The Colgate Scene invites responsible letters, addressed to the editor, regarding any subject that may be considered of interest to the Colgate community. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.
Loyalty, integrity, courage
. . . To be sure, my introduction to Coach Jack Bruen and, through him, Colgate University, was rather inauspicious. It was in 1989, the fall of my senior year of high school. I was being "recruited" by several schools and, in fact, already had a fair number of athletic scholarship offerings when Coach Bruen made initial contact.
Coach Bruen was unlike any other recruiter whom I had come in contact with and as we sat with my parents that evening I was, to be candid, less than enthusiastic. He was decidedly low-key and straight-forward and his presentation lacked the hyperbole so characteristic of what I had come to expect.
In a word, he was honest. No empty promises, just the chance to be part of something that others said couldn't be done. And the special gift of a Colgate education. Later I came to realize that he epitomized, and taught by example, three wonderful qualities: loyalty, integrity and courage.
My parents finally convinced me that I had no choice. Their position was simple: use basketball to gain the best possible education and be part of a program that values you as an individual. And so I, along with Hasan Brown, Kort Wicken-heiser, Nate O'Neil and Jason Whatley, entered Colgate University in the fall of 1990, the members of Coach Bruen's first recruiting class.
He never said it was going to be easy. It wasn't. Professor Hunt Terrell's freshman seminar titled "Killing," combined with a 64-point loss to Oklahoma State and a 21-point defeat at Iowa soon made that clear. But there was always Coach Bruen, his homespun humor and genuine affection for his players. We finished the season 5-23.
But in our sophomore year we won 14 games, the most since 1974. It was the pivotal year. Perhaps the biggest victory came in overtime against Niagara in the championship game of the Marist Tournament early in the season. That win fueled the momentum and instilled the confidence that carried the season and set the stage for the next act.
During the 1992-1993 campaign Coach Bruen led us to a school record 18 wins, the most in any season since the inaugural year, 1900. Although we lost to Nebraska early on, we would beat Navy in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament. And then it was our senior year; what a ride it was. Indeed we had become part of something that others said couldn't be done, the transformation of Colgate basketball. Coach Bruen had given us what most can only hope for and we, in turn, wanted to present him with Colgate's first NCAA bid.
He took Colgate to the NCAA, but it was the following year. Our last season had ended in a heartbreaking three-point loss to Navy in the Patriot League Tournament Championship. In the locker room following the game one of my fellow seniors, Jason Whatley, struggled with doffing the uniform for the last time. It was too final. There were tears and then Whatley said, "Coach, we love you." Indeed we did and we always will.
During the lean times, when a large crowd at Cotterell numbered a few hundred, Coach Bruen would sit us down in the bleachers before practice and say, "These are the times when you really find out who your true friends are. You guys need to rely on each other because you're looking at your real friends right now."
He would find ways to lighten the moment: "Make sure you guys study and graduate because if you don't you may end up becoming basketball coaches," he would say, as if he would do anything else. And on one occasion he brought us to center court to show us a picture from his playing days at Catholic University. "I brought this in to prove to you that at one time I was skinny and had hair," was his line.
He was the perfect foil to Colgate's sometimes elitism. He was so admired and respected because he was real and genuine, loyal and intellectually honest. He gave us, his players, the special gift of a Colgate education and the most wonderful experiences and memories. And on top of all that he was a marvelous coach, who gave us the means to win while displaying courage and dignity throughout.
Coach, you will be missed; you were the best we ever knew. We have lost a leader and a dear friend. Thank you for all the opportunities you afforded us. We will never forget you and I will always love you.
. . . The lead article in the November 1997 Scene on the plan for the lower campus is exciting and the result surely will be beautiful, but there is something that is planned that is not mentioned in the article: the proposal to put a road across the lower part of the old golf course from O'Connor Campus Center to the Chapel House road at Frank Dining Hall, connecting two dead ends. This would seem, in many respects, to be a good thing.
