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Good Sports

Every year, hundreds of Tufts students choose to participate in intercollegiate athletics. With some 36 teams, Tufts offers ample opportunities to compete on the court, in the rink, in the pool, on the playing field and on the track. On the following pages, we salute four students who exemplify a commitment to keeping sports a vital part of their Tufts experience.

Cindy Manning: Staying on track
Meredith Leroux: Nonstop field hockey
Matt Adler: Taking chances
Mike Andrews: Believing is all

Cindy Manning: Staying on track

When class schedules conflict with the Tufts cross country team's regularly scheduled training, Cindy Manning, J00, has it covered. She's up by seven to run five miles around Tufts, or maybe down Massachusetts Avenue to Harvard Square. She's back in time for a three-hour seminar on neurophysiology. Then it's another four-mile run, followed by an hour of weight lifting.

Manning's discipline comes as no surprise to those who know her. Her training has led to an impressive fleetness, including ranking as an All-American in cross country and a First Team Academic All-American. She is nationally ranked number 22 in cross country and 11 in track, and in fact was seeded close to the top prior to the national meet in early March.

"Cindy is a major contributor to the team's success," said Coach Branwen Smith-King, noting that this past year, women's track and cross country ranked third in its division. "She's been our number one for four years, which is quite an achievement, and she's extremely dedicated. For a distance runner, that self-motivation is essential."

Manning began running seriously as a sophomore at Valparaiso High School in Indiana. She had competed just for fun in short track events in middle school, but in high school she began setting new goals-three to five miles a day-and got better and faster. When she joined the cross-country team, she took quickly to the challenge of training in the sand dunes of Indiana National Lakeshore.

Running in the sand "was painful while you were doing it, but it was good for strength training," says Manning, who soon rose to be one of the top five runners on her team.

At Tufts, Manning's intensity pays off at the track but extends into the classroom as well. In her sophomore year, she applied and was accepted into Tufts' early admission MD program, which brings talented undergraduates to Tufts Medical School.

Keenly interested in neurophysiology, she is also an undergraduate research assistant with psychology professor Klaus Miczek, studying new protocols for stress sensitization. A vice president of the Golden Key National Honor Society, she is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Psychology Honor Society.

For Manning, much of her college experience is about making the time to run seven to nine miles a day. Her speed, she says, comes from simply extending the distance she runs.

"My times stem a lot from how much I put into it. I found that once I increased my mileage, my time in racing dropped; I think it has to do how I hold my endurance," she says. "Just putting in the extra mileage has made drastic improvements in my timing the past two to three years."

Manning anticipates continuing to run in medical school. "I would like to keep racing, too, though I don't know how, maybe through some running clubs," she says. "I will try my best to keep running on my own, and eventually to run the Boston Marathon."

Regardless, she certainly will have many memorable college experiences to savor when academics put running on hold. "Running has probably been one of the most significant things I'll take away from Tufts," she says. "I spend almost the entire week with these girls and entire Saturdays at meets, and most often Saturday nights too, so I've made a close circle of friends.

"You do give up the typical college experience, because you can't go out on a Thursday or Friday night," she granted. "But I don't think I missed anything. I've experienced so much more. It's all in the choices you make. For me, it was the thrill of competition and the fun of being on a team. And you don't often get pushed to your physical limits. It's a wonderful experience to be pushed, to know, after a meet, that you've put everything you could into doing your best."

Laura Ferguson

 

 

Meredith Leroux: Nonstop field hockey

"Fun" is not the first word that comes to mind when many people recall grade school gym class. But that's how Meredith LeRoux, J00, describes her introduction to field hockey. By junior high, she signed up for junior varsity. A hockey stick has been a constant companion ever since.

At Tufts, it's easy to see how LeRoux's commitment has grown. A center midfielder, she is the nonstop player around whom each game revolves. Skilled in both offense and defense, she displays a quick intelligence and a sharp instinct for teamwork that has helped make Jumbo field hockey one of the toughest teams to beat. And league coaches have praised LeRoux by voting her an All-American two years in a row, making her one of the best field hockey players in the country.

"I like the aggressiveness, I like to run, and if I have a day with a lot of stress, I know I can always go to practice and run it off," says LeRoux. "And I think the coaches [who nominated me] also know me because I'm particularly vocal on the field. There has to be a lot of interchange so we can score."

According to coach Carol Rappoli, LeRoux was the field general for a young Tufts team that made a run to the ECAC New England Championship Game this season. "As the center midfielder, she played excellent defense and distributed the ball well when the Jumbos turned to offense," said Rappoli. "Her overall smarts and athleticism on the field make an outstanding All-American."

LeRoux was competing in high school varsity field hockey in Oyster Bay, Long Island, when she took a look at Tufts. "I knew I wanted to keep playing field hockey, and at the Division III level, so Tufts set up a visit for me," says Meredith. "I stayed with a girl on the team and met all the players and thought Tufts was so friendly and nice that it was easy to make the decision to come."

