasn't snapped my neck off yet.
Steve was raised in western Nebraska and has worked most of his life on his family's farm, where they raise beef cattle and chop down thistles in the summer.
He  was pretty happy Wednesday morning when we talked, because of the Republican surge in the mid-term elections. Steve is vice president of the College Republicans, which meets once a week and gathered Tuesday night to watch the election results.
"Obama's house is four blocks away," he told me, and he says the majority of folks around campus are "liberal-leaning." But he fits in well with the economics department, which is "mostly free market and fiscally conservative."
Besides liberals, Steve and his teammates also have to contend sometimes with the nasty skin diseases that continually plague wrestlers. He ticks them off like Senate election results -- Ringworm, impetigo, herpetic outbreaks, folliculitis. Just another occupational hazard for mat-men. This year he's No. 2 on the depth chart, behind a senior heavyweight who Steve says is more of the liberal bent. Before the first match of the season, they'll have a wrestle-off to decide the future of the country.

On the fields and courts
The Chicago men's and women's soccer teams travel to St. Louis this weekend for Saturday matches and UAA finales against Washington University. The women's team already clinched the UAA championship and an automatic NCAA tournament bid. The football team, which gave Case Western Reserve University its first loss in 38 regular season games last week, travels to Pittsburgh to play Carnegie Mellon. And the UAA volleyball championship tournament takes place at Case in Cleveland on Friday and Saturday. Chicago is seeded fourth.

Against my better judgment
Wednesday afternoon I appeared on a live webcast via Skype for a startup outfit called The Pulse Network. Couldn't stand to watch the replay myself, but for those of  you who want a good laugh at my expense, here's the link. If you need a laugh, watch this.

Corrections always welcome
Please email me with any corrections.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Atlanta to Chicago. Check.

Parents line up to take pictures of their girls gathered in the goal mouth Sunday.
I have always believed that if you can't write, you should make lists.
Here is a recounting of my 723 mile trip in Honey from Williams Mill Road in Atlanta to the intersection of 56th Street and South Drexel in Chicago.
Honey is pointed east, and in front of me are the University of Chicago's athletic fields, nearly a city block of healthy grass with aluminum stands and goal posts. A calming sight in a big, flat city.
I left Atlanta at 8 a.m. Saturday and arrived at the Chicago-Brandeis women's soccer match at noon (CDT) Sunday.

Saturday, 09:33:01 - Cartersville, Ga. - 23.394 gallons - $65.48
Saturday, 3:22 p.m. - Unknown - 33.716 gallons - $91.00
Saturday, 10:28 p.m. - Crothersville, Ind. - 26.795 gallons - $75.00
Saturday, 10:34 p.m. - Crothersville, Ind. - 3.713 gallons - $10.39
Sunday, 08:53:24 - Demotte, Ind. - 21.315 gallons - $60.94

Although this list is lean on narrative tension, it does reveal certain information, such as: I bought more gas in Indiana than Georgia; this trip is an incredible drain on finite oil reserves; I don't know where I was at 3:22 Saturday afternoon; what I have "saved" by traveling in a 1984 RV I have spent several times over in gas; I can't write a lick.

It was a very long haul. The longest stretch in a limited time  -- Atlanta to Chicago in 29 hours. Along the way I also had to dump Honey's holding tanks (never a pretty scene). As a person new to RVing, I am just learning the importance of finding an appropriate dump station in advance. There are Web sites that keep track of such things. What they don't tell you is that some dump stations are constructed in a way to prevent Honey from back her behind close enough to the pit. Wasted an hour and a half at that place -- stood in line for 10 minutes to buy the dump token, tried for 20 minutes to get Honey within dump range, tried for 20 minutes to borrow a longer hose, stood in line for 10 minutes to return unused token, pouted and swore for 30 minutes.

