QUARTERLY PUBLICATION OF DARTMOUTH PEAK PERFORMANCE & DARTMOUTH ATHLETIC SPONSORS SPRING 2015
IN THIS ISSUE PIECING THE PUZZLE PAGE 10
GENTLE GIANT PAGE 18
NET GAIN PAGE 22
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DOWNHILL RACER Lizzie Kistler â€™16 finished the 2015 season ranked third in the East in slalom. The Big Green claimed 6th place at the NCAA Championships this year
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SCHOOL DAY SWISH Andi Norman ’18 sinks a free throw in a 49-43 win against Hartford on December 4. Over 1,000 local school children attended the mid-week day game through Dartmouth’s School Day promotion. READ MORE ABOUT WOMEN’S BASKETBALL COACH BELLE KOCLANES ON PAGE 10.
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ANCIENT EIGHT SPOILERS Big Green Menâ€™s Basketball won five games in a row to finish the regular season including a 59-58 comefrom-behind win over Yale in the regular season finale that denied the Bulldogs an outright league title. Dartmouth participated in the postseason for the first time since 1959.
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QUARTERLY PUBLICATION OF DARTMOUTH PEAK PERFORMANCE & DARTMOUTH ATHLETIC SPONSORS SPRING 2015
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10 PIECING THE PUZZLE Women’s Basketball coach Belle Koclanes has an endless supply of puzzles, games and visual distractions in her office, but none of those keep her from the task of building a program that embodies family. 18 GENTLE GIANT Gabas Maldunas arrived in America with little knowledge of the Ivy League, but he will leave Hanover as one of the most decorated men’s basketball players in recent memory.
PEAK Dartmouth Peak Performance 6083 Alumni Gym Hanover, NH 03755 EDITOR Drew Galbraith ASSISTANT EDITOR Emily Cummings
22 NET GAIN Both Men’s and Women’s Tennis are on the fast track to success. What’s in the water fountains at the Boss Tennis Center? 27MENTAL REP Mark Hiatt plays a vital (and delicate) role for many Dartmouth teams and athletes. Go behind the scenes with DP2’s sport psychologist.
ABOVE: Baseball coach Bob Whalen confers with his team during its seasonopening trip to nationally-ranked Texas A&M to open the 2015 season. The Big Green went on to win their eigth straight Red Rolfe Division title.
SENIOR WRITER Bruce Wood ADVERTISING Sam Hopkins ASSISTANT EDITOR Katelyn Stravinsky CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Bob Miller, Donnie Brooks, Claudette Peck, Steven Spaulding Katelyn Stravinsky PHOTOGRAPHY Rob Bossi, Mark Washburn, Gil Talbot, John Risley, Mike Scott, Problems or Accessibility Issues? firstname.lastname@example.org © 2015 Trustees of Dartmouth College
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PIECING THE PUZZLE BY BRUCE WOOD
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One of five children, Michele “Belle” Koclanes grew up in a tight knit, Greek-Italian family in the neat Westchester County bedroom community of Pelham, N.Y., a 25-minute train ride from Grand Central Station on the MetroNorth line. She is one of 21 grandchildren on the Italian side of the family and all have T-shirts with the family surname and a numeral screened onto them. She smiles at the memory. “My number is six,” she says. Koclanes pauses a second, perhaps thinking about all those family gatherings with the cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents while growing up outside of New York City. “That’s why I was a great point guard,” she continues. “Because I had to share everything growing up.” Koclanes isn’t being immodest about her college career. She’s being truthful. Although she’s just five feet tall she cast a huge shadow at the University of Richmond, where she graduated sixth on the all-time scoring list with 1,205 points. That’s a serious accomplishment, but biggest contribution was helping her teammates score. With 793 career assists she more than doubled the previous Richmond record of 381. The two-time Academic All-American set a school record of 221 assists in one year, led the conference in “helpers” every winter and graduated 13th in NCAA history with 7.08 assists per game in a career. “I knew I had to share the ball early,” she says. “I mention that because that’s who I am. All I know is family and sharing.” Spend an hour listening to Koclanes talk about what she is trying to do at Dartmouth, and how she’s going about doing it, and so much of it comes back to that one word. “We are a family; that’s the culture,” Koclanes says. “That’s what we want to create here. We are a family and we hope people can see and feel that as soon as they meet us.” Taking over a proud Dartmouth women’s basketball program that had lost its way in recent years, Koclanes spent her first year as a head coach tackling simultaneous challenges. She had to mold the group she inherited into the best team she could – while at the same time identifying and attracting players who would play key roles in the Big Green’s next Ivy League championship. The immediate challenge was to improve the product on 12
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the floor. It wouldn’t be easy but she wasn’t about to make excuses. That’s simply not in her makeup. “I don’t want to hear the problems,” she says. “Anyone can sit there and tell you what’s wrong. That hard part is to figure out how are we going to solve the problem. We are a solutionoriented staff.” When Koclanes was hired to replace Chris Wielgus in February of 2013, she inherited a diverse roster of 17 players. There was a senior point guard who had started 64 games over her first three years and her fellow co-captain who had scored just four points the previous season. There was the walk-on from just down the street and there were players from halfway around the world. There were the tall and the not-so-tall, the black and the white, the in-pretty-good-shape and yes, the out-of-shape. “I love the challenge of taking a group of people that are so different from each other and bringing them together,” Koclanes says. “No matter how different they all are, they have one thing in common. Basketball. That’s our family.” There’s that word again. It’s a concept Koclanes talked about with the players she met during the interview process and reiterated at her first team meetings. It’s something she brings up with recruits and their families as well as those curious about her approach to her role. In her comfortable Leede Arena office Koclanes takes a small, tin box off a corner shelf. She removes the top of the container and spills game pieces onto a coffee table. Out clatter Monopoly tokens. Dice and pale yellow Bananograms tiles are soon prinkled amid miniature checkers and chess pieces. “I am visual,” Koclanes explains. “This is what I show people when they visit. I’m sure some people are like, ‘What in the world is she doing?’ “We bring in recruits and families who look different. They have different values. They sound different and sometimes speak different languages. When they join our team you have this ‘hot mess’ as they say now.” To turn the so-called hot mess into a cohesive team,
I love the challenge of taking a group of people that are so different from each other and bringing them together. No matter how different they all are, they have one thing in common. Basketball. Thatâ€™s our family.â€?