Academics are important too, and LeRoux, a biology major, schedules her life around field hockey and labs. Staying in shape includes running and weight lifting; she also played lacrosse as a spring sport her first three years.

LeRoux also interns two full days a week for a Medford environmental marketing group. Learning the ropes of public relations, she admits, puts added pressure on time management. But the exposure to the "real world" has introduced her to other professional strengths as well.

"I think if you play sports, you bring good people skills to a professional setting, because you're used to being part of a large team," she says. "Being captain means I've also had a chance to learn leadership skills, and I know that's important for my future."

LeRoux isn't sure just what that future career will be, but she anticipates building on her marketing experience. One thing she does know: she won't retire her hockey stick.

"I play on the Long Island Field Hockey Association summer league, and there is talk about starting an indoor league," she says. "It used to be that people only thought of field hockey as a sport you played in school, but there are more and more people who want to keep playing." One can be sure that LeRoux will be among the first to sign up.

Laura Ferguson

 

 

Matt Adler: Taking chances

Tufts senior Matt Adler has skied down an icy mountain at 85 miles per hour. He has entered burning buildings as part of a fire rescue squad. He's withstood eight operations to become one of the best athletes to ever play at Tufts. In a word, he is fearless.

"I don't even think about it," Adler said of the dangers he's encountered. "You can't be afraid if you want to be successful."

Adler has used that attitude to his advantage during most of the past decade while taking on new challenges, especially in sports. He skied and played soccer and baseball while growing up in Princeton, N.J. Now 6-feet tall weighing 195 pounds with a broad back, thick legs and great speed, Adler looks like a prototypical college athlete. His vast competitive experiences help him to think like one, too.

His interest in recreational ski racing as a young teen led to his emergence as one of the top skiing prospects in the United States. By winning the Super G and Giant Slalom races at a Junior Olympics event at Maine's Sugarloaf Mountain in 1995, he earned a spot on the U.S. Development Team and traveled to locales such as Chile to train. His continued success gave him an opportunity to qualify for the U.S. National Team.

Two weeks before that chance, he crashed while skiing under bad conditions in Canada and blew out his knee. At first, doctors on the mountain convinced him it was not a major injury. But after flying home, he learned a few days later that the damage was serious and his racing career was over.

"My goal in life at the time was to make the U.S. Team," he said. "There was no guarantee I would have made the team, but it was frustrating to not get a chance. I've never been one to sit around wondering why things happen to me. I did my time, took my chance. It was time for me to move on and go to school."

Adler enrolled at Tufts in 1996, attracted by the varied academic opportunities and a successful soccer program. He was still recovering from the knee injury and was not able to play when the season began. It was driving him crazy. He received a second opinion on campus, was cleared to play, and finished the season third on the team in scoring with five goals and one assist for 11 points.

Injuries continued to hamper him, but couldn't stop him. In 1997 he tore cartilage in the same knee and had arthroscopic surgery on October 3. He was on the field nine days later to score the game-winning goal against Trinity College. He finished the season with 14 goals in 12 games and was selected as an All-American by a national committee of coaches.

"Matt's combination of ability and personality is inspiring," head coach Ralph Ferrigno said. "His mental toughness provides leadership by example. He wants to win every little battle and succeed at every little part of the game."

"I've always had a lot of energy," Adler said. "That constant drive and my persistence have made me the kind of person who wants to get around whatever obstacles come up and strive to win. I've always felt that if you are going to compete, you do so 110 percent until the final whistle."

As a junior in 1998, Adler set a single-season scoring record with 38 points. This past fall as a senior tri-captain, despite not practicing for most of the season because of a groin injury, he again earned All-American honors. He also set the team's career scoring record with 106 points (44 goals, 18 assists). Tufts Athletic Director Bill Gehling previously held the record.

"I'm happy to have Matt be the guy to do it," Gehling said. "He's not only a great player, but a great team player as well."

Playing soccer wasn't enough to satisfy Adler's competitive desire. He took up lacrosse in the spring of his sophomore year. Mild-mannered and friendly off the field, he is anything but that on it. Though he'd never played the sport before, his tenacity has helped him become the team's best face-off man. Last season he set a team record with 142 ground balls and was voted by his teammates for the Baggattaway Award, emblematic of spirit and persistence.

"Matt's a tremendous athlete, but he's an even tougher competitor," head coach Mike Daly said. "If he had taken up lacrosse at an earlier age he'd be an All-American in our sport, too."

At home, Adler volunteers for the fire department and first aid and rescue squad. This past winter break he was part of a crew that resuscitated a man who was stricken with a heart attack. Once part of a search team blinded by smoke during a fire at a pancake house in Princeton, he came perilously close to a floor that had collapsed in the blaze.