But by noon I had arrived, just in time to see the end of the first half of the soccer match.
About an hour later, the University of Chicago women had beaten Brandeis 2-0 and clinched the 2010 UAA women's soccer championship.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tradition, Dominance, Pitching In at Emory

Last week I visited Emory University, in my own backyard.
Some folks have suggested that I would favor Emory in my UAA research because I have lived in Atlanta and near the campus since 1983.
Not so.
Doc Partin's letter sweater in Tim Downes' office
And to prove it, I got lost, as I have done at Rochester, Carnegie Mellon and Case Western Reserve. My Atlanta friends may marvel at my idiocy, but it comes down to whether Springdale intersects with Oxford. It doesn't. You have to take a two block jog on Emory to get to Oxford. Thankfully I wasn't driving Honey so I didn't run up my mileage needlessly.

At Emory, Doc lives
Hanging in the office of Tim Downes, the athletics director at Emory, is a slightly moth-eaten glaringly yellow letter sweater that belonged to Doc Partin, the "patron saint" of Emory athletics and physical education.
He came to Emory as a student after the war, which is how my parents and their generation always refer to World War II, and didn't retire until 2002. His full name, William Clyde Partin Sr., was replaced by "Doc" after he earned his PhD from Vanderbilt.
He was Emory's AD from 1966 to 1986, but his involvement in Emory athletics lasted from 1950 to 2002.  He died in June 2009.
When you read the tributes to Doc written at the time of his death, it's easy to wish that you had known him.
"His love for Emory, our athletes, and our community was something you felt the moment you met Doc.  And from that moment, you knew you had a new best friend!" wrote Jenny McDowell, who has led the Eagles volleyball program into national prominence and won the D3 championship in 2008.
"Clyde Partin was the best of us.  He was a mentor to many, a great story teller, the best ambassador Emory University ever had, a lunch buddy and a dead pull hitter," wrote John Curtin, the cross country and track coach.
Today, Tim Downes is carrying on Doc's legacy as the Clyde Partin Sr. Director of Athletics, a position endowed by alumna Deb Jackson. (Downes was born in 1966, when Partin had already served Emory for 16 years.)
After Doc's death, a family member found his letter sweater from the '40s and wanted Tim to have it.
In Doc's day, there were no endowed chairs for athletics, and in our world there are lots of  PhDs. But very few Docs.

A coaches' work is never done
While visiting Emory last week, I interviewed Jenny McDowell and Jason Zimmerman.
Taylor and Trevor Zimmerman with Honey.
Jenny has a national championship trophy in her office from volleyball in 2008. Jason's goal is to win one in men's basketball.
Emory volleyball is so good that, along with Washington University, they form a nearly impenetrable top tier within the University Athletic Association. Any UAA team that wants to contend nationally first has to get by those two.
This year is no different, with Emory ranked No. 2 and Wash U. No. 1 in the latest D3 poll.
As I was wandering around the Woodruff Athletics facility last week, though, I saw the fullness of coaching a national championship team. hours before their Friday night matches, there was Jenny down on the empty court clearing loose volleyballs from the court and making sure everything was set up properly. Later, I came across her lugging folding tables into a meeting room for the team's post-game event.
It's a UAA thing: Attention to detail and doing what it takes to get things done. By the way, Tim Downes the AD also helped with the tables. Last year, at the UAA volleyball championships, I saw Tom Weingartner, the University of Chicago AD and former Stanford linebacker, moving trash cans between matches to help out the facilities staff.
Later that day I ran into Jason again, this time with his wife, Traci, and children, Trevor and Taylor. They were back on campus for the Emory soccer matches against Rochester.
It's not unusual to run into coaches attending games or matches to support their colleagues and athletes.
Because it was close to Halloween, Jason's kids were in costume, appropriately dressed as an Emory cheerleader and basketball player. They were intrigued by Honey, my 1984 RV, so Jason had them pose for a picture by her side.