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Koclanes explains, required shaping a new culture from the game pieces that she would put on the floor starting in her first season. Koclanes likes acronyms. She starts to flip over the Bananagrams and soon the word RAP is revealed. The three letters represent the core values she is trying to instill in her current players, and that she requires in players she is recruiting. The R, she points out, is for Respect. Players on a championship team have to respect each other, their opponents, the officials and the game. “If there is a loose ball and you don’t dive after it, that’s disrespecting the game,” Koclanes says. “Respecting the game is working hard. Every time you walk out onto the Leede Arena floor you have to respect those who came before you with the energy, enthusiasm and pride that you bring to it.” The A stands for Attitude. “It has to be positive,” Koclanes says. “It’s as simple as that. It can be hard for young adults because who knows what the day brings? My goodness there’s all sorts of stuff going on in their lives but we have to be sure that we are growing and maturing every day. We have to be able to take deep breaths and say, ‘OK, when I am with my team I am giving them the best I can.’ “It can be hard,” she continues. “I know it’s hard. But that’s why we have a team. We have to hold each other accountable to having a positive atittude.” The P, Koclanes almost sheepishly admits, “is a Coach Belleism, because I say it all the time. It’s Preparation. If you are going to do something in your life, do it well and be prepared
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for it. We talk about the way we prepare for opponents in practice. If we have a team meeting, you should prepare for it the same way you prepare for a class. That’s a life skill.” Sitting down and having direct conversations with every player on the roster after her hiring told Koclanes there was much work to be done in all three RAP areas for a team that had gone 19-65 overall and limped to a 11-31 Ivy League mark since the seniors arrived on campus. “Meeting with the players I asked them what immediate change did they want to see in the program,” Koclanes says. “Every single one of them said work ethic and accountability. “I was like, ‘Well, what are you guys waiting for? If you know what you need to do, do it. That’s on you in a lot of ways.’ ” The Big Green finished 5-23 overall and 2-12 in the Ivy League in Koclanes’ first year. That was disappointing but not a huge surprise to the first-year head coach and assistants Addie Micir – the 2011 Ivy League Player of the Year at Princeton – and Maria Noucas. “We covered a lot of ground in year one but we knew we weren’t going to necessarily see it on the scoreboard,” says Koclanes. “Our focus was skill development. We wanted to pull everything we possibly could out of them as basketball players. “Skills don’t change overnight but if you know a thing or two about basketball you could see the progression. We were competing in the second round of the Ivies. Yeah, sure, we weren’t getting the ‘Ws.’ Wins are hard to come by, but we were competing at a much higher level come January and February.” During the first season she introduced a new language, asking her players to TAC when an opponent is OOC. (Take a
charge when someone is out of control.) Likewise, players no longer have weaknesses. They have “growth opportunities.” Players aren’t injured. They are “healing.” “We keep everything positive,” she says. “It is a mindset. The critics will say you need to be real. Well, I am as real as it gets. But you also have to keep a positive mindset because if there’s one thing I have noticed about this team when I first arrived, it was we really had to work on our selfawareness and confidence.” Koclanes has set about introducing behaviors she hopes will become tradititions. Players stay engaged on the bench by clapping twice for each made foul shot by a teammate and once on a miss. Warming up before the game with determination is expected. Players are to run off the floor for timeouts. Looking teammates, coaches, professors and others in the eye when talking with them is de riguer. The highlight of Koclanes’ first season was a 53-50 win over Penn on Feb. 22, the Quakers’ only loss in a 14-game span. Penn would go on to win the Ivy League title while Dartmouth would go back to work. “We want to be champions but we don’t necessarily focus on winning,” says Koclanes, who promised herself she would make her pregame and postgame speeches memorable in the manner of her legendary mentor while an assistant at Old Dominion, Wendy Larry. “If you get so caught up in outcome you are not going to get there. That’s our mindset. We are focused on the process. That’s another saying we have. Trust the process.” The first year was indeed a learning process, for the players as well as their coach. “As you know, some coaches come in and they dismantle right off the bat,” Koclanes says. “That’s not what I believe
in. I believe in coming in and listening. I was taught that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. I wanted to listen and I wanted to get a feel and a pulse for really what was going on here, and then gradually make the changes that needed to be made.” Along with RAP, Koclanes adopted the acronym CORE to summarize characteristics she deems essential to players in her program. They needed to have Character, a good Offensive skillset, Relentlessness in rebounding, on defense and effort, and a consistent drive for Excellence. Soon after her first season wrapped up Koclanes adjusted the roster and let the remaining players know what to expect. “We had very direct and honest conversations,” she says. “We said to the team just because you have a roster spot now does not mean you will have one come fall. You will have to earn it. I told them if you’re going to commit to something in your life, commit to it and do it right.” Spring was spent on skill development, what Koclanes likes to call “vitamins.” There was regular one-one one work with position coaches. Players were given strength and conditioning programs and were warned that a newer, more challenging fitness test would be coming. The coaches leaned on Assistant AD for leadership Stephen Spaulding to help the players understand their fitness responsibilities as members of a team, DP2 nutritionist Claudette Peck and the conditioning staff to help remake the players’ bodies and Director of Integrative Health Anna Terry to keep them going with massage and yoga. “We weren’t in the best shape last year,” Koclanes says. “As an athlete it all starts with your strength and conditioning. Your skills will only take you so far if you are
