It’s been 88 days since the Bears left campus for summer break. This morning they returned to the fields, courts, courses, and seas to begin the 95th year of Stony Brook Athletics. The oppressive heat and humidity of the past week finally abated, giving way to a beautiful morning. Here are some shots of the Blue & White in action.
Apologies to the sailing and golf teams who practice off-campus each day.
While most of our athletic venues remained dormant over the warm summer months, the tennis courts witnessed a continual flurry of activity. Here is a visual update on the work being done.
Click here to see where the project began.
It’s a hazy July morning and despite the fact that the start of the fall season is a month away, the tennis courts teem with activity. But instead of the choonk! of the ball machine or the familiar thwack! of a cleanly hit forehand, the groaning of heavy machinery cuts the thick morning air. The tennis courts are getting a makeover.
Over the years the courts slowly fell prey to the elements as runoff from the berm and the invasive tendrils of bamboo roots methodically worked their way through the hardcourt. Over a half mile of cracks spread across the courts, as though the tremors of an earthquake radiated outward. On court one, deep gorges cut through the service court while tiny tributaries branch off toward the sideline. Courts three and four are bisected by a wide fissure that runs under both nets. A volcanic crater has erupted in the far corner of court five. The seismic activity forced the Bears to play their matches at Stony Brook University for the last four seasons, but this fall the blue and white will return home.
Thanks to generous alumni donations, the courts will be refinished by mid-August and Head of School Joshua Crane’s vision to activate stagnant areas on campus will unfurl a bit more. Over the next month the rivers of cracks will be filled, all six courts will be resurfaced with a blue hardcourt, the fencing around the perimeter will be replaced, and a paved path will be put down, allowing easier access for the carts and ball machine.
It’s time for the Bears to once again hold court. Stay tuned for more updates!
Miranda Harrigan was named to the 2016 Watch List for New York State girls’ cross country. The list was compiled by TullyRunners.com, one of the leading websites for independent coverage of the New York running scene.
Harrigan, last season’s Suffolk County Class D runner-up, was one of 55 Class D girls on the list one of just two Class D runners from Section XI. The other Suffolk County runner to make the list was Shelter Island’s Lindsey Gallagher, who edged Harrigan by just 1.21 seconds in the County Championships a season ago. Harrigan, a rising junior, has her sights set on more strong performances at the county, state, and regional levels this fall.
On this day 84 years ago, Stewart Wilcox ’28 ran in the U.S. Olympic Trials at Stanford Stadium.
In the third of three heats, Wilcox finished in 4th place in a time of 22.1 on a straight 200 meter course. Eddie Tolan, who finished just two places ahead of Wilcox, would go on to win gold medals at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in both the 100 meter and 200 meter dashes.
Wilcox was a three-sport athlete at Wesleyan University in football, swimming, and track. He distinguished himself on the cinder by earning the title of captain in 1932, the same season in which he became the Northeast Intercollegiate Champion in 220 yard dash.
- Hector Dyer – LAAC – 21.6
- Eddie Tolan – Unattached – 21.7
- George Simpson – Unattached – 21.9
- Stewart Wilcox – Wesleyan – 22.1
- Hudson Hellmich – Illinoia – 22.2
Six decades ago, the Stony Brook Assembly was in decline.
So what? For most readers of these nostalgic narratives, that foregoing sentence has little meaning or relevance to their connection with The Stony Brook School. They are unlikely to know much about the history and development of the organization that founded and owned The Stony Brook School for much of its first half-century. Some may have read The Way They Should Go (Oxford University Press, 1972), my account of those first fifty years; others have simply occupied the campus and received their education without any need to know who or why the names Carson, Chapman, Johnston, Fitch, Hegeman, Barnhouse, Kinney, Monro, Swanson, Alexander, Simons, Cleveland—or, for that matter, Gaebelein—appear around them.
I realize that this is essentially a sports page in the Brooker cyber-journal, but without the Stony Brook Assembly there would have been no school, no Bears, and no sports legends about which to write. So, without reiterating the full contents of the book—now itself 44 years old—here’s a brief summary of what Paul Harvey used to call “the rest of the story.”
In 1879 and 1881, the evangelist Dwight L. Moody founded the Northfield School for girls and Mount Hermon School for boys in his native village of Northfield, Massachusetts. Pierson Curtis was a 1909 graduate of Mount Hermon, and our Head of School, Joshua Crane, is an alumnus of the now-combined Northfield Mount Hermon School. This was the period of the summer “camp meetings,” popularized by Methodists at Chautauqua, Oak Bluffs, Shelter Island, Ocean Grove, and elsewhere. Moody began a summer conference at Northfield, offering Bible teaching and Sunday School instruction away from the urban heat. But after Moody’s death in 1899, both his schools and the summer conference abandoned his strong evangelical theology. Pastors who had been sending their Sunday School teachers to Northfield agreed that they could no longer support the “modernist” teaching there and began looking for an alternative. Two locations were proposed, at Montrose, Pennsylvania, and on Long Island, near the summer home of John Fleming Carson, pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, New York, and a major figure among Presbyterians.
