Performance under pressure. The game is on the line, the paper is due tomorrow, a final exam a week away and that social just around the corner. All eyes on you, the games winning shot in your hands, the answer to the question at the tip of your tongue. How will you respond? Will you carry the day? Will they remember you forever or forget you tomorrow? Performance under pressure.
Diamonds are made under pressure.
I was a student and an athlete. I became a coach. Soon I was an athletic director. My entire life spent in the world of sports; each step in the journey a new appreciation earned for what makes the student-athlete experience so sacred and unique. Our world provides few better vehicles than college athletics to shape the lives of young men and women. To learn life balance, to perform at the highest levels both on and off the field, to strive for greatness in every facet of our lives.
I have spent much of my career at Colgate, my beloved Alma mater, a hidden gem among the rolling hills of Madison County. I have seen our campus transform before my very eyes. An institution that has grown to compete among the very best in the world in academics and athletics. I helped lay the seeds of this progress as a student-athlete many years ago, and have watched over their development since that time as a coach and administrator. The Raiders have made our university community proud, and with deep roots and a strong foundation, will continue to do so for many years to come.
And now I shift my attention to New Haven and the hallowed halls of another great institution – Yale University. The Ivy League, brother of the Patriot League, both steeped in tradition, each committed to upholding a true balance of academics and athletics. I step into the shoes of a giant – Tom Beckett – who has helped transform the Bulldogs into a force. But Yale is not left wanting for great leadership, it is part of the very fabric of the university. Indeed, I will have the privilege to work under President Peter Salovey, a man revered in the world of academia as much for his gentle touch as he is his vision.
The heights of which Yale athletics can climb are beyond measure. The university offers a value proposition few institutions can match; a renowned academic experience merged with a world-class athletics program create a seemingly invincible combination. Complacency, nor mediocrity, will be accepted. Yale Bulldog athletics will be synonymous with the preparation of leaders through athletics.
This will not happen because of me, but rather because of the strength and commitment of the university community. In the world of higher education, success does not come from one person. It come from every level of stakeholder. From leadership, to faculty, staff, coaches, student-athletes and alumni – unless every single person buys into the vision of what the university can become, the end goal is impossible to reach.
That buy-in starts with building trust. With listening and learning and piecing together a puzzle made of a thousand different ideas, each no more and no less important than any other. Everyone not only wants to be heard, they want to be listened to. They want to see their suggestions taken into consideration and turned into tangible results. I do not expect the Yale community to simply embrace me because of my title. I will have to earn and re-earn their trust and commitment every single day through my actions.
Most importantly, the Bulldogs will do all this without ever compromising our values. As the great seal of the university says, Lux et veritas – Light and Truth, we shall become the light of the college athletics world by being truthful with our words and intentions, and by always putting the well-being of our teammates before our own individual desires. We shall humble ourselves and be exalted.
I am forever grateful for all those who have helped me get to where I am today and those that will help write the next chapter of my life and career. For those at Colgate who entrusted me with the leadership of their athletics program. For Yale President Peter Salovey, Witt/Kieffer, and the rest of the search committee for believing that I am the right person to lead Yale into the future. And for all the thousands of student-athletes both before and soon to come that have shaped my very being – I promise to not let you down.