BEVERLY, Mass. – During the entire 2018-19 academic year, the Endicott Athletics & Recreation Department will celebrate 25 years of men's and women's athletics at the NCAA Division III level. This landmark achievement will be commemorated throughout the year via special events, alumni spotlights, giveaways, and much more. For our sixth installment of our alumni feature, www.ecgulls.com reconnected with former cross country student-athlete, Patrick Douglas '02 (Hartford, Conn.). Here's what Patrick said about his time at The Nest.
ECGULLS: Describe your overall experience as a student-athlete. What does it mean to you now/what did it mean to you while you were a student-athlete?
DOUGLAS: Overall, my student-athlete experience was unlike any experience I've had in my life. It gave me the opportunity to travel to places I'd never been, such as Buffalo and Portland, Maine, meet opponents from all walks of life (some who I still keep in touch with from time to time), and introduce me to sports I'd only seen on TV. It even gave me the chance to meet some prominent names in sports like Jim Calhoun and Clark Kellogg. While I was a student-athlete, it meant quite a lot because I felt like I was able to contribute to our school community through my various roles, whether it be with the cross country or volleyball teams, with the Endicott Observer as the Sports Editor, working at the Post Center, or interning with the athletics department. Looking back at it 17 years later, it means just as much to me now because I'm able to continue passing on what I learned from those experiences to my students and players.
ECGULLS: If we're not mistaken, you were part of the first (and only) conference championship in men's cross country program history. Talk about that, what does it mean to you? How much pride do you have from that?
DOUGLAS: It means so, so much to me to be a part of that '98 championship team, knowing that we experienced our own David vs. Goliath scenario in making that happen. Having come to Endicott fresh off of winning back-to-back conference team championships in cross country my junior and senior years at Northwest Catholic (West Hartford, Conn.), I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at Endicott, to be honest. Compared to other teams that we competed against, we were usually one of the smaller teams no matter where we ran, if not THE smallest. I remember showing up to Rivier College (now Rivier University) for the GNAC Championships and seeing the team from Johnson & Wales warming up with what seemed like an endless supply of runners (they were at least 20 deep at minimum). They were the Goliath to our David.
Then I looked at our guys - I think we had maybe seven or eight TOTAL- and thought to myself, "we can beat these guys." I think everyone else on our squad was thinking the same thing because the next thing you know, we've got three of our five top runners finishing the men's race in the top-7. Our captain, Travis Tate '99, won the race, while my classmate Jonah Hulbert took second, and I took sixth. Also, a side note to that day was my dad telling me later after the race that the Johnson & Wales team wondered out loud, very loudly actually, "Who the heck are these guys?"
Just writing about that day is giving me butterflies because I can remember how proud we all were after the race and not being able to stop looking at our collection of individual plaques, as well as our team plaque every time I walked into the old Bierkoe Gymnasium. Anytime I'm able to get back up to school I make it a point to see where our plaque sits in the trophy case at the Post Center, as well as our team on a banner in the gym. It takes me back to those days of late afternoon runs up and down Rt. 127 or in the woods surrounding our campus, and bonding with my teammates on van rides to places like Babson, UMass Dartmouth, and Regis. It was definitely a special team that I'll never forget.
ECGULLS: What was your favorite memory of being a student-athlete at Endicott?
DOUGLAS: Oh dear, I can only choose ONE?? I don't think I can do that!! I experienced so much as a cross country and volleyball student-athlete that it would be quite the challenge to narrow all those moments down to just one. The '98 GNAC cross country championship certainly stands out, for sure, but I also remember a five-set thriller at Lasell my junior year (my first year on the volleyball team) that we won in a dramatic fashion where I felt like I was in a zone defensively at the net. Even my Senior Night match against Johnson & Wales (another five-setter) was exciting because we had to beat them to qualify for our conference tournament. I could also even mention when I was a student manager for the baseball team, had my name announced at Hadlock Field in Portland, Maine during the NCAA Tournament and got to join the team on the field during starting lineup announcements. Simply put, I can't name just one - it's impossible!!
ECGULLS: We see it all the time on social media but why do you have SO MUCH pride in regards to Endicott? You seem so supportive of all the teams here and it hasn't gone unnoticed. Talk to us about that.
DOUGLAS: I take so much pride in Endicott Athletics because I love to see the continued growth and development of the program as a whole, knowing that I was a part of the foundation of student-athletes that helped get the program to where it is today. I take tremendous pride because I remember the days where most of our sports were played on South Campus, and we did what we could with what we had, not knowing what successes lied ahead as the Post Center was under construction. Because of that, I can appreciate what the program has grown into, solidifying itself among the top programs in the region, if not the country. That's a true testament to our athletic directors, Coach Larry Hiser and now Brian Wylie and the entire athletics staff who constantly created opportunities over the years for us student-athletes to succeed. I'm so supportive because I want people to know just who Endicott College is, and just how far we've come from those early days to reap the successes that our programs are enjoying now. When our teams do well today, they do so knowing that many Gulls' student-athletes that came before them, like me, are right there enjoying their success with them, no matter where in the world we may be.
ECGULLS: What do you miss most about your Endicott experience?
DOUGLAS: I miss the close-knit community, above anything. Our school was small enough where you honestly felt like you knew everyone. No matter what was happening on campus, it was almost a given that there would be a considerable amount of people in attendance because we all took pride in our school and representing it as best as we could.
ECGULLS: What are you doing now professionally? How did your overall experience at Endicott get you to where you are today?
DOUGLAS: I am in my 15th year of teaching, currently as a 5th-grade teacher at St. Matthew School in Bristol, Conn. I'm also in my third year as an assistant women's volleyball coach at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn., primarily responsible for recruiting. My overall experience at Endicott got me to where I am today by reminding me to expect the unexpected and continue to expand my horizons. I originally went to Endicott to become involved in sports television through majoring in communications, but I also took some courses that appealed to my personal interests too, like jazz, writing, and sports. After I graduated, I used my experience with the Endicott Observer to start a newspaper club at two of the schools I've taught at. I also took my experience on the volleyball and cross country teams and used it to get into coaching high school track and field for six years, and boys and girls volleyball for 11 years before moving up to the college level.
ECGULLS: Give me your thoughts on Endicott's continued success both athletically and as a college as a whole.
DOUGLAS: Athletically, and as a college as a whole, there's only one legendary soul who is primarily responsible for our success - DOC WYLIE. His vision of where he saw our school headed has never been lost on me, and it's been almost 17 years since I graduated and I STILL appreciate everything he did for our school. He allowed everyone who walked on campus to do what they needed to do to be successful. He was our #1 fan. I honestly don't know where we would be, as a school, without him. May he rest in peace with eternal Gull pride.