From the Vice President: Coaching Life Skills

Founder and president of DCS Internet Strategy in Washington, D.C., Gerry Kavanaugh ’76, credits his two head basketball coaches at Lafayette — Tom Davis and Gary Williams — with teaching him “the value of discipline, preparation, and hard work in everything you do. Because of that, I have found myself very well prepared to excel at whatever I have chosen.”

Jim DickerAs a Lafayette student-athlete, I, too, learned far more than just how to succeed in my varsity sport from my head coach. From the time I was recruited until long after I graduated, John Piper took a personal interest in me and in my success that extended far beyond wrestling. It was a call from Coach Piper, in fact, that alerted me to an opening on Lafayette’s annual fund staff, a position that launched my professional career in development and college relations.

Now that my responsibilities as vice president include overseeing the Department of Athletics, I have gained a deeper respect than ever for the impact our coaches have as mentors and guides. Take head women’s basketball coach Dianne Nolan, for example. She shows her players the value of sharing their time and talents with their neighbors by participating with them in such off-the-court activities as volunteering at a local assisted-living facility and at a nearby elementary and middle school. Coach Nolan and her staff also make it perfectly clear to the team members what their priorities should be: “It’s books and basketball — same sentence but the academics come first.”

The players get the message from their coaches and from the faculty mentors who work closely with them. The players, in turn, reinforce the message through their interactions with their peers. As a peer mentor in our Academic Tutoring and Training Information Center (ATTIC) in Scott Hall, football and academic standout Brandon Ellis ’12 has enjoyed “helping younger student-athletes make the transition from high school to college as smoothly as possible.” A First-Team All-Patriot League selection, one of four Patriot League players honored with a place on the Football Championship Subdivision Athletic Directors Association All-Star Team, and the holder of a perfect 4.0 grade-point average over the past two semesters, Brandon understands the importance of sharing what he has learned with others.

The lessons taught by our athletic coaches, team faculty mentors, and student-athletes complement the guidance and encouragement that students receive from their professors, academic advisers, deans, career services staff, and our impressive network of alumni and parent volunteers. In sharing their expertise, experience, and wisdom, the best of these mentors become coaches and cheerleaders for our students’ lifelong success.

James W. Dicker ’85
Vice President
Development and College Relations