By The Editors / January / February 2000
October 24th, 2007
Men's Cross Country 2-0
After finishing second in a preliminary race, Enda Johnson '02 became the only Brown runner to qualify for the NCAA championships, at which he placed 77th out of 248.

Women's Cross Country 2-0
The women placed ninth in their first NCAA championship appearance. The top Bear finisher was Sara Tindall '01.

Field Hockey 13-4
After winning its first Ivy League title since 1991, the Bears lost, 6-0, to Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Football 9-1
This team's seniors have been the most successful of the past century, posting a four-year record of 28-12. Quaterback James Perry '00 was, unsurprisingly, Ivy League Player of the Year.

Men's Soccer 13-5
After an overtime win over the University of Rhode Island in the first round of the NCAA championships, the Bears lost, 3-1, to Virginia in the second round.

Women's Soccer 3-12-2
Though the season ended with a 4-0 loss to Harvard, Michaella Rooney '00 and Bekah Splaine '01 received first-team All-Ivy honors.

Volleyball 16-13
Tomo Nakanishi '00, Corre Myer '02, and Aneal Helms '03 each received All-Ivy honors. The team finished fourth at the Ivy League championships.

Men's Water Polo 13-11
The Bears beat Johns Hopkins, 10-1, at the Eastern championships, but lost by a score of 5-2 to Princeton and 11-7 to Navy. Brown qualified for the Easterns after beating Harvard at the Northerns.

For the 12,000 fans at Brown Stadium, the last minutes of the game on November 20 seemed surreal. It wasn't so much the balmy weather or the Brown 23-Columbia 6 score; after all, Brown had clobbered Columbia before. Rather, the day's dreamlike aura derived from the electric atmosphere in the stadium and what it signified: after twenty-three years of hopes and disappointments, Brown was about to win the Ivy championship.

As the scoreboard clock ticked off the game's final seconds, fans leapt to their feet, screaming themselves hoarse. Ecstatic players gamboled on the sidelines, exchanging slaps and hugs and high-fives; one group hoisted a bucket of Gatorade and poured it over head coach Phil Estes and defensive coordinator David Duggan. The Brown Band blared out victory songs, and stadium loudspeakers blasted Queen's anthemic rock chorus, "We Are the Champions."

After the game, thousands of fans poured onto the field. A throng of students swarmed over the south goalposts and brought them down - a sight not seen at Brown Stadium in recent memory - and headed with the posts toward Thayer Street. Other fans lingered behind to watch anxiously as the big electronic scoreboard displayed the game clock and score of the Harvard-Yale battle still raging down in New Haven. Behind their gaze lay one final hope: for the Bears to claim sole possession of the Ivy championship for the first time ever, Harvard had to beat Yale. With ten minutes left in the game, their hope seemed about to be fulfilled: Harvard was holding on to a slim lead. But if Yale came from behind to win, it, too, would claim a share of the Ivy trophy. For now, at least, the stadium contained thousands of newly converted Harvard fans.

Also rooting for Harvard were hundreds of parents and alumni who had repaired to the Sports Foundation's victory tent in the parking lot. But they rooted in vain. Suddenly they heard a huge, moaning "Ohhhhh!" rising from the field. In the final minutes, Yale had scored; there would be two champions this year. No matter. Under the white victory tent, free food and drinks and all-around high spirits prolonged the celebration well past sundown.

"It took me five years to win championships at Ohio State, Colorado, and West Virginia," a beaming President E. Gordon Gee told the players and fans under the tent. "But it only took me one year at Brown. I guess that proves that our students are smarter." The crowd howled their approval.

No one wanted to leave the parking lot. Especially, it seemed, head coach Estes, who was reduced to tears by his team's achievement. "I prayed for these guys every night," he said from the lectern, gesturing with a sweep of his arm to the players gathered on his right, many of them chomping on smelly cigars and every one of them grinning from ear to ear. "This is something that these guys have worked their tails off for, and when it finally happens, there is nothing quite like it." The fans applauded, on and on.

The win marked Brown's second Ivy title ever; the first was in 1976 - ironically, another championship shared with Yale. This year's victory also capped a spectacular season, the kind that rewards long-time fans for years of warming the metal stadium benches and watching Brown snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with discouraging frequency. This year, Brown racked up a 9-1 overall record, the most wins since the 1926 Iron Men finished 9-0-1. The team ended the season with a seven-game winning streak; over the past two seasons, it's won fifteen of its last sixteen games.

The Columbia game also marked the end of a stellar college career for quarterback James Perry '00, who set ten Ivy passing records and won numerous regular-season and post-game honors, including Ivy Player of the Year. In addition, freshman wide receiver Chas Gessner, who broke all the first-year records of Sean Morey '99, was named Ivy Rookie of the Year. Perry was joined on the first-team All Ivy squad by wide receiver Stephen Campbell '01, a repeater from 1998; offensive guard Jason Wargin '00; and linebacker Louis Ames '00, Brown's leading tackler. Brown's defense allowed only 97.1 rushing yards per game, ninth-best in the nation.

Earlier in the fall, Morey, now a rookie with the New England Patriots (see page 38), had confided that the biggest disappointment of his Brown career was the lack of a title. "It's all we talked about," he said. "It was the real goal."