His fearless approach has led Adler to many interesting and impressive achievements, and ensures that more will follow. After graduating in May, he hopes to get a try out with a professional soccer team. Wherever he ends up, he'll bring along fond memories of playing sports at Tufts.

"The best part of my day is always going out to play, whether it's a practice or a game," he said. "The relationships I formed with my teammates contributed to my experience here in a big way."

Paul Sweeney

 

 

Mike Andrews: Believing is all

The Tufts men's basketball team was trailing Colby College by five points, 71-66, with time winding down in overtime of the ECAC New England Championship Game on March 5. The Jumbos needed to make some big plays soon, or the game was lost.

Guard Mike Andrews, playing as a graduate student in his final season with the team, answered the call. He stole the ball to set up baskets on consecutive Colby possessions to help spark Tufts to a thrilling 74-73 victory. For the team, it was the first post-season championship since 1982. For Andrews, who was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament, it marked a glorious end to what at times was a frustrating collegiate career.

"To go out this way is the best feeling in the world," said Andrews, who had helped Tufts secure an ECAC Tournament berth with a basket at the buzzer to beat Middlebury on February 19. "Some things happened to me earlier in my career, so I had to fight and focus to stay with it. Winning the championship was a great reward."

A football and basketball star at Falmouth High School on Cape Cod, Andrews had major athletic intentions for college. He applied to sports factories like North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest before finally enrolling at the University of Virginia of the Atlantic Coast Conference. He was unhappy about being red-shirted in football and quit the team. Though he was named captain of the junior varsity basketball team, he decided Division I wasn't for him.

"Maybe I was a little arrogant coming out of high school, but I didn't want to wait to play," he said. "I wanted to move closer to home and play right away."

Recruited in high school by Paul Svagdis, A93, a fellow Falmouth grad who played and coached at Tufts, Andrews chose to transfer here over Williams in 1996. If anything, his luck got worse. He missed the 1996 football season following a hernia operation, then did not get much playing time for the basketball team. Arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and a broken foot limited him to four games during the 1997 football season, then he again spent most of his time on the bench during basketball season. They were trying times for someone who takes great pride in his athletic ability.

"At that point, I thought about leaving," he said. "I really love playing sports, and that kept me in it. I'm very religious too, and the Bible says 'the hand of the diligent worker shall rule.' That helped me to believe in myself. It was a tough ride."

His faith and hard work brought results during the 1998-99 academic year. He started eight games at safety for the football team and led the 7-1 Jumbos with 67 tackles, including a team record-tying 15 solo stops versus Trinity. He also earned a starting role on the basketball team and began showcasing his exciting ability. After graduating in May 1999 with a degree in clinical psychology, he was accepted into Tufts' graduate school and was declared eligible to play both sports for another year. He had three interceptions for the football team this past fall and took on a leadership role in basketball, averaging 10.7 points per game.

Though his injuries never ceased-he had surgery on his right knee in December 1998, again in August 1999, then suffered a concussion in October 1999-neither did his will to play.

"He always came back from his injuries relatively quick, which is a reflection of his desire to compete," said Mark Doughtie, director of sports medicine at Tufts. "He was bitten once, twice, three times, but he never got discouraged. He'll probably have some long-term articular problems in his knees, and he's fully aware of that, but he chose to compete."

Andrews credits coaches Bill Samko, John Casey and Mike Daly for helping him through the tough times athletically. He said his experiences at Tufts outside of athletics also helped him maintain a positive perspective. Playing two sports at Tufts isn't an easy assignment. He had to manage rigorous academic and athletic requirements from late August straight through to early March. His life at Tufts taught him lessons about discipline and teamwork that he will take with him into his professional career.

"I've learned a lot about myself and people in general at Tufts," he said. "The various professors I've had and the people I've met have never been close-minded. Tufts is very accepting to different types of people."

Andrews is already putting those lessons to great use as an assistant teacher at Bay Cove Academy in Brighton, where he works full-time with troubled children. Some of his students were born addicted to cocaine, others were molested or abused.

"I go in every day trying to give the kids the extra attention they've never received," he said. "I want to show them that I'm a real person who gives real support, so I do that the best I can."

Andrews grew up without a father, so he knows all about the support that certain people need. His mother, Angela, raised a large family on her own. His uncle Carlos Resendes and cousin Adilino Cardoza also made a big difference in his life. He hopes to do the same for others by earning his Ph.D. in psychology and working in a clinical setting.

Before then, he will explore opportunities to play basketball professionally this summer. He'd also like to get into coaching, where his varied experiences as an athlete would be of great value. "Over his four years here, Mike grew up a lot," Samko said. "He made it through some difficult times. Because of that, I'm sure he'll be as productive with his life from now on as he was as an athlete for us."

Paul Sweeney
   

 

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