Thousands of former IC student-athletes have made a world of difference in their careers and communities. Here are just a few:
• James Sweet ’72 played intercollegiate tennis at Ithaca before becoming a production control manager, a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal (with his wife, teacher Beverly Pollock Sweet ’74), and USAID officer.
• Duke University Medical Center professor Rochelle Denenberg Schwartz-Bloom ’74 specializes in neuropharmacology and neuroscience. She was a gymnast at IC.
• Peter Alworth ’85, chair of Great Northern Bank in St. Michael, Minnesota, was recently named a rising star by the North-Western Financial Review. He was a member of the men’s crew at IC.
• President of Nike Subsidiaries Lee Bird ’86 was an all-American swimmer who set College records in the breaststroke. He also played on the golf team.
• Stacy Gold ’89, who played both field hockey and lacrosse at IC, served in the Peace Corps in Guinea-Bisseau for three years, teaching about, among other things, malaria prevention, STD prevention, and maternal and child health.
• Former IC golf team member Tom Jaronski ’90 played on the PGA tour, worked for NBC Sports, and is now director of marketing for Travel and Leisure Golf magazine. Volunteering for his alma mater, he spent 15 years as a career network volunteer and is currently on the Sport Management and Media Advisory Council.
• TV and film actor David Boreanaz ’91 (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Bones, Suffering Man’s Charity) played intramural softball, basketball, and football at IC; he was honored in 2001 with an Outstanding Young Alumni Award.
• Cynthia Warnokowski Bliss ’92, M.D., a pediatrician at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island, ran track at IC.
• Onetime IC football player Sam Medina ’92, who was honored with Ithaca’s Men’s Varsity Scholar-Athlete Award in 1992 and an Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 2002, is human resources director with the Trane Company. He is a volunteer soccer coach and also works in programs helping inner-city high school students.
• Communications project manager for the Sonoran Institue’s State Trust Lands Program and Planned Parenthood national board member Jennifer Barefoot ’96 was a rower on the IC women’s crew. She received a 2006 Young Alumni Award.
• Swimming and diving team member and winner of IC’s Iris Carnell Senior Female Athlete of the Year Award Renee Helbok ’99, M.S. ’00, is a physical therapist with Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation in Virginia.
Supporting the development of such important leadership skills for Ithaca’s student-athletes means providing a level playing field on which to compete. Alas, there hasn’t been one at Ithaca in recent years; our teams perform as brilliantly as they do only because of the sheer willpower and dedication of the athletes and their coaches. The Hill Center was built more than 40 years ago to serve 2,800 students. Now IC’s student body numbers 6,400; Hill Center is cramped and overbooked, with practice times stretching from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. and many teams forced to rent space at Cornell for practice.
A new athletics and events center can provide the necessary resources for Ithaca’s student athletes to become true champions both on and off the field. It will also allow Ithaca teams to host post-season events. At the same time it will afford an opportunity for exciting new active-learning partnerships with academic programs. And finally, it will provide an indoor venue for important campuswide and community events such as Commencements, Convocations, and lectures by famous and distinguished guests, as well as potentially revenue-generating concerts and performances.
What the new facility holds will depend on the generosity of supporters. It has been designed to be built in stages as finances allow, and to be environmentally, financially, and socially responsible in keeping with the College’s commitment to sustainability. The campaign leaders hope that former student-athletes in particular will support this initiative, although several of the primary volunteers working on it to date — including Larry Alleva ’72 , who heads the committee, and Carolyn Feeney ’86 — were not student-athletes here themselves; they simply recognize the value of such a facility in keeping the College competitive. The goal for this campaign objective is $20 million.