This year, a bunch of his former teammates went out and won it. For a week in late November, the Bears' Ivy championship was all anyone talked about on College Hill. - Anne Diffily

Women's volleyball has been one of Brown's most successful sports of the late 1990s. It has also been one of its least appreciated. In 1998, the squad won its second Ivy title and made its second NCAA tournament appearance in three years. Last year's 7-0 Ivy League mark was a Brown first, along with a school-record final tally of twenty-three victories. Still - no matter how thrilling the cross-court smashes of its outside hitters or the stone-wall rejections of the center blockers - volleyballers have a hard time filling the stands. "We get maybe fifty to eighty fans on a good night," says the team's setter, 1998 Ivy Rookie of the Year Corre Myer '02. "It's a fun game to watch. It's not boring, it's not slow - but nobody seems to know that."

Unfortunately, as the Bears found out this fall, the fast pace of volleyball has a dark side, too. After the women jumped out to another fast start, by late October injuries had hobbled some of the best players. Despite these setbacks, however, the team showed its true mettle by finishing this season 16-13 overall and 6-1 Ivy.

After a promising showing against Penn, team captain Kathryn Rice '00, who had bounced back from shoulder surgery last January, tore ligaments in her ankle in a game against Princeton. Head coach Diane Short steeled herself with the thought that the squad could still rely on its franchise player, Tomo Nakanishi '00, whose explosive play at outside hitter has made her Brown's all-time leader in kills and the only volleyballer in Brown history to make the All-Ivy first team four years in a row. "She picks you up just knowing she's in there." says Short. "During the Princeton match, when we were struggling a bit, something didn't look right. Laura Wells ['02] came up afterward and told me, 'Tomo's in a lot of pain.' "

Short was afraid to ask Nakanishi what was wrong after the Princeton match. A native of Osaka, Japan, Nakanishi endured a brutal training regimen on the way to her home country's gold medal in the Junior Olympics. She has a history of sucking up bangs and bruises and suffering in silence. During her freshman year, for example, Short happened by while the hitter was taking off her court shoes. "Practically every toe was bruised," says the coach. "I think she'd been wearing an old pair of shoes that were too big." When the coach took her to the doctor after the Princeton game, Nakanishi found out she had broken the little finger on her left hand. "It's not her hitting hand," Short said afterward. "Even though she has a finger cast and it's really tough when she's diving to play a ball, she can still be in there for us."

Nakanishi, of course, took the news of her injury in stride: "I think my injuries here are not that big," she notes. "In Japan, when our coach was disappointed, we got slapped in the face. I was the captain, so when the team lost, I was the one who got in trouble."

According to Myer, the volleyball team spends a lot of time in the whirlpool. "It may not be a contact sport," she says, "but everyone's always getting these nagging injuries - shin splints, rotator-cuff problems - and they don't have a chance to heal until after the season."

A Volleyball Glossary

Volleyball terms can be a bear to understand if you haven't done your share of "digging" or "setting." Here, thanks to the 1999 NCAA Statistician's Manual, are a few definitions:

Attack: An aggressive shot that scores a point or brings the serve back to the attacking team.
Kill: An attacking shot that can't be returned by the opposing team.
Dig: The act of keeping an attacking shot in play.
Ace: As in tennis, an unreturnable in-bounds serve.
Block: When a player blocks an attack and sends the ball back to the opposing side.
Set: A high, lofting pass near the net that "sets up" a teammate for an attempted kill.

In addition to the physical drubbing they take on the court, and the feeling that they are toiling in semi-obscurity, women's volleyball players travel light and with few luxuries on the road. Players make the trips to away games in vans; road food is often fast food. "Each player gets twenty dollars a day for meals," explains Short, which is the standard food allowance for Brown teams. "To save some of it, we'll go grocery shopping for breakfast. We try to have one decent ten-dollar meal a day. At Cornell, that's easy. But at Columbia that's not so easy."

On their way to play Dartmouth in Hanover in late October, players pile into two vans in front of the Pizzitola Athletic Center. Their equipment is tossed upside down and sideways in a pile in the back. In one van, Kathryn Rice experiments with the radio while Nakanishi studies her Spanish. Audrey Anhood '02 and Jessie Cooper '03 alternate between chatting and dozing. When the van passes north of Boston into forests tinged with yellow and orange, and the women glimpse a few longish views down into river valleys, everyone seems to perk up.

By the time the van rolls into Hanover, the team has had its ten-dollar, high-grease meal. They are juiced and ready to go. The Bears take the court in attack mode and bury Dartmouth in the first two sets, 15-7 and 15-9. A banner in the stands proclaims: "Big Green Volley-ball - Dig... Set... CRUNCH!" While Dartmouth has done plenty of digging, most of the crunching comes at the one good hand of Brown's Nakanishi, after diving saves by Laura Wells, and perfect, net-scraping sets by Myer.

Dartmouth eventually turns scrappy in the third set, managing to pull ahead, 14-12, amid much foot stomping in the echoing, not-very-crowded stands. But after a typical Nakanishi flat-trajectory kill, and several line-drive Nakanishi serves, the Bears grab the game back, and in seconds the match is over.

As the team begins packing up to leave, a man who has driven all the way from Hartford, Connecticut, to watch the game exclaims, "That's better than football - better action, better teamwork. Those women are unbelievable to watch." Here, at last, is the kind of in-the-flesh fan these athletes have deserved for years. More fans like him would make the road trips and greasy food a little easier to take. - Peter Mandel

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