Two-Sport Athlete Furthers Family Tradition
by William DiLillo
Priscilla and Jack Sheehans kids learned their sports the old-fashioned
way. Forget the rides in the mini-van to this practice and that game.
Instead, the four siblings enjoyed long summer afternoons of activity
and invention visiting the local swimming hole near their Salisbury,
Vermont home, testing their nerve off jerrybuilt bike jumps, swinging
away at home run derby, or cutting a branch from a tree, splitting one
end, and lacing up some string netting to craft a homemade lacrosse stick.Theres
clearly plenty of nurture behind the sports aptitude that Molly Sheehan,
a UVM senior, brings to the challenge of playing two varsity sports
field hockey in the fall and lacrosse in the spring. In addition to the
competitive atmosphere of growing up with three brothers, she credits
her parents for being supportive and suggests that their own athletic
experience taught them how to give just the right amount of push to their
Shes got nature on her side, too the Sheehan athletic pedigree
is an impressive one. Imagine a family coat of arms replete with ice axe,
ski pole, and 9-iron, just for starters. Mollys grandfather is Bobo
Sheehan, a former U.S. Olympic ski coach whose name is usually prefaced
with legendary when describing his years building Middlebury
Colleges ski program. And her aunts include professional golfer
Patty Sheehan and mountaineer/skier/writer-photographer Jan Reynolds 78.
Mollys mom, a member of UVMs Class of 1975, played her own
lacrosse during her undergrad days, and her dad is an all-around active
guy who celebrated his fiftieth birthday with a flip on the family trampoline.
Summer sports may have been more free-form for the Sheehan kids, but the
familys winter weekends were all about rising early to head to the
Middlebury Snow Bowl. Though shes still an avid skier, Molly Sheehan
says she found her own athletic niche with team sports.
Elected to be a captain in both of her sports in 2003-04, Sheehan admits
that handling a varsity sport every semester along with a full academic
schedule can be a challenge. Being an art major and an athlete can
be tough, because it means I cant take my projects on the bus to
games and use that time to study like my teammates do, Sheehan says.
And she adds with a smile, After three years Ive learned how
to budget my time a little better. Modesty aside, Sheehan has twice
earned a place on the America East Academic Honor Roll.
Always a team player, Sheehan counts her athletics-rooted friendships
among the best aspects of her UVM experience. Two lacrosse teammates are
among the five student-athletes she shared a house with last semester.
The synergy of teamwork is a great thing on a playing field, but it also
helps out at times like an early February morning when its sub-zero,
dark, and theres a 6 a.m. practice at the fieldhouse. Thats
when Molly Sheehan and her teammates count on each other to provide their
own family of support.
New Athletic Director Named
Bob Corran, an experienced administrator with an extensive athletic background,
was introduced on May 7 as the Universitys new director of athletics.
He comes to UVM from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he has
been director of intercollegiate athletics for the past six years.
At UMD, Corran oversaw an athletic program of 16 varsity sports, 500 student
athletes, and a $5.1 million operating budget. His accomplishments included
planning and implementing a womens hockey program that went on to
win three consecutive NCAA Divi-sion I hockey titles; a major restructuring
and restaffing of the department; reorganization of athletics marketing
and promotions activities; a four-fold increase in alumni donations; the
planning and design of a campus sports and fitness center; and marketing/promotion
efforts that significantly increased student interest in games. During
his tenure, the Bulldogs won 58 conference championships, including 11
this year, along with the three NCAA titles in womens hockey.
It is truly an honor and privilege to have this opportunity to serve
the University of Vermont, Corran said. There is work to be
done and challenges to be met but I am excited to get on with the task
at hand knowing I will be among so many fine people of character and commitment.
This is a very special place with a very bright future and I am thrilled
to be part of it.
Corran succeeds Rick Farnham 69, who completed a career of more
than 30 years in UVM athletics with his retirement in June. Farnham has
been UVM athletic director for the past 11 years.
Cieplicki Departs, New Coach Named
Keith Cieplicki, head coach of womens basketball for the past six
seasons, will leave Burlington for the head coaching job at Syracuse University.
The Catamounts all-time winningest coach and a two-time America
East Coach of the Year, Cieplickis teams won three conference regular-season
championships and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2000.
As VQ went to press, Sharon Dawley, a member of the Dartmouth College
womens basketball coaching staff for the past ten years, was named
UVMs new head coach. See www.uvmathletics. com or the Fall issue
of the Quarterly for more on the coaching transition.
Coach Gilligan Retires
Bringing a 19-year career behind the Catamount bench to an end, Mike Gilligan
has announced his retirement as Vermonts head hockey coach. He will,
however, remain at the University as golf coach and assistant to the director
of athletics for special projects.
Gilligan completes his UVM career with a record of 279-289-46, while his
career record is 419-348-49. A collegiate head coach for 26 years, Gilligan
was sixth among active coaches in career wins at the end of the 2002-03
The golf coach at UVM for the past ten years, Gilligan will retain those
duties while also working in his new role. A national search to fill the
hockey coaching position began immediately following Gilligans May
16 announcement. Gilligan will continue to handle all administrative aspects
of the mens hockey program until a successor is found.
Gilligan, 55, said the time was right to step down.
It has been an honor to lead this program for the past 19 years,
and I am now looking forward to serving the University and the athletic
department in a new capacity, he said. I am very proud of
what we accomplished here and the quality of the young men who have come
through this program. My relationships with the players and with the great
Catamount fans have made these 19 years the best of my life.
This is something I have been seriously considering since the end
of the season, he continued. I always wanted to make sure
that I left the program in good shape. I think the program made tremendous
strides in 2002-03, and I am confident that the future is bright for UVM
Rounding out a strong year for UVM athletics, the Catamount baseball team
won a school record 32 games and their first-ever America East regular
championship this spring. Hosting the conference tournament in Burlington,
hopes were high for earning the teams first trip to the NCAA tournament
since 1965, but losses to Northeastern and Maine brought an abrupt end
to the outstanding season.
It is tough to end the season this way, said Coach Bill Currier
84, but Im real proud of what the team accomplished
The team reached new heights in 2003 on the strength of many factors,
among them the play of sophomore shortstop Bobby Tewksbary, America East
Player of the Year, and Jamie Merchant, America East Pitcher of the Year,
and the leadership of Currier, who repeated as the conference Coach of
Tewksbary and Merchant were joined on the all-conference first team by
junior first baseman Barry Chamberland and senior centerfielder Jeff Barry.
Senior pitcher Jeff Dixon was named second team America East, and Jay
Iannoni and Kyle Brault received All-Rookie honors.
For the latest on Catamount Athletics: www.uvmathletics.com