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not in peak condition.” The returning players took the message to heart, none so much as junior forward Lakin Roland, who not only performed like a different player this year but looked like one. “Her body is just completely different,” says Koclanes. “Leaner. Stronger. She can get up and down and play 40 minutes. Daisy Jordan is another one who is leaner and stronger. Milica (Toskovic) is another. “The team is in the best shape they have ever been in, but it is nowhere near where we want them. Why? Because we have really high standards and expectations.” Over a four-week fall training camp of sorts the Dartmouth coaches evaluated the returning players who had worked so hard in the offseason. And with that Koclanes – who studied leadership at Richmond and valued the input and support she received from Spaulding – made cuts based on her CORE criteral. “They were really important decisions that affected young lives,” she says. “They were hard conversations but the decisions were all thorough and well thought out.” Of the 15 underclassmen who finished the 2013-14 season, eight would be on the roster when Dartmouth opened Koclanes’ second
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season in mid-November. They were joined by five freshmen the coach refers to as her “first followers.” The ever-visual Koclanes defaults to a YouTube video with more than 12 million hits to flesh out the idea of a “firstfollower.” “Have you ever seen the video leadership lessons from a dancing guy?” she asks. “That’s my vision for our program. The video starts out with a guy dancing by himself in a field and everyone is kind of looking at him like, ‘What in the world is this guy doing?’ Then this one person joins him. That person is the first follower. Before you know it, everyone is dancing.” It wasn’t the original dancer who was responsible for the success of the venture, Koclanes says. It was those brave enough to join him. During home visits with potential recruits in her first year Koclanes talked about the chance to play a role in renewing the tradition of excellence in women’s basketball at Dartmouth. She capped her presentation by showing the video and inviting the players to dance with her. To take a chance on a program that might be down, but won’t be for long. Koclanes: “I tell them, ‘I am asking you not to take that scholarship. I’m asking you not to go to that other school that right now is a little bit more established on the women’s basketball front.’ We know we have a climb to make. ‘I am asking you to be my first follower. Our first follower who believes in what we are doing.’ ” Five freshmen took her up on the challenge. Dartmouth opened the season with Roland leading scoring 18 points and hauling down 11 rebounds with a 68-63 win over NJIT. First follower Amber Mixon started and played 35 minutes. Four days later the Big Green beat Holy Cross, 69-53, for its first 2-0 start in nine years. A cross country flight later Dartmouth improved to 4-0, with Roland posting a 29-point, 11-rebound double-double in a win over Cal Poly, and the Big Green following that with a victory against Kent State. After suffering its first loss Dartmouth bounced back with a 49-43 win over Hartford, the first over Jen Rizzotti’s Hawks in 10 tries. Dartmouth capped its best start in recent years with a 76-61 win at Harvard with Mixon starting and playing 30 minutes at the point and Roland pouring in 25 points, grabbing nine rebounds and recording three steals. But, not surprisingly, a young team would take its lumps. In the aftermath of the big win over Harvard the Big Green let a substantial lead slip away and lost to the Crimson at Leede Arena. What was a disappointment to Dartmouth fans was another in a series of teachable moments for its coach. “Our seniors aren’t used to being up 10 points, ever in their careers,” she says. “Not to be dramatic about it but it’s a new experience for them so naturally they feel pressure. “I need them to just continue to focus on the process and what we are doing and not starting to think about wins and losses. If they devote themselves to getting better every day, making practice more competitive every day, and competing hard at every position the outcome will take care of itself.” And so will the future.
SPONSORS WHO ARE THE ATHLETIC SPONSORS?
Athletic Sponsors include more than 1,000 Dartmouth alumni, parents and supporters who love Dartmouth, who love sports, who either played or watched athletics as undergraduates, and who feel that Dartmouth should be a leader in the classroom and on the field. We are men and women in our 20’s and our 90’s and we are represented by nearly every class. WHY DO WE DO WHAT WE DO?
We know that success on the playing surface begins long before the contest starts... it has its genesis in recruiting. Without outstanding talent, success can only be an occasional dream. We are therefore committed to providing Dartmouth coaches with the resources they need to recruit exceptional student-athletes. We also know that Dartmouth has a unique and powerful trump card. The campus is close to irresistible when experienced in person. That’s Dartmouth’s edge! The trick is to get impact scholar-athletes face to face with this great institution to make a decision for Dartmouth. That’s the primary focus of what we do. We fly student-athletes to Hanover and send coaches to their homes. HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS TO THE COLLEGE?
Very! While the NCAA allows one paid visit to campus, the Ivy League legislates that those expenses cannot be budgeted items. That’s where we come in. We provide the non-budgeted funds. Every year we fly in about 250 potential impact athletes, and of those recruits accepted by the Admissions Office, the vast majority (about 90%) decide to enroll at Dartmouth. WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT?
Satisfaction and pride! You’ll be sent our official online newsletter Peak, and your name will be listed in the next season’s home football programs. If you choose certain membership levels (see box at right) you will also be informed of a specific athlete whose recruiting trip your donation made possible, so you can follow his or her progress through four years at Dartmouth. Most important, all Sponsors share the rewards of helping young men and women make a decision to embark on the very special “Dartmouth Experience.” That’s the real reason our program has grown from 6 members in 1955 to more than 1,000 today!
