Free Fall? Not so. AD Feezell says Autumn sports doing fine

By Will Kennedy

The words ‘disappointment’ and ‘frustration’ became a mantra at the end of the fall season for several Macalester sports teams. With the exceptions of football and men’s soccer, every team finished worse in 2007 conference play than it had the previous year. The Mac Weekly sports section caught up with Athletic Director Travis Feezell this week to get his take on the big picture of sports at the college and to ask what, if anything, is wrong with the Scots. According to the AD, things aren’t as bad as they appear.

“If you see a team that doesn’t have a chance of winning and the players aren’t having a good time that’s a point of concern,” Feezell said. “I ask [myself] did the students have a meaningful experience, did they have an opportunity to win? And I think that they did.”

While players certainly gained something from their experiences, looking at the records, one may question just how competitive Macalester was in several sports. Volleyball failed to win a MIAC game, while men’s and women’s cross country finished eighth and men’s and women’s golf finished seventh at their respective conference meets, sliding in the league rankings after promising outcomes last year. Even men’s and women’s soccer had off years by their high standards with neither team qualifying for the conference championship.

Part of this far-reaching win shortage may have to do with the fact that this year represents a transition for Mac sports, as construction on a new field house has complicated practice times and schedules for many teams. “It’s been pretty clear in the fall that not having a home had an effect,” Fezell said, “but it wasn’t huge.”

Mainly, he added, the Scots just had some tough breaks and found themselves on the losing or lower end of contests that could have gone either way; although it didn’t win a MIAC match, volleyball, for example, found itself close in many contests, losing several down-to-the-wire games.

Losses are losses however, and many players certainly felt the pain of underachievement this season. But, Feezell said he believes that if all goes according to plan, the future is looking good for Mac athletics regardless of one bad year. What the college has called an “enhanced institutional commitment to athletics,” is slated to swing into full force by next year, as a new field house, a solidified group of athletic personnel and more organized recruitment promise to be a boon for Mac sports. “What we finally get is all of the pieces of the puzzle fitting together,” Feezell said. But what exactly does this mean for athletics?

Feezell is quick to assure that Macalester is not headed toward being a jock school. “It’s not that we have to have a reputation as an athletic powerhouse,” he said, “but that people will look at Macalester and say, ‘what a fantastic school, and hey they’re doing a pretty good job in athletics.'”

For Feezell then, getting a respected athletics program on a campus where not so long ago the mention of team sports was treated like a filthy joke would be the real accomplishment.

“To have people recognize Macalester Athletics as first rate,” he said, “that means we will have done something.