In 1907, a group of Presbyterian pastors and laymen joined Dr. Carson in founding the Stony Brook Assembly and purchased the property that is now our campus. In 1909, they commenced operations in a tent pitched on the front lawn of Carson’s home on Christian Avenue—now the site of the Stony Brook Community (Methodist) Church and its parish house. The next summer, they occupied the largest meeting place on Long Island, the wooden tabernacle at the highest point of the rising ground from the Long Island railroad station—now Carson Auditorium—capable of seating more than 1,000 people with a choir loft for more than 100 singers.
Over the ensuing decades, thousands of people from across North America and overseas attended the gatherings of the Stony Brook Assembly to hear the great preachers of their era. Long before Ward Melville built the Village Center, long before Stony Brook University arrived in town, the words “Stony Brook” referred to the Assembly’s Bible conferences. As the Assembly flourished, its holdings expanded throughout the village, including ownership of what is now the Three Village Inn and the Sand Street beach. Loyal annual attendees built or bought houses, a few of which are now faculty residences once occupied by families named Johnson, Hershey, Goldberg, Marshall, Stewart, and Lockerbie.
After the end of World War I, when the Assembly decided to found a boys’ school, the conferences were a strong recruiting tool for the school as parents returned home and considered enrolling their sons. But most of these conference-goers occupied rooms in what had become the school’s residence halls, including faculty apartments, which meant that teachers’ families were evicted in mid-June and their furniture and other belongings removed to storage, then brought back in late August.
By the late-1950’s, two developments brought the Stony Brook Assembly’s conferences to a halt: First, competing Bible conference grounds began constructing more modern accommodations—making a communal bathroom-and- shower down the corridor in Johnston Hall much less appealing to summer guests; second, a faculty wife named Mariel Ward faced down Frank Gaebelein, informing him that she and her husband Robert Ward would not move from their dormitory apartment. FEG was wise enough to recognize a revolt brewing and urged the Assembly to reconsider its summer program—which ended soon thereafter.
What about those other names on campus? The profile on the School’s Wikipedia pages provides brief summaries of the named memorials that trace the history of both the Assembly and the School. Here are a few athletic connections:
- Carson Auditorium served as the principal gymnasium until 1973. When the State University at Stony Brook first arrived in 1962, having no gymnasium of its own, the Seawolves’ basketball team—briefly coached by Rollie Massimino, later NCAA winning coach at Villanova—practiced in Carson.
- In 1922, when the School opened, the campus was still covered by trees, and the only playing field was the sloping land south of Memorial Hall. In 1925, Fitch Field, named for the family whose printing company developed the overnight stock market results, was cleared for the football team, coached by Clyde Mellinger. The original four-lane track surrounding the field was a combination of dirt and sand and rose uphill in the homestretch. The benefactor, John Knowles Fitch, was a board member and father of an early graduate, John K. Fitch, Jr., ’24. His son John K. Fitch III, ’60, now president of the Fitch Group, was a member of a Penn Relays team that trained on the track his family created.
- Aldon Kinney, ’39, funded the auxiliary gymnasium called Kinney Fieldhouse in 1959. Its original dirt surface was transformed for greater usefulness by the installation of an all-purpose sports floor.
- In 1973, the School acquired the great asset that is the gymnasium named for Robert S. Swanson, Sr., president of the S. B. Thomas Company, famous for its English muffins. He had been a board member and father of four alumni sons, Robert, Jr., also board chairman, David, Jack, and Dan, and grandfather of Alan, Robert, Larry, David, and Tom, also graduates and all of them athletes. Frank Gaebelein told me this story: Early in World War II, when food rationing was imposed and meat was scarce, Swanson’s sons must have complained to their father that the School’s main protein was beans served night after night. Their father decided their lament called for an in-person meeting with the Headmaster and arrived by train late one afternoon to make the case for his sons’ improved diet. As their meeting ended, Gaebelein suggested that Swanson remain for dinner and taste for himself whatever was being served. “As we entered Johnston Hall,” FEG recalled with impish delight, “wafting from the kitchen was the aroma of steak—the first time it had been available in weeks!”
- Other elements of the School’s athletic facilities, named for Marvin Goldberg, John Buyers, ’46, Jeff Adams, and the Hartford family are also identified on the School’s wiki page.
During the tenure of Donn M. Gaebelein, ’45, as Headmaster, The Stony Brook School officially became independent of the disbanded Stony Brook Assembly. But all we know and cheer for in Stony Brook School athletics began with the sponsorship and support of the Stony Brook Assembly and its summer Bible conferences.