Around Tappan Square



Around Tappan Square
Streak of a Different Nature
by Mark Simon
Jeff Ramsey

THE YEOMEN ARE A PATIENT BUNCH. They would have to be at Oberlin, where the football team bearing that nickname (whose dictionary definition is "diligent and dependable workers") has spent nearly the last three seasons in football purgatory.

A 29-game losing streak would make pessimists out of a lot ofpeople, but notfirst-year coach Jeff Ramsey.

There are reasons for this of course, most of which pertain to Ramsey's alma mater, University of California at Davis.

"That program won 12 games in the 1960s," said Ramsey, who played and coached there in the early '80s under recent College Football Hall of Fame inductee Jim Sochor. "Then they won 20 consecutive (Northern California Athletic Conference) titles, an all-division record. There are always programs you can look to and say that this can be done (here). Winning that first game will be the biggest hurdle. Once that happens, the kids will believe."

Things look grim with his team ending the season 0-10 and having been outscored 252-22 in its last five lopsided defeats, but Ramsey is big on making a fresh start. After coaching as an assistant at Sonoma State, Marietta, and Illinois, Ramsey left football to become a manager for a wholesale book distributor, whose offices are located in Oberlin.

Three years later the bug was back and the opening was practically next door after then-coach Pete Peterson resigned. Ramsey took the job. At his first team meeting in the spring, only 18 players showed up. By the time the season had started, he had nearly twice as many. Initially, his quarterback moved to safety and his top line backer moved to guard so the team could fill out its lineup.

"I knew," said Ramsey about how he examined the football program, "that it had nowhere to go but up."

Some opponents may chuckle when Oberlin's team takes the field, but the coach finds some of his player's accomplishments fascinating under the circumstances. One starting defensive lineman comes from England and grew up on rugby. He's still learning a new sport. Another lineman, Kwesi Skinner, is legally blind in his right eye, but still has tremendous passion for the sport.

"He knows the risks he's taking and he wants to play," Ramsey said. "A guy like that--you love to have him."

We won't get into the statistics and we won't delve into the 42-6 opening day loss to a Swarthmore program that prior to that game had the longest losing streak in the nation. Ramsey admits that his team isn't any good.

But he's here to promise that things will get better. One freshman, wide receiver Cody McCoy, was all-state small-school first team in Ohio. Another, linebacker Mike McClendon, was a large-school honorable mention. Ramsey promises that any player he recruits will be a starter at the high school level. The facility, with three weight rooms and an indoor track, and the solid academic reputation of the college are appealing to most that come to the campus.

"I think with any program there is the possibility for success," Ramsey said. "What determines the success is how hard the coaches work. If we wait for kids to come to us, it's not going to get done. People can blame anybody but that's not going to get it done. Our kids have a tough time believing--believing that they can win. They've been beat up for so long, we're just trying to take it one down and one series at a time. My job is to make them better."

Reprinted by permission of the author, Mark Simon, and



Alumni Association Names New President; Hard-Working Volunteers Are Honored
Diane Kenty and Peter Kirsch

Passing the gavel to the newest president of the Oberlin Alumni Council in November, Peter Kirsch '79 ended his two-year position as the organization's tireless volunteer leader. In stepped Diane Kenty '77 of Bath, Maine, an attorney and director of Court Alternative Dispute Resolutions for the State of Maine Judicial Branch. Within the Alumni Council, Diane has chaired the admissions advisory committee and served as admissions coordinator and member of the campaign steering committee.Her leadership is warmly supportedby alumni.

The Association honored several alums during its Fall Alumni Council meeting and dinner November 8 and 9, including Danette DiBiasio Wineberg '68, who received the Distinguished Service Award for 1999. Danette is a former president of the Association and remains very active on behalf of the College.

Danette Wineberg

Volunteer of the Year Awards were presented to four alums, including new class president Janet Heininger '74, who was named Class Agent of the Year. Jan single-handedly secured over $160,000 worth of pledges and funds for the 25th Reunion Class Gift and helped exceed the original goal of $300,000 by $107,000 while serving in the dual role of class agent and reunion gift committee chair.

Former Class President David Goodman '74, now vice president, managed to recruit more members to their 25th class reunion last summer than any in recent history. With help from his class, he coordinated two successful Commencement symposia and organized class discussion forums, a luncheon, and a recital. He received the Class President of the Year award.

Jan Heininger

Joel Kadis '83 was recognized as the Admissions Coordinator of the Year, a task he began ten years ago in New York and later in Boston. He helped establish links with the Alumni Office's regional coordinators, train new coordinators, and recently joined the Admissions Advisory Committee.

The Regional Co-Coordinators of the Year, Peter Flint '92 and Samuel Servello '87, found time and energy to plan a number of special events for alumni in their region. Concerts, films, faculty lectures, a swing dance, and community service days were among a few.

Other alumni honored were the four executive board members whose terms ended in 1999, including Carl Gerber '58, Maxine Wenzler Houck '58, Gregory Kehm '88, and dt ogilvie '70.

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