Sponsors and Friends enjoy the complimentary pre-game tent overlooking Memorial Field at each home football game
Assigned a recruit every 3-4 years
Assigned a recruit every 1-2 years and listed on our Leadership display in Alumni Gym
Assigned recruit annually, Leadership display & special recognition in football program
$5000 & up
Assigned recruit annually, Leadership display, special recognition in the football program & VIP Reception at Homecoming
To contact the Athletic Sponsor Program office, please call 603-646-2463 or email Athletic.Sponsor.Program@Dartmouth.edu
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GABAS MALDUNAS ARRIVED IN AMERICA WITH LITTLE KNOWLEDGE OF THE IVY LEAGUE, BUT HE WILL LEAVE HANOVER AS ONE OF THE MOST DECORATED MEN’S BASKETBALL PLAYERS IN RECENT MEMORY. BY BRUCE WOOD
he lanky center on the Dartmouth men’s basketball team has a problem and he knows it. He’s been hearing about it from Big Green coach Paul Cormier regularly over his four years in Hanover. He is occasionally reminded of it by his teammates. And if he happens to pick up the local newspaper he could periodically read about it. Understand, it’s not a bad problem to have. In fact, it’s a good problem for a person to have, although not necessarily for a Division I basketball player. Gabas Maldunas, the 6-foot-9 Lithuanian hub of the Big Green basketball wheel, is quite literally, a gentle giant. “I don’t know if I have ever coached as nice a person in my life as Gabas, or someone who cares as much about his teammates,” said Cormier. “That is something you cherish about him, but there can be a carryover onto the court and that has been a struggle for him.” Don’t get the wrong idea. Maldunas has had a very good career at Dartmouth, making the second All-Ivy League team as a sophomore, becoming the 26th Big Green player to surpass the 1,000-point mark late in his senior year and becoming just one of five players in school history to collect 500 blocked shots. It’s just that it is more in his nature as a person – and therefore as a basketball player – to help the other guy up than to knock him down. “I guess I have a nice-guy personality and am a little laid back,” Maldunas admitted in near-perfect English that has come a long way since he left the Lithuanian city of Panevezys as a high schooler to study and play basketball at Holderness
School in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. “It can be kind of hard to pump me up. I like to be a nice guy, but sometimes I have to forget that and just do what needs to be done on the court. That’s not always easy for me.” To be sure, when the big fellow whose Twitter feed is fittingly subtitled, “Life is great,” finds it within himself to take out a little aggression on the opposition he can be one of the most formidable talents in the Ivy League. There may not be a big man in the conference who can take a pass at the foul line, put the ball on the floor, spin to the basketball and finish with either hand the way he can. He’s got a nice baby hook, great timing on the defensive end, a knack for blocking shots and a European big man’s ability to find the open player. As a freshman he was a four-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week, pouring in 23 points in a game against Yale and posting four double-doubles. As a sophomore he led Dartmouth in scoring with 11.4 points per game and was third in the conference in rebounding, fourth in blocks and ninth in scoring average on the way to earning the berth on the All-Ivy second team. Last year he was leading the Ivy League in rebounding and the Big Green in scoring through 15 games before his season was abruptly ended by a devastating knee injury in practice that required reconstructive surgery. Ignoring the seven-hour time difference in Lithuania, his father has been able to tune in to the Ivy League Digital Network and watch him put together a 27-point, 10-rebound double-double against Jacksonville State. Maldunas turned in a 15-rebound, nine-point game against Brown, clogged the middle with five blocked shots in an impressive win over NJIT P E A K | SPR I N G 201 5
It’s awesome to meet people from so many different parts of the world and the U.S. who have come to one place with the same goals, helping each other out. The network that you make is one of my most favorite parts of what Dartmouth has to offer.”
and shot 6-for-9, 6-for-8 and 6-for-9 again in consecutive games against Penn, Princeton and Brown in the first lap around the Ivy League. That despite still being limited by the knee problem that even a year later hadn’t completely healed. “I don’t feel 100 percent from last year,” he confided as the Ivy League season wound down, “but I feel like I am giving 100 percent toward playing basketball.” Although he grew up more than 4,000 miles from the country that gave basketball to the world, the game has always been important to Maldunas. Kids all over Europe dream of scoring goals for Manchester United or Real Madrid or Juventus, but in Lithuania they idolize LeBron and Michael. They go to sleep hoping to follow in the footsteps of countrymen Arvydas Sabonis and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, men who are revered for putting the ball in the net with their hands instead of their feet. “Basketball is way bigger than soccer in Lithuania,” said Maldunas. “It is called the second religion and it’s true.” Still, Panevezy – the fifth-largest city in Lithuania with a population of about 115,000 – is actually a bit of an outlier in the basketball-crazed nation. “In my hometown soccer is a little more popular but basketball is still big,” Maldunas said. “Growing up, all my friends played basketball.” Like most kids, Maldunas kicked a soccer ball around the playground, but he never played the game formally. It was always – and only – basketball. There were plenty of courts near the Maldunas apartment when he was younger. And after the family moved to their own house when he was 12, “I told my parents you can’t live in a house without a hoop outside,” he said. “So they built a hoop for me.” All the hours shooting in the driveway and playing club basketball paid off when the promising youngster was singled out at basketball camp in Panevezys and offered a chance to develop his game at a prep school in the faraway United States.
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“I was 6-4 and 15 years old when this guy who sends lots of players from Lithuania to the U.S. offered me a spot at Holderness,” Maldunas recalled. “None of my parents’ friends had sent their children to the U.S. for school so my parents were kind of scared and debating whether to let me go.” Although Rimanas and Audrone Maldunas eventually agreed to send the youngest of their three children to the States, the journey was not without its bumps. He would have to endure a bit of an adjustment period before settling in. “I had no idea what a boarding school was,” he will admit now with a laugh. “I didn’t know what the NCAA was. I studied English at my school back home so I knew a little bit, but not enough to be successful right away. “The first couple of months were tough socially and I didn’t get good grades. It took me three or four months to get through that. I came in September so after New Year’s I could feel the difference and everything started to go the right way.” Although his father is about 6-3 and his mother just 5-8, Maldunas continued to grow after coming to the United States. Sprouting to the 6-8 he would stand at graduation – he grew another inch while at Dartmouth – helped Maldunas attract recruiting attention. Conversations with his coach and a friend who played at Princeton helped him better understand the value of ending up in the Ivy League. “So that became a goal throughout my junior year,” he explained. A strong summer on the AAU circuit with the Expressions Elite program and a McDonald’s All-American nomination brought him an offer from Brown. But when the Bears seemed to be losing interest, Maldunas pulled the plug and decommitted. Cormier was more than happy to swoop in and help a kid who grew up half a world away but was playing high school basketball just 70 minutes across the state the chance to realize his Ivy League dream. “I thought he had a chance to be special,” said Cormier. “It helped us that he was having a good experience at Holderness because he was comfortable in this type of environment where some kids would be more comfortable in a city like Providence.” Dartmouth’s main competition for Maldunas was the University of New Hampshire, where, interestingly, current Cormier assistant Jean Bain was recruiting him. But in January of his senior year at Holderness the Bulls’ big man made his decision official. The kid who knew nothing about the NCAA when he arrived in the United States had come to understand what the Ivy League is all about and gladly jumped at Cormier’s offer. “I thought I was a smart kid and should take this opportunity,” he said with a smile. Even if, he added, not everyone back in Lithuania quite understood. Harvard they had heard of. Princeton they knew. Yale some would recognize. But Dartmouth? That was a different matter. “Obviously, my parents and friends know now,” he said, “but for other people it is hard to explain how good a school it is. Also, because in the Lithuanian language ‘college’ means a community college. When I tell people where I go that’s what they think of.”
