The student-athletes of the first 50 years of Ivy League Athletics — including those profiled in the Ivy@50 celebration — have laid a foundation for the present and future. In closing, Jeff Orleans addresses that continuity.
As so many of this year's profiles have shown, Ivy League student-athletes succeed not just through their own dedication, but also through the care and skill of literally hundreds of coaches, administrators and faculty who teach and mentor and befriend them, who celebrate with them in victory and console them as they push past hard losses.
These efforts are nourished by a rich tradition, decades older than formal Ivy League competition, that passes confidence and discipline from one generation of student-athletes and coaches to the next — a tradition to which today's Ivy League athletes and coaches are proud to contribute.
Every Ivy League athlete and coach has his or her own examples of how that tradition works. The story that best symbolizes this continuity for me grows out of an early 50th Anniversary profile and this February's Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Track and Field Championships.
The Heps are the Ivy League's oldest championships and they are very intense, as men and women from the eight schools compete in some of the world's oldest kinds of athletic events. This year's meet was no exception, and today's sidebar features some of the best Heps performances, as well as highlights from other Ivy League winter championships and sports.
Today's story, however, began in the fall of 1960, when the late Stephen Misati Machooka came from the Kisii District of Kenya, to Ithaca, New York, and enrolled at Cornell University. As Brett Hoover's October 19, 2006, '50th' profile recounts, Machooka became an instant star, and as the first notable Kenyan distance runner an instant celebrity in his sport as well. After graduating and returning to Kenya he had a long and varied career that included teaching, farming, and significant contributions to rural agricultural and economic development.
Machooka's 50th Anniversary profile generated a number of responses: of appreciation from his family, of interest from many readers, and perhaps most unexpectedly, a contact from Toby Tanser, founder of Shoe4Africa, a non-profit organization that collects used running shoes and distributes them to aspiring runners throughout Africa. Mr. Tanser inquired about Machooka in connection with a possible book about Kenyan runners that would generate support for these efforts.
Out of these discussions with Brett Hoover, who also plays a central role in organizing and running both the Indoor and Outdoor Heps came some more immediate assistance. With willing help from Ivy League coaches and teams, and from our hosts at the New York Armory, Brett and Wesley Harris organized a successful shoe collection for Shoe4Africa at the Friday Heps practice session.
This response is characteristic of a commitment to service that so many athletes have, in the Ivy League and across the country. Yet thinking of it as I watched the preliminary Heps events the next day, it also seemed to exemplify the continuity of Ivy League athletics: individual athletes and coaches coming together both to achieve new standards of excellence and to continue a tradition of service that connects them to one of the earliest stars of formal Ivy League competition.
There are scores of links like this in the 50th Anniversary profiles, and even more in the many, many stories that we simply did not have the space to run. Today's Ivy League student-athletes continue to learn from, and to honor, their athlete-alumni predecessors: men and women from many different backgrounds, playing many different sports and influenced by thousands of coaches, who grew into so many different careers and made so many different kinds of contributions to their communities.
We hope the Ivy League's 50th Anniversary Celebration has helped you to get to know both those alumni and the student-athletes who continue to emulate them. And we hope that as the 50th Celebration ends, you'll not only refer back to it, but also that you'll keep reading www.IvyleagueSports.com for continuing news about Ivy League athletes, past and present. We think you'll agree that today's Ivy League student-athletes are worthy successors to the graduates whom we have profiled this year — and that they surely will deserve their own profiles in years to come.
I would like to close this Celebration with thanks to the Ivy League women and men who agreed to be profiled and were so forthcoming in their contacts with us, to the Council of Ivy Group Presidents for supporting our year's work, to the Ivy League Sports Information staffs for their assistance, and to KarmaRush for designing and producing our website.
And I want to offer special personal thanks to Ivy League Associate Director Brett Hoover, who conceived of this Celebration, and who as editor and writer made it work through unanticipated difficulties; to our principal writer, Stephen Eschenbach; to our principal contributing writer, former All-Ivy and Olympian Meredith Rainey-Valmon, Harvard '90, and to our other contributors: Suzanne Eschenbach; and former and current Ivy Office interns E.J. Crawford, Josi Carlson, Wesley Harris, Bethany Karantonis and Alex Searle.
Jeff Orleans, Executive Director
— Jeff Orleans