The Colgate Scene
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Three to remember
|by John D. Hubbard|
Fran Boone's game has changed over the years.
The senior came to Colgate as a slashing guard who penetrated the lane for daring lay-ins. When opponents got wise to her ways, she developed an outside shot, balancing her flights through the lane with three-point bombs.
College defenses are not easily deterred, of course, and Boone answered by adding offense off the dribble. A triple threat with the ball is tough on even the staunchest opponent.
While offense produces points and pandemonium in the stands, it's really defense that defines Boone. A steals leader, she relishes those moments when Colgate needs a stop desparately just as she covets the ball in crunch time at the other end of the court.
"I'm most confident in pressure situations," says Boone, who has been a starter all four seasons. "Defense has always been my game. Offense comes and goes, but defense can be steady."
When most little kids were having cereal and watching cartoons, Boone was dragging a friend or cousin to the park to play sports. She grew up with basketball and actually came to Colgate playing softball, too. During her two springs on the diamond, Boone had a gaudy slugging percentage and helped the team to a Patriot League championship and a trip to the NCAAs, where she had three hits in her five at-bats.
Recognized with a berth on the regional Northeast All-America team, Boone nonetheless knew two sports was too much. She was worn out physically and overall fatigue was having an effect on both sports.
By her junior year it was all basketball, and Boone responded by leading the Red Raiders in scoring and steals and being selected as second team all-league. Colgate finished the season four points away from an appearance in the Patriot League championship game.
This season has been more trying. Young and without a go-to defense, Colgate has struggled. Still, the team, reflecting its captain, has been relentless.
A philosophy major, Boone has begun to think about life after graduation. The guard has long seen her role as partially that of a coach on the floor, but with her analytical mind and cerebral approach to the game, Boone wonders if business might be appealing.
Whatever direction she takes, Fran Boone is ready. "Colgate is something I needed to go through. It's hard to do school and play sports, and the commitment you make is unreal. But I have a lot more confidence having accomplished this."
Sean Nolan '01 knows where the goals are and he is willing to go get them.
Hockey allows for flights of fancy; for graceful -- almost balletic -- rushes that culminate, sometimes, in scores. The game, however, can be elemental; rewarding the gritty and less-artistic player willing to put himself in harm's way for a chance. That is where you'll find Nolan, mucking in the corners, parked in the slot, absorbing punishment all because, sooner or later, the puck will appear.
"I don't mind taking the beating because I know I'll get the opportunity," says Nolan. "I've got a few bruises to show for it, but I think half my goals have come off rebounds."
Nolan is no stranger to contusions and even more serious injury. Last season against Princeton, after a hit, he felt a searing pain in his knee that quickly subsided. Naturally, he played on. The next day the joint was swollen and felt as if it would give way occasionally. A doctor told Nolan he had torn his ACL and his season was over. Trainer Steve Chouinard was more optimistic. By the end of the week, Nolan was in a brace and skating.
It took five games before the winger felt confident on his leg, but once "it stopped being a mental barrier," Nolan was playing his game again, back in front of the net. Back taking a beating and helping Colgate all the way to NCAAs.
This season, which has been a study in frustration, with its close losses and defeats in which Colgate has outplayed the winners, Nolan suffered an early hip pointer and then had his other knee scoped to repair the meniscus and clean up cartilage. Still, he plays on.
An alternate captain and part of the large senior class, Nolan has been a vocal leader on the team. After the 4-1 loss at Harvard (the game was tied 1-1 in the third period), the players held a team meeting to "refocus." Says Nolan, "We wanted to keep everybody's spirits up, make sure everyone was on the same page and that no one was cashing in the chips too early." That night Colgate beat Brown 4-2.
Nolan followed Andy MacDonald '00 to Colgate. The two had been junior hockey teammates in Strathroy, Ontario, where they pushed each other to train and excel. MacDonald is now in the professional ranks and Nolan has aspirations to continue his playing days, too.
"With my size and the kind of player I am, I have to get my nose dirty. I'm not a pretty skater, but I get there."
Colgate has been a series of opportunities for Nolan, and as he has matured, he sees more clearly how important it is to take advantage of the doors that open for him. He is majoring in economics and geography, partially because a bunch of last year's seniors bet he couldn't, but mostly because his interests have broadened and developed.
In hockey and in life, Sean Nolan is willing to do what it takes to succeed.
Intense in the pool|
"My Colgate experience has flown by," says senior Jeff Cowan. Swam by, actually. "Probably because I've enjoyed myself for four years."
Cowan is a captain and distance swimmer for the Red Raiders. In the last few meets before the Patriot League championships (which Colgate hosted), the quiet Canadian has added some sprints to the 500, 1000 and mile races he typically swims.
"It means a different style of training -- working different energy systems -- a change in the yardage I swim and a new level of intensity."
Whatever the distance, Cowan is already plenty intense.
"I'm always racing the person next to me," he says. "I don't like to lose, and I do my best not to." He also concentrates on his technique, no matter how many laps there are, and keeps an eye out for hand signals from Coach Bill Roberts -- thumbs up for "on pace," a cranking hand "to pick it up."
Cowan began racing at age six. Even by then he was a veteran swimmer, often in the pool with kids twice his age. Finally, it was suggested he move up to the aquatics club and the competition he finds so appealing even now.
"The water is like my second home. I enjoy playing around in the water as well as working hard in it." There's lots of opportunity to work. The men's team has lost seven swimmers this season, for a variety of reasons, and thus Cowan has taken on additional sprint duties. Despite the smaller roster, Cowan feels it has been a good year. His expectations for the team in the league championships are high (at least one Colgate swimmer in the top 16 of every event).
"I know some Colgate records will fall, and a lot of personal records will be met. The Patriot League championships were here my first year, and now they are here again for my senior year. It's going to be loud and intense and it should be fun, even though it will be my last weekend of competitive swimming." Cowan feels he has accomplished what he set out to do this season.
"My goals were to get my name on the record board a few times, swim faster than I did last year and be the kind of captain I've looked up to the past three years."
Says Coach Smith, "Jeff has led by example. He's the first one in the pool every day, usually the last one out and he never loafs a set. This team could have ended up in shreds and I think Jeff did his best to keep it together. I give him a lot of credit for that."
An art and art history major, Cowan incorporated swimming in one aspect of his senior project through abstract and symbolic painting. He's considering a teaching career and did volunteer work with younger grades at Hamilton Central, which he enjoyed.
His parents will make the seven-and-a-half hour drive from Canada for the championships just as they have for every other meet. It was they who always urged their son to be going, and Jeff Cowan has given them plenty to cheer about.
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