President Obama’s State of the Union address in January lasted an hour, but a few quick seconds of it could fundamentally transform the world and work of David Haussler ’75.
Competing on the world stage. Supporting elite athletes. Witnessing history in the making. From New London to London and back again, students, staff and alumni had an opportunity to put Connecticut College on the map at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
For Amanda Clark ’05, representing the United States was an incredible honor. “I couldn't ask for anything more,” said Clark. A two-time Olympian in sailing, Clark finished ninth with her partner Sarah Lihan. “I had only a year and a half to train with Sarah, who had never competed in the Olympics before,” said Clark. “It's been an incredible year to go from learning to sail together to winning the Olympic spot.”
In his blog, Bob Willis ’09, who competed in windsurfing, recounted his Olympic experiences. “For me, the most gratifying and memorable out-of-competition experiences were watching other Olympians compete in their respective events,” he wrote. “They were just as impressive as my own competition. I will cherish these memories forever.”
For Will Tucker ’14, the London Olympics was all about seeing home in a brand new light. A native of England studying government at Connecticut College, he found it fascinating to walk down the streets of his hometown and hear many different languages. “There was an electric atmosphere in the air that was hard to describe,” Tucker said. “I met people from all over the world and found common connections and values that united us.” Tucker volunteered his time as a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Eva Kovach, head coach of women’s rowing at Connecticut College, volunteered for the Control Commission at the rowing venue – her ticket into the Games. “The rowing venue was sold out each day and the racing was fantastic as the medal finals were rowed out,” she said. “Overall, it was a humbling experience working in close proximity to the Olympians.”
Coach William Wuyke, a two-time Olympian in the 800 meters, serves on the World Olympian Association (WOA) committee. At the London Games, the committee was responsible for hosting the first-ever non-royalty event at St. James Palace, home of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
Wuyke extended a special invitation to the event to alumnus Dwayne Stallings ’99. For Stallings, the highlight of the evening was a conversation with Princess Anne, sister of Prince Charles and daughter of Queen Elizabeth II. “We talked about our children, my sports career and how I came to work in the financial industry,” Stallings said.
Beyond the allure of festivities and competition, the Olympics signify so much more to the global community. “The Olympic games are based on mutual respect, fair play and being a citizen that shares these values,” said alumna Anita DeFrantz ’74, who medaled in the 1976 Summer Olympics in rowing and currently serves on the International Olympic Committee.
For DeFrantz, the Olympics also represented a very personal moment – the opportunity to witness Mariel Zaguinis, daughter of her lifelong friend and fellow Olympian Catherine Zaguinis ’74 serve as flagbearer for the U.S. Olympic Team. DeFrantz and Zaguinis competed in the national rowing championships during their senior year at Connecticut College. They both attended the University of Pennsylvania as graduate students and were selected to join the Philadelphia Vesper Boat Club, a training facility for Olympic champions. “To see my own daughter represent America as best all-around U.S. athlete in the Parade of Nations at this of all Olympic Games – I couldn't be prouder," Zaguinis said.