Farewell, Terry
Terry Gurnett has coached women's soccer at the University of Rochester for 34 years, and this season is his last. He is the all-time wins leader among D3 women's soccer coaches, and third among all NCAA divisions. His teams have won two national championships.
Before the match Friday night, Emory honored him by announcing his accomplishments over the loudspeaker system and with a short presentation.
Terry Gurnett's players joined in the post-match presentation.
After the match, the Rochester alumni group in Atlanta further honored him under a bright tent and catered meal at the end of the stands.
Terry has wide-ranging interests, say his friends and colleagues, so the alumni group presented him with one of the huge volumes of the Oxford University series the History of the United States to keep him occupied. He will also continue working at Rochester as an associate AD.

On the pitch
After this weekend's matches, the Emory men are 3-1-2 in conference play and 1 point behind NYU for the conference championship and automatic NCAA D3 tournament bid. They were ranked 14th nationally in the Oct. 26 poll and play at Carnegie Mellon Nov. 7 in the last regular season match. (my friend Keith Graham, who along with his wife, Chrys, always picks the Dutch in our World Cup pools, attended with me).
The Emory women are 3-1-2 and tied with Wash U. for second place. (The University of Chicago women clinched the conference championship Sunday against Brandeis.) The Emory women, ranked 6th in the latest poll, also finish the regular season against Carnegie Mellon Nov. 7 in Pittsburgh.
National tournament selections are announced Monday, Nov. 8.

Coming Up
Honey and I made it from Atlanta to Chicago on Saturday and early Sunday, the longest and shortest leg of my trip. I can see the top of the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower from where I am parked.
Read about backfires, windmill farms and the nastiest stretch of road ever coming soon on this blog.
New national polls are out Tuesday, the UAA cross country championship was Saturday and the volleyball tournament is this weekend.

How many ...
Joke texted to me this weekend by my son the art student:
How many performance artists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
-- I don't know, I left before it was over.

Skype me up, Scottie
Wednesday at 2:45 Central Time I am scheduled to appear on a live webcast. The victims are, a social TV network.
"It's What's Next, Now."
That's why they scheduled me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Polls: Where UAA Schools Stand

Leia and Claire on Freedom Park in Atlanta this morning. Ready to roll.
As the UAA soccer teams head into the final weekend of double travel games (Friday and Sunday matches), here are the latest national rankings. Plus rankings in cross country and volleyball.
Rochester travels to Emory and Carnegie Mellon; Case Western Reserve travels to Carnegie Mellon and Emory; Brandeis travels to Wash U and Chicago; NYU travels to Chicago and Wash U; Honey travels to Emory and Chicago, God willing and the tires don't blow.
The NCAA's Division 3 includes more than 450 college and universities competing in varsity athletics.
 The UAA cross country championship meet is Saturday, Oct. 30, in New York City at Van Cortlandt Park. Take the 1 train to the Bronx. It's the last stop.
 The UAA volleyball championship tournament is Nov. 5-6 at the Veale Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Take the RTA Healthline bus east on Euclid Avenue to Adelbert Road, across from Severance Hall. If the driver calls out "next stop Erie," you've gone about 100 miles too far.

Best National Universities - U.S. News & World Report , Sept. 2010
9. University of Chicago
13. Washington University
20. Emory University
23. Carnegie Mellon University
33. New York University
34. Brandeis University
37. University of Rochester
41. Case Western Reserve University
86. University of Colorado (OK, CU isn't in the UAA, but it's where I matriculated. Twice)

Football - AFCA
23. Case Western Reserve (unranked)

Men's Cross Country - USFCCCA - Programs: 389
These are the Oct. 20 rankings. The next national poll comes out Nov. 3.
7. New York University
9. Washington University
24. Carnegie Mellon 25. Brandeis
29. Rochester
30. Case Western Reserve
Women's Cross Country - USFCCCA - Programs: 4117. University of Chicago
15. Case Western Reserve
16. Washington University
26. Emory 35. NYU

Volleyball - AVCA - Programs: 429
1. Washington University (2)
2. Emory University (4)
15. NYU (17)
21. University of Chicago (20)

Women's soccer - NSCAA - Programs: 427
6. Emory University (8)
22. Rochester (24)
Brandeis and Chicago also received votes

Men's soccer - NSCAA - Programs: 406
7. Rochester (21)
12. Washington University (15)
14. Emory University  (18)
Carnegie Mellon and NYU also received votes

Information on the number of D3 programs in each sport was provided by Anthony Moscaret, sports information director for the University Athletic Association.

