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Always in Season
Two-Sport Athlete Furthers Family Tradition
photograph by William DiLillo

Priscilla and Jack Sheehan’s 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.There’s 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 children.

She’s 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. Molly’s grandfather is Bobo Sheehan, a former U.S. Olympic ski coach whose name is usually prefaced with “legendary” when describing his years building Middlebury College’s ski program. And her aunts include professional golfer Patty Sheehan and mountaineer/skier/writer-photographer Jan Reynolds ’78. Molly’s mom, a member of UVM’s 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 family’s winter weekends were all about rising early to head to the Middlebury Snow Bowl. Though she’s 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 can’t 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 I’ve 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 it’s sub-zero, dark, and there’s a 6 a.m. practice at the fieldhouse. That’s 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 University’s 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 women’s 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 women’s 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 women’s 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, Cieplicki’s 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 women’s basketball coaching staff for the past ten years, was named UVM’s new head coach. See www.uvmathletics. com or the Fall issue of the Quarterly for more on the coaching transition.

Hockey’s Coach Gilligan Retires
Bringing a 19-year career behind the Catamount bench to an end, Mike Gilligan has announced his retirement as Vermont’s 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 season.

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 Gilligan’s May 16 announcement. Gilligan will continue to handle all administrative aspects of the men’s 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 hockey.”

Baseball Takes Championship
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 team’s 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 I’m real proud of what the team accomplished this year.”

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 the Year.
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