Our mission as an institution of higher education is to light the path to wisdom and empower our students to pursue meaningful lives as productive, responsible citizens. A fundamental part of our success lies in finding a balanced approach to living, in which we nurture the body, mind and spirit. We hope to educate well-rounded citizens who can mix work and play, as psychologists have long heralded “play” as the training ground to develop the skills that make us successful in work and relationships.
As you will read in this issue, our alumni share similar stories of skill-building, character development and professional and personal fulfillment through their participation in varsity athletics. Our student-athletes have graduated into a wide variety of careers as teachers, coaches, business leaders, communications experts and social service professionals, among many other fields. Some have gone on to play at a higher level of competition, such as our only U.S. Olympian, hockey player Pete Sears ’71, or Lakers who have run in high-profile marathons or competed in Iron Man and Iron Girl contests. Many more maintain their fitness through club sports, gym memberships and an active lifestyle.
Through their participation in Division III athletics, our student-athletes work on what the NCAA describes as the three Ds: The student-athletes discover themselves, develop into well-rounded adults and dedicate themselves to achieving their potential. SUNY Oswego is proud to have 450 student-athletes competing on 24 Lakers athletic teams at the NCAA Division III level. Demonstrating excellence in both their work and play, they clocked 3,362 hours of community service in 2013-14 and raised more than $166,000 for 30 charities (see story on page 19). These student-athletes serve as role models for their peers and younger students in the community, and these teams are a great unifier for our campus, building our school spirit and pride.
Lakers fans show their support for our student-athletes through their cheers along the sidelines, and our student-athletes work hard to make their alma mater proud on and off the field. Our programs, like men’s ice hockey that celebrated 50 years in November, often attract large numbers of fans even at their road games. These fans generate excitement for the players and for the broader campus. You can read the stories from some of the key players, coaches and supporters throughout 50 years of men’s ice hockey on page 26. Or see how our alumni-athletes return to campus to play reunion games with Lakers from a range of decades, as did members of the women’s hockey team last November (see story on page 25).
Our alumni-athletes are among our most loyal supporters, returning to campus for mini reunions, rooting for current student-athletes and making gifts to the college. True to form, they surpassed the challenge issued by former Lakers soccer player and Oswego Alumni Association board member Dan Scaia ’68 in the first-ever Lakers Athletics Challenge last fall (see story on page 24). The event brought in more than $125,000 in funding that will help provide leadership training and experiences for our student-athletes as well as to support a range of programs for all students.
I am proud of our athletics program’s rich history within the NCAA Division III. I hope you join me in raising up this cheer for our continued success in achieving the balance between work and play, academics and athletics … let’s go Lakers!