Honey is in the shop
Sunday night, the refrigerator in Honey, my RV, fell out of its cabinet. Too much shaking, rattling and rolling across Manhattan, the GW bridge and the New Jersey Turnpike.
I have her in the shop today, Great Escape RV of Tucker, Ga., where my friend Richard is going to brace her foundation so she'll be ready to roll Friday night for Chicago after the Emory-Rochester men's game in Atlanta.

Something old, something new
Stuff I don't need. Not shown: Microwave oven.
One thing I learned on the first 2,600 miles of my trip to visit every UAA school is that you don't really need that much stuff when you travel in an RV.
Most of it will get lost or go unused or both.
I am off-loading a microwave, hand weights, blue blazer, some clothes, personal file folders and a huge roll of bubble wrap (don't ask).
However, I am picking up 110 pounds of canine. Lisa, the kindly neighbor lady who was taking care of my dogs, says she will miss them these next two weeks but that they need to be with me on the road. Should be interesting.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Colors, Honey's Fridge, UAA Priorities

Is there a law against taking photographs while you are driving? Fall in Va.
The fall season is more optimistic than spring.
Louder, showier.
Fall's prediction of renewed life is bolder, because to believe in new life you have to look past fall, past winter, and believe in the spring.
It's difficult not to wax cliched when writing about the scenes I have seen from northeastern Ohio, southwestern Pennsylvania, western New York State and Massachusetts along the way.
This morning, as I head down I-81 toward North Carolina, bright trees line the highway and pop in the grass median.
My fridge took a licking, but keeps on ticking.
I saw Holsteins grazing amid gray rock outcroppings in Pennsylvania, and a rusty red vine wrapping the trunk of a bright orange hard wood in West Virginia.
Fall is sprung.

A UAA nugget
I have been emailing back and forth with Leo Kocher, the wrestling coach at the University of Chicago, about setting up an interview time when I am in Chicago next week.
(He has coached Chicago wrestling for 32 years, including 21 All-Americans and two D3 champions. In Cleveland, the Case Western Reserve wrestling coach, Bob Del Rosa, has mentored the grapplers for 44 years including four national champions.)

We finally agreed on a time, and Leo also invited me to practice. When I told him I probably would come on Tuesday, he reminded me that practice Tuesdays is at 6, because it's science lab day.

Honey is the mother of invention
Last night about 6 as I was entering New York or crossing the GW bridge or bumping along the New Jersey Turnpike, my refrigerator fell out.
The cabinet that once held it in place gave out at the top. It's kind of hinged now, with the bottom still attached to the cabinetry and the top swinging free.
The fridge is fixed now, with a couple of 2 X 2s and an aluminum pole that I also use to prop up my hinged bed platform platform when I need to get something out.
I also tied an empty plastic bag around the pole so I won't hit my head when I "cross the kitchen."
And she's still cool. Saved my beer.

The commonwealth of mixed messages
Virginia license plates used to say "Virginia is for Lovers." Perhaps they still do, but there isn't a single Virginia car parking in the welcome center where I am taking a break.
But on the sign marking the Commonwealth of Virgina at the border with West Virginia, the current message is "Virginia Is Open for Business."

What about Honey's tires?
Yesterday it took me about four hours to drive 30 miles because I had to stop at an interstate truck stop soon after setting out.
I thought I had blown another tire. Upon further review, the mechanic figured out that the rubber valve stem extensions that facilitate airing up double truck tires had been installed improperly and my shiny plastic fake chrome wheel cover had carved them like a knive slices into a pumpkin. Thank goodness only one went flat.

