McCoy ’14: Sports — did you know we have them? A lot of ’em

Sports Columnist
Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dear Class of 2017,

This past weekend, as you met new roommates, said goodbyes to tearful moms and stood around in awkward circles at the ice cream social, the aura of college sports made its way back into our lives with the kickoff of the NCAA football season. Odds are many of you didn’t choose Brown anticipating Saturday tailgates or raucous student cheering sections, and you aren’t planning on snagging a spot on College GameDay to make sure your oh-so-clever sign finds its way on to Deadspin.

Of course, you likely know all of this. But as you settle into Brunonian life, be sure to keep one thing in mind: There are indeed sports teams at Brown (37 of them to be precise — the third most among all Division I schools), and if you’re a sports fan, you may find more for your fanhood in Providence than you might have first thought. As an avid sports fan, I hope to highlight what in my past three years have been the best parts of covering and following Brown sports. But remember, this is just a sample of athletics on campus — and I implore you all to go beyond my suggestions, attend friends’ games and see for yourself what all of Brown’s teams are up to throughout the year.

A lot happens right off the bat — the fall semester is one of the most exciting times for Bruno (the Bears’ lovable, jaundiced mascot). Ivy League football gets into full swing, and following the historic rivalries of the ‘Ancient Eight’ on the gridiron can be a worthy endeavor. In recent years, the Bears have been a perennial threat to the Ivy League crown, last winning the title in 2008 and finishing in the top half of the league standings the past six seasons. Though Brown Stadium is no Big House and crowds can be sparse at times, don’t knock the quality of play in the Ivy League. There have been alums aplenty in the NFL, including a number of former Bears (Pro Bowl Giants center Zak DeOssie ’07, recently-released Patriots fullback James Develin ’10 and tight end Colin Cloherty ’09, currently a free agent).

Mark Oct. 5 and Oct. 19 on your calendar for the football team’s two night games of the semester. The 88 year-old Brown Stadium is permanently light-less, but three years ago, the athletic department made the genius decision to bring in temporary lights for one night game each season, giving the student body a chance to make the trek up to Brown Stadium, tailgate and get rowdy under the lights. Attendance at each night game to date has surged above the average and makes Brown feel for a day just a bit like a Big 10 school.

The other gem of the fall season is men’s soccer, currently ranked No. 18 in the NCAA Division I pre-season rankings. The squad is consistently one of the best in the Ivy League, which is — unbeknownst to many — one of the NCAA’s most competitive conferences for soccer. The team’s successes (an Ivy League championship in 2010 and two Sweet 16 appearances in the past three years) have brought out some of the best home crowds at Brown, as chilly Stevenson Field turns into a fortress on Friday nights and students line up and down the far sideline. Alums play in the MLS and have earned international caps, and as soccer continues to be on the rise in the States, these are games you’ll not want to miss.

When winter rolls around, hockey and basketball take the spotlight, and teams across the Ivy League have been repping the conference well on the national stage. Yale won the men’s hockey national championship this past winter, and Harvard men’s basketball broke into the top 25 rankings and upset number three-seeded New Mexico in the NCAA tournament last March. As for Bruno, men’s hockey last year had its ups and downs but turned it on during the ECAC tournament, where the team beat Quinnipiac, the top team in the nation, and came within one victory of winning the conference and earning a berth in the NCAA tournament. Former Bears are scattered throughout North America in the NHL and American Hockey League, taking the program’s scrappy and hard-nosed style into the top level. Though men’s basketball has gone through a rough patch in recent years, the team made major strides in last year’s first season under Head Coach Mike Martin ’04, and progress should continue this year.

Spring brings with it a number of more competitive Bruno squads, including men’s lacrosse (a spectator sport filled with highlight-reel goals and big hits that you need to check out if you haven’t already) and both men’s and women’s crew. Crew is one of the more difficult teams to watch in person (due to the lack of a substantial body of water flowing through campus), but the squads are top in the nation year in and year out, with the women’s team winning the NCAA Division I national championship in 2011.

And every step along the way, Herald Sports is here to help you keep up with the Bears. From weekly coverage by our team of crack reporters, to features on alums in the pros and Olympics, to investigative sports series and weekly columns, you’ll find sports in The Herald three days a week and on Twitter (@BDH_Sports), 24/7 365 days.

Ever True,

Ethan McCoy

Ethan McCoy is a former sports editor and current columnist for The Herald. Talk sports with him at

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