Maldunas has thrived both on and off the court at Dartmouth, earning Academic All-Ivy recognition, being named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court, joining a fraternity, volunteering at the Upper Valley homeless shelter and helping out at a local senior housing community and all the while making friends all over campus. “Throughout my Dartmouth career I’ve met more and more people,” he said. “It’s awesome to meet people from so many different parts of the world and the U.S. who have come to one place with the same goals, helping each other out. The network that you make is one of my most favorite parts of what Dartmouth has to offer.” Maldunas is an economics major who hopes to put his degree to work one day in Europe, perhaps in London, where his sister is an investment banker. Before then, however, he has another dream. “I would love to play professional basketball,” he said. “That’s the plan. I can’t talk to any agents yet but I’m sure there are people who will want to take a look at me when I’m able to play the way I was before I injured my knee. I would love to play in Italy, or Spain or Germany, or maybe in Lithuania.” And he hasn’t yet abandoned the dream of playing for the Lithuanian national team. Cormier, who spent many years in the NBA and scouted his share of pro hopefuls, is confident his big man can find a home on the European hardwood. “He will play overseas and have a good career if that’s what he wants,” the coach said. “I actually think it will help him when he’s not one of the better players, which he has always been with us. With better players around him, and the attention not on him, I think he will really be able to surprise some people with his skillset.” Of course, there’s still that matter of being too nice, something Cormier has spent four years working on. “Even in practice, if someone muscles him he feels funny about it,” he said. “‘l’ll get on him and ask, ‘Are you going to let him manhandle you?’ His response, if you didn’t know him a little better, might be, ‘Well, he’s my teammate.’ That’s how nice a kid he is. “We’ve tried to get him to be tougher by being a little meaner to him,” the coach continued. “He’s got to hate me sometimes and play that way.” The way he swatted that shot and roared at the end of the lateseason win over Penn at Leede Arena might have been a harbinger of what’s to come, but the hate part Cormier referenced simply isn’t in the easygoing Lithuanian’s genes. “I knew his family but this past year when we went to Italy I really go to know them,” Cormier said. “They are one of the nicest families you could ever imagine. I remember coming back home and telling my wife that Gabas is a perfect example of the adage you are what you come from. You are how you were brought up. “Gabas is going to be a very, very special father. A very special husband and a very special company guy whoever he marries and whoever he works for.” Even if he’d still rather pick someone from another team off the floor than knock him down.
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NET GAIN BOTH MEN’S AND WOMEN’S TENNIS ARE ON THE FAST TRACK TO SUCCESS. WHAT’S IN THE WATER FOUNTAINS IN THE BOSS TENNIS CENTER? BY BRUCE WOOD
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Dartmouth’s Alexis Boss Tennis Center was recognized in 2002 as the Tennis Industry Magazine court of the year, and a couple of years later it was one of just four collegiate centers in the nation honored with a United States Tennis Association Facility Award. The Alexis Boss Tennis Center & Alan Gordon Pavilion remains one of the crown jewels of the Dartmouth athletic complex and now, more than a decade after receiving accolades for its design and implimentation, the building’s prime residents are earning important recognition of their own. In early February the Dartmouth women’s tennis team posted a stunning shutout of top-seeded Princeton and beat defending champion Columbia by the same score on the way to the 2015 ECAC Championship. The men’s team, meanwhile, also made it to the ECAC Championship finals before losing at No. 30 Harvard. The Dartmouth women got off to a 10–0 start this winter, winning the last five matches of the run by a combined 26-1 count. The men’s team opened the winter with a couple of lopsided victories before knocking off No. 66 Denver and dropping a 4-3 decision to No. 64 Indiana. Their run in the ECACs included victories over ranked St. John’s and Brown teams. Add it up and women’s coach Bob Dallis, now in his 13th year at the helm, believes that 15 years after coming on line the Boss Tennis Center has a couple of tenants it can be justifiably proud of. “When I started here the analogy I would use was we had this lovely mansion, the Alexis Boss Center and Alan Gordon Pavilion, with no furniture,” said Dallis. “We were an empty vessel, but now that’s changed.” Not that there weren’t high points even in difficult times. In 2011 the Big Green won women won their first and only Ivy League championship, finishing tied atop the standings with Yale at 6-1. And in 2012 the men’s team coached by Chris Drake had a shot at Dartmouth’s first conference championship in 16 years before dropping a 4-3 decision to Harvard. The men were strong again last year, posting a 5-2 mark in the Ivies. But for the most part it has been short periods of success punctuating long stretches of frustration or strong performances by overmatched squads that tried hard but couldn’t regularly compete against Ivy League powers.