Don't forget ...
... to read the story all about this road trip. Click here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This Is Getting Ridiculous

Honey is the smaller, forlorn rig in the center of the photo.
On Thursday I bought two new tires at Hogan Tire Service in Waltham, Ma.
This morning I departed Waltham about 9:45 and had another blowout about 11.
Gary checks out Honey's tires. "Inside tire is flat," he said.
Didn't realize what had happened at first, but pulled in to a TA center on Interstate 84.
Now I'm sitting and a little bit unhappy. Waiting for Honey to get pulled into a service bay to see what my options are. Really anxious to get back to Atlanta for a couple of days. Only 1,023 miles to go.
The good news is that I double checked my fantasy football lineup this morning and activated Robbie Gould of the Bears because my regular kicker, Nate Kaeding of the Chargers is hurt.
Reminds me of the wisdom of that old saw, "Always draft a back-up kicker."

At least a couple of people have mentioned that they were jealous of my adventure. At this moment,  it seems to me there is nothing of which to be jealous.

Stay tuned for tire news.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Article About UAA Road Trip on

Sunrise in Jamaica Plain from the house where my son lives.
Good morning from Boston, where I slept in a house without wheels last night.
Visiting my son Benjamin for two days before heading to Atlanta on Sunday. (Last month I visited Joe, my older son, in Brooklyn during my NYU stop.)
There's a break in conference play in soccer, and the volleyball and cross country championships are coming up. NYU hosts the cross country championships at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx on Oct. 30 (take the 1 or 9 train and get off at 242nd Street). Case Western Reserve University hosts the volleyball tournament in Cleveland on Nov. 5-6. Conference play in soccer resumes Friday and Sunday.

There's an article about the UAA and my road trip on Check it out.

Go to article posted on

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wish Brandeis Wasn't Built on a Hill

Spring ball ended last week, so it's time to fix up the Brandeis baseball field.
Brandeis University is the fifth stop on my gas-hogging UAA road trip, and it feels like a marathon, now. I haven't hit the wall, but I know it could come around any turn.
Honey, my 1984 RV, and I left Atlanta on Monday, Sept. 27. Her speedometer read 59,584 (in 1984, the speedometers in Ford trucks only went as high as 99,999). Today, she's at 62,231. That's 2,647 miles -- so far.
That hill is steeper than it looks.
Honey's estimated carbon footprint, according to a woman named Katrina at the University of Rochester, is 4.1 tons per thousand miles. If I ever do this again, I'm getting the students of the UAA to design me a deep-fat-fryer-fueled green RV. Only obstacle will be eating all those french fries, but I think I can do it.
Brandeis was founded in 1948 and is named for Louis D. Brandeis, the first Jewish associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Brandeis is on a big, big, BIG hill in Waltham (wall-THAM), Ma., just outside Boston. From the perspective of my 59-year-old overworked legs, its most significant architectural feature is long sets of steps, most of them going up.

Here's a rundown of my visit:

Sunday, Oct. 18
• Arrive at 7 a.m. after Honey blew a tire on the Mass Pike.
• Attend UAA soccer matches against Emory University, which is in Atlanta, which is where I have a comfortable bed and two sweet, but totally untrained dogs named Claire and Leia. (Lisa, my kindly neighbor lady, has been wrestling with them since I left.) The Emory women won, the men's match was a tie.
• Check the number of page views on my blog. 
• Sheryl Sousa, the Brandeis AD, tells me about the UAA's commitment to academics first and to providing a first-class athletic experience for its D3 athletes. Events are run with professionalism and precision. (Sousa is a Brandeis grad, and played volleyball here with Karen Farrell, the current volleyball coach at Case Western Reserve University. There's a lot of in-breeding in the UAA, but the gene pool is so deep that it seems to strengthen the conference.)

