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October 17, 2011

First impressions of Tufts Athletics

Over the past month, I have been able to cheer on the Tufts athletic teams in unusually warm weather. It has been a joy to meet our student athletes and watch their skilled performances as individuals and as team members. It has also been a pleasure to meet their parents and families, alumni and other Tufts students who have ventured down campus to support them. Together, we have experienced the thrills of close soccer matches won in overtime and the agony of losing at strokes in field hockey after tying the match in the final seconds of regular play. Win or lose, the manner in which the Tufts student athletes handle themselves on and off the field of play deserves my respect and the respect of their coaches.

I have also admired our students and their coaches for the enormous effort they have put into training. When I arrive at Hamilton pool, for what I think is an early morning swim, the women’s volleyball team has already put in an hour of practice in Cousens gym. No wonder they are ranked number 2 in the NESCAC league! And the off-season sports teams are already working hard, building the foundation for successful competitions ahead.

These experiences have already reinforced to me why athletics is so important to our students and our institution. The dedication and commitment of our athletes is inspirational given the demands of their academic coursework. And athletics is so valuable precisely because it builds skills we cannot always easily teach in the classroom or laboratory—team building, leadership, time management, and how to work as a group towards a common goal. These skills allow our students to make extraordinary contributions to society after completing their education at Tufts. Tufts athletes are also very engaged in active citizenship with activities like Fan the Fire and Tufts Service Day, building team bonds beyond sporting objectives. Finally, Tufts athletic teams inspire school spirit and a sense of community that are important to the overall culture on campus. It is great to see the number of tweets and Facebook postings flying about on a Saturday providing the latest Tufts sporting results to the rest of the student body.

It has been exciting to see the progress on the Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center, due for completion next September. It is a constant reminder of what athletic facilities our community requires given our collective focus on health and fitness. Outside of varsity athletics, there are 21 sporting clubs and many other student-led groups at Tufts ranging from rugby to water polo to quidditch. Coach Don Megerle has already had close to 100 students and staff sign up for the Tufts Marathon Team just days after opening the registration. He has been inspiring runners, new and experienced, on Wednesday and Sunday mornings in preparation for local 5K runs as well as the Boston marathon. I have even ventured onto dry land to go for a run with them on a few Sundays.

As we move further into the semester, I hope to experience even more exciting athletic events where I can cheer on the Tufts Jumbos. If you see me at an event please introduce yourself or email me with your perspective on Tufts athletics at

Tony Monaco