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SAM TODD MEN’S TENNIS
One of the main reasons the future of Dartmouth tennis is bright is Chris Drake. What he does and how much he commits himself to our development as tennis players, citizens, and leaders is unmatched by any coach I’ve seen or heard of. His numbers speak for themselves and what he has done for this program, and I am honored to have played for him these past four years. We work really hard on our games and on our conditioning, and so to me it’s not entirely surprising we’ve had some success the past few years. Coach Drake has come in and changed the culture of Dartmouth tennis, and with it, the results of Dartmouth tennis, and there is no reason to believe the program will not continue to grow. We are still not where we want to be, so I am excited to see the future even after I graduate. We are so lucky to have the facilities we do: Boss Tennis Center is one of the best indoor college tennis facilities I have seen and Floren and Leverone are other great resources we have access too that help us perform at a high level. We also are so fortunate to play in front of such great fans, nicknamed “The Dog Pound” last year, who support us continually and make it fun to compete as a Dartmouth tennis player. It’s been great over my four years to see the growth of our schedule and now having the ability to play such great teams like Michigan, Michigan State, Florida State, TCU, etc. this year. I cannot wait for those opportunities and certainly having such a tough, but fun, schedule is a good way to test ourselves and improve. The other thing I love about this program is the feeling that you represent something more than yourself everyday: that you are always representing and competing for Dartmouth and Dartmouth tennis. The connection to alumni, both recent and in the distant past, as well the connection to teammates current are some of the off-court things I love about this team and that help us succeed. Sam Todd’s recruiting visit to Dartmouth was made possible by the generosity of Tench Coxe ’80 and Steve Mandel ’78 through the Athletic Sponsor Program. 24
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Between 2000 and 2009 the men’s team won just six Ivy League matches while losing 64. Except for the championship ’11 season the best the Dartmouth women could do between 2000 and 2013 were a couple of fourth-place finishes in Ivy League play. Both Dallis and Drake are confident the hard times are finally behind the Big Green programs in large part because systems are in place to enable them to bring better players to Hanover and then to develop them into even stronger players once they are on campus. It was the sense that a turnaround was in store that helped convince Drake – a two-time All-Ivy League pick and captain at Brown – to accept an offer to take over for the retiring Chuck Kinyon as Dartmouth head coach in 2011. “This was a program that had been struggling but things started to turn the year before I got here,” he said. “During the portion of my interview with the players you could see they were clearly excited. They had won a couple of Ivy League matches and were close to winning a third. “The players were excited and everybody I talked to around the (athletic) department had a really good feeling about athletics in general. They felt like things were going in the right direction, and that’s a big reason why I took the job – because I felt we would be supported and have a chance to be successful.” Dallis was feeling the same way at the same time. ThenPresident Jim Yong Kim had come in and made it clear he would push for athletic success, and the subsequent arrival of Athletic Director Harry Sheehy from Williams College – the Stanford of Division III – only reinforced the notion that better times were ahead. Recruiting is the lifeblood of virtually every college athletic program and with Kim and Sheehy in place there was a noticeable uptick in the quality of recruit being walked through the Boss Center after too many lean years and that continued with the arrive of President Philip Hanlon. To be sure, the Big Green had won the Ivy League women’s title in the spring of Sheehy’s first year, but for as hard as Dallis had worked on the recruiting trail, serendipity helped deliver the anchor of the championship team to Dartmouth. Molly Scott, a four-year All-Ivy League pick, happened to be the daughter of two Dartmouth graduates. “Despite telling her parents she wasn’t going to school where they went, she took an official visit and loved it,” said Dallis with a grin. “We got lucky.” The Ivy League championship notwithstanding, the depth on the women’s roster had been diminishing, at least in part as a result of the economic crash of 2008 and consequent belt tightening according to Dallis. The men’s team, meanwhile, was facing its own challenges. While the Big Green posted 4-3 Ivy League records in Drake’s first two seasons, nothing came easy. “We were closing the gap but we were behind in terms of talent on paper,” he said. “By my second year when we played a match for a share of the Ivy League title we had one five-star recruit along with guys who were three- or four-stars according to a recruiting website. Harvard was all five-star, blue-chip recruits, and we pushed them to the point of defeat. “We were closing the gap through work ethic, competitiveness on the court and the closeness of guys who were really, really hard workers playing for each other.”
Under Sheehy’s leadership recruiting roadblocks were lowered and the coaches began to bring up the talent level in Boss. “Our relationship with admissions changed greatly,” said Dallis. “No longer were we taking the players we could get and trying to make them as good a player as possible. We now were starting to select the class.” Aiding that cause was the addition of a development officer who strengthened the relationship with tennis alumni and brainstormed ways to bring in money, including fundraising dinners in New York City. With annual giving to tennis tripled, there have been dividends far beyond being able to buy players shoes, to pay for their racquet stringing, and to design and erect displays illustrating the history of the programs. “Having added resources has been important,” said Dallis. “Being able to make home visits or watch a kid practice has made a big difference. In our sport you basically bring in three kids a year and if you can average one-and-a-half kids that are super high level players a year that changes what your team is.” Exhibit A would be current No. 1 Taylor Ng, who some Ivy
League coaches might have missed because she didn’t follow the normal route and play on the national scene from an early age. Rather than focus simply on tennis, she played a variety of sports, and in fact was a very talented lacrosse player in New Jersey. Where it may have been cost-prohibitive in the past, Dallis was able to go to the outskirts of Philadelphia and watch her play three days in a row. “That’s when I realized she was very good,” he said. “I could also see how she carried herself on the court, which was important.” Talented players like men’s No. 1 Dovydas Sakinis can have coattails that attract other talented players which raises the competition in practice and in turn makes everyone better. Hanover was becoming more prominent on the college tennis map for accomplished high school players. “Recruiting is diligence in getting the word out,” Drake said. “Getting people to see our facility was a big key. When you walk through the doors and look over the courts it sends a message that tennis is the real deal here. “I remember when I was looking at schools in the Ivy League facilities hadn’t become the difference maker that they are now. I went to Brown which had four courts on top of their athletic department building. Brown didn’t have an amazing facility but nobody else really did. Since then so many people have upgraded.
TAYLOR NG WOMEN’S TENNIS
The future of the tennis program at Dartmouth should be bright for a variety of reasons. To start, within our team, we are very driven in all that we do – tennis, academics, extracurriculars, community service, etc. We all desire to be the best we can be – to set goals and achieve them. Speaking for the women’s tennis program, it is incredibly unique primarily, in my opinion, because of the culture that Coach Dallis cultivates day in and day out. Team chemistry is central to our success and something we focus on a lot. We all get along really well and push each other to do better within and outside of practice. Coach Dallis emphasizes that we all represent something greater than ourselves when we play. We represent each other, we represent our team, and we represent our school. I believe we all take a lot of pride in competing for Dartmouth, so when we step out on the court, we want to give our all each and every day. Additionally, another aspect that makes the Dartmouth tennis program unique is our focus on the mental side of competition. So often, teams focus on the physical end –training hard, drilling, and playing for hours upon hours. While we do focus a lot on the physical game itself, I believe our mental training differentiates us from other teams and other programs. At the college level, everyone has talent and skill. What differentiates top players and top programs is the ability to perform and to thrive in tight situations, to maintain composure and play confidently when matches are close. For the past two years, the Dartmouth men’s and women’s tennis teams have been working with Positive Performance mental training to improve our goal setting, our focus, and our relaxation, among other things. I believe that this year, we are really seeing some results from the mental training. We are more focused, we are setting goals and achieving them, and we are playing more confidently than ever before. I honestly cannot say enough positive things about the Dartmouth tennis program. I would reiterate something that Coach Dallis said, however, which is that this is just the beginning. We have had some great achievements, but there is a lot more to accomplish.Our goals moving forward include strong performances over spring break and, ultimately, an Ivy League Title. We are all very excited with where the program is at now, and we are looking forward to where it is headed in the future.