Monday, Oct. 19
• Check the number of page views on my blog. 
• Meet the guy whose regular parking space I took. "You better have pancakes," he says.
• Attend an American Studies class about the '60s, with Mia DePalo, a basketball player from Rumson, N.J. Jacob "Jerry"Cohen is a legend here. In fact, some students are known to "minor in Jerry Cohen." He has played basketball with the Celtics of the '70s and tennis with his friend the late Howard Zinn. (I assume Zinn was a southpaw, but I didn't get to ask.) Zinn once taught at Spelman College in Atlanta, where Emory University is located, and he graduated from NYU, one of the eight schools in the University Athletic Association.
An evening with Jerry Cohen.
Cohen dramatizes the events in his lectures, doing the voice of the chancellor of Berkely who ordered students out of Sproul Hall in 1964 and doing the voice of the student who responded "Blank you!"
• Check the number of page views on my blog. 
• Visit the Goldfarb and Farber libraries, where the librarians I meet are as funny and loose as a soccer team eating a pre-game meal. When I ask what collections are the most prized and most popular, Sarah Shoemaker reels of a list so quickly and so long that I pray my digital recorder is working.
• Interview Luke Teece, leading scorer this season for the men's soccer team. His father went to Brandeis and played soccer for the same coach as Luke, Mike Coven, who is in his 38th year as head coach and won the D3 national title in 1976. This has been a turn-around season for Luke, who only seemed to hit the post last year.

Tuesday, Oct. 20
• Check the number of page views on my blog.
• Cook pancakes for the guy whose parking space I took. He turns them down. "I hate pancakes," he says. "I was just joking yesterday. I'm like that."
• Eat 16 pancakes.
• Check the number of page views on my blog.  • Talk to Mike Coven, the soccer coach, who is actually shorter than I am but who has lifted a lot more weights and pedaled a lot more miles on the stationary bike. Mike is a very funny guy with a Boston accent who stays loose but takes the game seriously, very seriously. In a non-conference match Wednesday afternoon he came unglued when his team gave up a meaningless goal at the end on a corner kick. Brandeis 3, Springfield College 1.
Anita Hill was on campus Wednesday. So was local TV.
• Talk to Pete Varney, briefly, the legendary (did I use that cliche earlier?) Brandeis baseball coach who as a tight end caught the two-point conversion pass in 1968 for Harvard's 29-29 win over Yale. Varney played in "The Show" for several years and his nickname was "Big Fella." About being known for the catch, all he would say was, "It's better than being known as the guy who dropped it." (According to Wikipedia, Tommy Lee Jones played OT for that team.)
The players I talked to are in awe of Varney for his baseball knowledge and coaching skill. I got the impression that when he tells a kid to do something, they do it.
• Interview Jessica Johnson, the "newest" Brandeis coach who has coached softball for five years. In her fourth year, she took the team to its first NCAA tournament. She's unashamed about having been an English major at Wheaton College, one of Brandeis' local rivals in many sports.
• Get fuse replaced in Honey at the repair shop on the other side of the tracks of the commuter rail line parking lot where I am parked.
• Watch Manny Vasquez and his crew from Wagon Wheel Landscaping replace the raw clay bricks around home plate on the baseball field and rework the pitchers mound and third base. The bricks have to be special ordered. They lay down something called "stone mix" on the base paths and "infield mix" around the bases, home plate and the pitchers mound.
• Talk to Francine Kofinas, sophomore goal keeper for the women's soccer team from Long Island. Next Thursday, Francine will make her first plane trip ever when the teams fly to St. Louis and Chicago for the next round of UAA play. Like all the UAA athletes I have talked to, she seems unconcerned about her first flight.
• Check the number of page views on my blog. 
• Decide with the counsel of my dog sitter that I should take the girls with me for the last leg of my trip.