In reality, this is a horrible thing. The old golf course is a very special place on the hill. There is something very serene, almost magical -bordering on the holy, that is up there. To put in a road would be almost sacrilege.
It is obvious that the planners have not spent any time up there. (The one that I talked with hadn't been there at all.) Those of us who have spent time on the old golf course, whether it be anything from practicing our golf game, or playing frisbee, or running the dog, or taking some sun (not too much!) or burning a fire or barbecue, or just wanting to be alone, know that this is a special place. You can leave the hustle and bustle of the quad and in the space of just a few moments and a few yards be in a totally wild, yet quiet and private place.
I know that the traffic problem on the hill is a major issue, but I think that completing the loop will just exacerbate the problem. Imagine the amount of traffic that will be zooming around up there. There will be everything from students racing around -especially late at night -probably disturbing the peaceful sleep of the inhabitants of the upper hill, including the university president and students in Stillman and Andrews halls -to heavy truck traffic making deliveries to the coop and Frank Dining Hall. It will change the whole feel of the upper hill . . . . and, in my opinion, ruin it completely.
There were reasons why traffic through the upper residential quad was stopped years back (some of us remember when you could drive through between Andrews/Stillman and East/West halls.) It was a good thing to remove that traffic. To do something as drastic as putting in a new road without letting people know in advance or asking for their input does a disservice to both the place and the people that are Colgate. Please think long and hard before you decide to do this awful thing. Isn't there any way that we can just keep the old golf course the way it is? I know that it is hard, if not impossible, to stop the wheels of "progress," but is this road really necessary? Even if a tremendous hue and cry is raised, we all know that this could already be a done deal. I surely hope that it is not!
I don't know about anyone else, but you can find me chained to the bulldozer when they try.
James Bona '75
On the road again
. . . The letter from James Bona '75 in the February 13 edition of the Maroon-News has raised a considerable amount of concern. I, too, regard the proposed road connecting the Coop with Frank Dining Hall to border on the sacrilegious. Some of my most vivid mental images of Colgate are along the road to Chapel House and the view of campus from above the old golf course. My frequent visits to campus always include a visit here. I can still recall field botany trips with Dr. Goodwin along that wood-land road, and I can pinpoint the locations of the Canada violets and white baneberry in the understory. What I can't picture is how that cathedral ceiling of intertwined branches will be disturbed for convenience of a quarter-mile stretch of asphalt.
Colgate is, and always should be, a primarily pedestrian campus. The opportunity to preserve sites conducive to quiet contemplation should not be squandered for the sake of providing a shortcut for deliveries. Even though the road could be designed as a tree-lined boulevard at the bottom of the hillside to mitigate its unaesthetic contribution to the vista from above, the very knowledge that it exists diminishes the experience of an early fall walk to the old quarry or a spring afternoon lazing on top of the hill in the all-too-rare sunshine.
I recall with fondness the battle to save Old Bio back in the seventies over the wishes of the administration at the time. The desire to preserve and restore the historic and aesthetic flavor of the campus won out over the destruction of a beautiful building for the convenience of new construction. I can only hope that the same spirit is present in the students and administration today.
If not, you will one day find me alongside James, chained to one of the big old maple trees along that peaceful stretch of campus.
Tim Carroll '77
Ed. Note: The Scene's November article about campus development focused on plans for the lower campus and O'Connor Campus Center. Long-range plans also include relocation of some roadways to redirect vehicle traffic to the perimeter of campus and improve safety and flow in some historically congested areas. The first of the new roadways, as mentioned in the article, is a loop road around Whitnall Field that will be constructed beginning summer 1998. The other significant changes that have been proposed for campus roads -including the proposal described in James Bona's letter -are projected for the years 2005 and beyond, according to Vice President Ernie Cross, who oversees campus planning. Cross points out that the campus plan was developed with input from students, faculty, staff and trustees, and then widely reviewed on campus and by the members of the Alumni Corporation's board of directors.