Taylor Ng’s recruiting visit to Dartmouth was made possible by the generosity of Darryl and Suzanne Tannenbaum DP and Albert G. Tierney III ’75 through the Athletic Sponsor Program. P E A K | SPR I N G 201 5
Harvard, Yale, Penn. The facilities are big deal now and I think ours is the best of them all.” Beyond concrete and mortar, sheet metal and glass and the addition of a large, new electronic scoreboard, the Dartmouth coaches had another weapon in Sheehy, the athletic director. “Harry has been an unbelievable resource for the tennis program,” said Dallis. “Two of our real key recruits, Jacqueline Crawford and Kristina Mathis, probably were sold by Harry’s commitment to the tennis program. Being able to sit in his office with their families and listen to what he has to say about Dartmouth, Dartmouth athletics and the role of DP2 was really, really valuable. “Having an athletic director who says, ‘Any time I am in town and you want to bring a recruit around I am happy to meet with them,’ is gigantic.” Identifying good players and recruiting them to Dartmouth were two legs of the tennis stool. The third has been developing them as athletes and tennis players. “I can I can tell recruits we have everything we need here to help them develop their games,” said Drake. “We have great facilities. We’ve got great academics. We have access to courts with coaches that are willing to work with you and help you improve. “The things DP2 has put in place have directly helped us whether it is strength and conditioning programs, massage, what Katelyn Stravinsky does with academics, or what Steven Spalding does in developing leadership. When you bring recruits around they can see the commitment and understand this is a place where you can be a serious athlete and student.” In conjunction with DP2 Dallis points to visits by Lindsay Wilson of Positive Performance Mental Training for helping the Big Green turn the corner. “She’s come in January the last two years and that has had a big influence on what we talk about, how we go about competing and raising our level of focus,” he said. Improved schedules made possible in part by the Friends group are attractive to recruits while giving players an opportunity to challenge themselves and the coaches the chance to size up their
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players and teams. The men’s schedule features a long list of big-name opponents like Minnestoa, Michigan, Florida State and Tulane. The women are tested this year by Mississippi State, Long Beach State, Houston and UC Irvine among others. “When you are playing teams that are really good, if you have anything that is going to be exposed, it will be exposed,” said Drake. “You learn what it takes to play at the level you want to play at.” The relationship between the men’s and women’s programs has benefited both teams as well. “Our programs have always gotten along well,” said Dallis. “We share everything from fundraising to equipment to the (stationary) bikes. There’s never a conflict about court time. Chris has been very generous if I say, ‘We’ve got a big match coming up and I need this girl to see a bigger ball. Can I borrow one of your guys for a halfhour?’ And he’s done that. Or it’s, ‘Hey Bob, one of my guys just wants to hit some balls, can he stay and hit with one of your girls?’ “There’s a nice relationship. Chris and I talk about tennis a good deal. When the men are seen as being successful I think that spurs the women on, and when the women’s team is successful I think that spurs the guys on. The sports are little bit different so what you may want to do training-wise might be a little bit different and how you go about building a great team might be a little bit different. But what they want to accomplish is the same. “They want to be great students. They want to be involved in their community. They want to compete, and they want to represent Dartmouth well.” Which is exactly what they are doing. Just like the Alexis Boss Center and Alan Gordon Pavilion.
Women’s Tennis received and at-large NCAA Tournament Bid. The men were the first team left out. Both finished second in the Ivy League
MENTAL REP The basketball center makes 75 percent of his free throws every day at practice but just 50 percent in games. The golfer with an uncanny ability to drain long putts no one expects to fall can only shake her head when she regularly misses 3-footers. The offensive lineman who almost never has a false start in the first three quarters of a game is flagged time and again in the fourth quarter after fatigue sets in. The team that has no trouble getting fired up for a Saturday showdown against a conference foe is almost always slow out of the blocks in those pesky middle-of-the-week, non-Ivy League games. What do all those things have in common? They can be as much about what is happening between the ears as between the lines, in the fieldhouse, or on the course. Mark Hiatt knows the toll that crises of confidence, flagging focus and motivational issues can take on physical performance. But he also knows those concerns can be successfully addressed, something he does regularly in his role as the Peak Performance sports psychologist. “One of the common things that I hear athletes talk about is the difference between how they perform in practice and how they perform in games and competitions,” said Hiatt, who is finishing up his certification by the Association for Applied Sports Psychology. “They will say they can do something in practice but there is a shift when they are competing.