Wednesday, Oct. 21
Rick Sawyer signs banner.
• Attend  a business class about marketing with Alex Tynan, who toes the slab for the Judges baseball team, pitches from the port side, and reveres Coach Varney. Class this day is a guest lecture by Jeff Freedman, CEO of a small and very successful marketing company called Small Army. Jeff lost his business partner to cancer two years ago, and it still breaks him up. One outcome is a fund raising event called Be Bold Be Bald, so if you see someone on Friday with a "bald hat," you'll know it's from Jeff's effort.
One point he stressed in his lecture was the importance of story telling in marketing.
Jeff: Say hello to Jerry Cohen and Mike Coven.
• Check the number of page views on my blog.
• Receive an email from David K., commissioner of the fantasy college basketball league to which I belong, that our draft will be Nov. 12. I'll be home by then.
• Find out Anita Hill, a professor in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, is teaching that day.  Local TV stakes out campus hoping for a shot of her in a car. That'll make some dramatic video. Hope she's not traveling in Honey.
• Drop off Honey at Hogan Tire Service in Waltham to have two new tires put on the inside rear.
• Interview Rick Sawyer, the Brandeis vice president in charge of student affairs (All UAA athletics departments report to Student Affairs and the president's office). Rick was briefly interim AD in 1983 when he first got wind of some schools wanting to start a unique athletic conference. The charter was eventually signed in 1987.
Brandeis, Rick tells me, is immensely proud of its membership in the UAA and shows it by hanging a huge blue banner in the atrium of the student center.
• Check the number of page views on my blog.
• Pick up Honey from Hogan's. Pick up my busted generator from the repair shop. They replaced a six inch plastic tube that burned out because the exhaust from one generator was pointed at the housing of the other generator.
• Attend midweek, non-conference soccer games. The Brandeis men beat Springfield College 3-1 (Yes, Luke scored) and the women beat Bowdoin (Yes, Francine had another shutout).
• Post on my blog a list of songs that are blasted during warm-ups for UAA soccer and volleyball teams. Post a poll to vote on the best list and notice that no one is voting. (Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn't.)
Yet another guy jacks up Honey.
• Get an email that a story about my road trip is posted on
• Think to myself how clever I am for including a picture of JayZ and Rick Lackner, the Carnegie Mellon football coach, with the play lists from UAA teams.
• Receive another email from David K that our fantasy basketball draft will be Nov. 9, because of a scheduling conflict. OK. If Honey makes it, I should be home by then.
• Buy a six pack of Long Trail Ale brewed by the Vermont brewery Long Trail (I think it's important to sample local brews along the way. Order a pizza from Cappy's, the pizza parlor that I can see from my living room window. Drink a couple of ales and eat two slices of pizza (OK, maybe it was three).
• Arrange to attend physics, advanced calculus and developmental psychology classes with Luke.
• Talk to my sister Melanie, who paid for the two new tires about meeting in Chicago. She concurs on taking the dogs with.

Thursday, Oct. 21
• I'm late for physics, and you know how the professor likes kids to be on time. But first I need to gas up my generator which just ran out, and then I need to check the number of page views on my blog.

Whom am I leaving out?
That's one of my favorite lines from Johnny Carson, a popular TV host back in my day.
There's a lot more folks at Brandeis who made this stop the best one yet on my odyssey (I write that about every school).
Eat 16 pancakes. Check.
But Adam Levin has been the most patient and helpful. He's the SID at Brandeis, and he hasn't blinked at my intrusive requests or annoying presence. And he has a seven-week-old baby boy named Drew who is beautiful and has a great head of hair. Being an SID at a UAA school keeps you busier than a one-armed paper hanger with hives.

Other stuff
I need a brave soul to drive with me and my two dogs from Atlanta to Chicago next week. No way I can make it without help. Leaving the ATL on Friday night after soccer matches at Emory and arriving in the Windy City by 11 a.m. Sunday.
I left out some of the times that I checked the number of page views on my blog, but I think you get the idea. Janice Quinn, the former women's basketball coach at NYU whose team won a national championship and is the Quinn-essential UAA coach, might want to call a timeout and reassess her conclusion that I have no ego. Or maybe even T me up.

This blog post has been corrected to reflect that Anita Hill is a professor in the Heller School of Social Policy and Management.