“That can speak to some anxiety or distraction that may be out of their awareness but can still affect coordination and timing. There is a physiological impact to emotional tension. By practicing visualization and relaxation strategies they can gain confidence and start to feel calmer, which can lead to improvements.” Dartmouth women’s lacrosse coach Amy Patton relies on Hiatt’s expertise weekly, if not more often. “Confidence is so important for athletes at all levels and it can be stripped quickly by one thing happening in a game,” she said. “Where I have found Mark incredibly useful is talking through with the kids what their best game was. What were they thinking about? What were they feeling? What do they remember from that game? “Also, what was their worst game from their perspective? What were the triggers that made them lose confidence? For some who are big goal scorers it may be that they are not scoring. So Mark helps them with, OK, what other ways can you get involved? How do you flip that switch? When you can figure out what makes a kid tick that’s your route to helping them get back on track when they lose confidence.” Lost confidence can be a result of lost focus and it isn’t just Little League right fielders who struggle with that. It can be a problem for that football lineman in the fourth quarter just as it can be for a Division I ice hockey player. “It might be what they are thinking about between shifts,” Dartmouth women’s coach Mark Hudak offered. “Did you have a good shift or a bad shift and how are you going to react when you get back on the ice? Something we’ve worked on we refer to as the ABCs, the three or four things that if you do them well you know you have controlled what you can control in the shift. “If you come off the ice and know that you did those things well, then you aren’t thinking about the goal you didn’t score, or the other team did. You are focusing on what you did well. That’s one of the things we’ve worked on with Mark.” Hiatt, who played the usual variety of sports growing up in the Boston suburbs, was a psychology major at Vermont’s St. Michaels College. After working several other jobs after graduation he returned to school and earned his PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Virginia before doing his internship and a post-doc fellowship at Dartmouth Medical School. It was working with athletes on an individual basis in his role as a counselor at Dick’s House that started to pique a developing interest in sports psychology. Former Dartmouth softball coach Christine Voigt first tapped him to work with one of the college’s teams. Eager to expand his knowledge and be able to offer more help, he eventually engaged in regular phone meetings with a Toronto consulting group headed by Kate Hays, the prominent sports psychologist who runs The Performing Edge, a practice specializing in sports and performance psychology. Hiatt has since done graduate-level course work in various areas of sports psychology, performance enhancement and even kinesiology, something he found particularly useful.
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“Sports psychology has traditionally been part of kinesiology Hiat’s early involvement with women’s lacrosse centered and physical education,” he explained. “So it was helpful for me to around improving team chemistry, the approach to big games go back and get some of the academic foundations of kinesiology and visualization. Over the past year or more Patton has looked to and motor learning.” him to help develop leadership and to spend time with individual Hudak, who like Patton regularly makes use of Hiatt’s players on whatever they need to improve in their mental game. expertise, was first exposed to sports psychology when he was at He’s been meeting with the lacrosse seniors every week or two West Point and took a class with the sports psychologist who was and the other classes once a month. working with the Army football team. Helping athletes approach both games and practices with the “I was able to see first hand that, wow, this stuff really works,” right focus has been a point of emphasis for Hiatt this year. he said. “I think it’s been helpful to get our kids to understand “We use cognitive, emotional or energy activation strategies how important this can be, not just on the ice but in other parts of to help people get pumped up and focused when they need to their life as well.” be,” he said. “I’ve been integrating these approaches into practice In that vein, having Hiatt to lean on was extremely helpful for this year to help teams be really focused and committed during Patton last year when former lacrosse player Blaine Steinberg ’15 practice. With all the demands on the student-athletes’ time it’s died and one of her players lost a parent. important they make the most of the time they have. “I’m not sure we could have gotten through it without Mark,” “The idea is to be able to bring 100 percent of their focus and the coach said. “He was our rock. He is so calm and steady. Our attention to every drill when they walk into Boss Tennis Center or kids really trust him because he has such a good way about him.” onto the lacrosse field. There’s a tremendous benefit to that even Hudak has seen the same thing. outside of competition. Those are skills they will use on a day-in “Mark is just a really nice person and the kids figured that out and day-out basis.” very quickly,” the hockey coach said. Hiatt knows there will always “It was, OK, here’s a person that I be athletes, coaches and fans who can approach. question if sports psychology is a little “I trust Mark. It’s very easy for bit too new-age. He’s fine with that. The skills we use in sport and me to suggest to the players on our “Everybody has a different level team to think about talking to him of comfort with psychology,” he said. performance psychology can individually. I know some of the kids “Whether it’s clinical work or sports translate to a variety of areas of have, and I’m certain some have that psychology that’s OK. What I try to I don’t know of. As a coach it’s not do if I am working with a team is to performance. A student-athlete may just about the Xs and Os and what present it as, ‘Here are some strategies use the relaxation strategies we use it takes to be successful on the ice. or some approaches. We’ve got a lot of in preparing for a test or an interview” Essentially, we’re talking about life.” research evidence that shows this can While it is rewarding for Hiatt be helpful for athletes.’ to see an athlete who was struggling “But everyone’s different. One have competitive success and Dartmouth teams win, he takes person might find visualization really helps while someone else added satisfaction from knowing the value of what he’s teaching may really find more of a cognitive approach helpful. I try to be extends beyond the playing field. flexible and tailor the kinds of solutions that make the most sense “The skills we use in sport and performance psychology can for that particular athlete and what they respond to. Sometimes translate to a variety of areas of performance,” he said. “A studentpeople say it’s not for them That they are not comfortable with athlete may use the relaxation strategies we use in preparing for a it. That’s OK. I try to present it as just more tools to have in your test or an interview.” toolbox.” Hudak ratcheted up his team’s interaction with Hiatt during Hiatt’s interest in expanding his own toolbox was on full the fall, having the squad meet with him every other Tuesday display when he put himself through the women’s lacrosse for the first couple of months of the school year. While that summer running program. became impractical once the season began, he still had the sports “Let me tell you,” an impressed Patton said, “that’s no easy psychologist come by practice on occasion to get a sense about shakes. The reason he wanted to do it was, he wanted to feel what how the season was unfolding, and just as importantly, so his the kids were feeling. And he’s out there doing it in the heat of players could have casual interactions with him. summer. “In the early part of the year we talked with him about goal “He was so into it. He felt like if he did it he could understand setting and positive self-talk,” Hudak said. “We talked about the team better. Who does that? Who devotes themselves in that where the energy comes from, both emotionally and mentally. matter?” “We needed to recognize what we have to do to perform our Small wonder that Patton almost feels as if she ought to get best by looking at past performances when we worked well, and Hiatt his own whistle and a desk in the lacrosse offices. trying to re-create that environment so we could have have that “We feel very grateful and blessed to have him,” she said. “I feel peak performance over and over again. We talk a lot about focus like he’s part of our staff. That’s how I think of him.” and mental imagery.”
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