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Hoops team that went to the Final Four in 1999 is inducted into Hall of Fame

The newest members of the Athletic Hall of Fame pose for a photo.
The newest members of the Athletic Hall of Fame pose for a photo.

Elizabeth Ashforth Bacon '78 still relishes the days she spent as a student recruiting the College's first women lacrosse players.

She wasn't picky. "We'd pick anyone off the street, anyone with any experience whatsoever," Bacon said. And women's activism played a big role. "It was great for team bonding."

On Oct. 15, Bacon was one of a new group of athletes and coaches to be honored for their outstanding contributions to Connecticut College athletics with induction into the Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame.

The newest members are:
-- Tracy Hayley Smith '97 (sailing)
-- Douglas Roberts, men's ice hockey coach from 1979 to 2003
-- The 1998-99 men's basketball team
-- Bacon, whose sports were lacrosse, field hockey and basketball

The induction of the entire 1998-99 team is unusual, but their record is extraordinary. Under the direction of head coach Glen Miller, the Camels were undefeated during the regular season and had a number one national ranking as they advanced to the NCAA Final Four. They dropped a heartbreaking decision in the semifinals but won a consolation game to close the season with a national third-place finish, the furthest advancement of any Connecticut College team in NCAA play.

Families, friends and past teammates took part in the festivities. Much of the talk centered on team spirit.

The master of ceremonies, Francis J. Shields, the Katherine Wenk Christoffers '45 Director of Athletics, described how the inductees, finding themselves back on the College's familiar ground, were now "coming full circle" in their journey.

They had travelled from their successful College careers to successful lives, and had now returned to their undergraduate institution to be recognized.

The honorees took center stage for a brief reading of their athletic accomplishments in College and beyond, as well as to assist in the unveiling of their personalized plaques.

After the ceremony and throughout the dinner that followed, the honorees reminisced about their experiences in college. Roberts said he came and left the College at good times and enjoyed his years with the Camels. "Today," he said, "is my first time back. And it's good to be back."

Bacon, who heavily influenced the creation of the women's lacrosse program in the mid-1970s, said that she felt extremely honored to be acknowledged by her alma mater. But she emphasized that she didn't found the lacrosse team on her own. "Everyone played a part," she said.

Champion skipper Smith echoed similar feelings of a unified team spirit, saying that she, too, was honored that her teammates came out for her induction. When Roberts recalled his days as coach, feelings of a tight-knit family both on and off the ice rose to the surface.

The evening's closing remarks brought the official "coming of the circle" journey to a close for the now-inducted Hall-of-Famers. One lesson of the night remained clear, Shields said: from encouraging inexperienced players to pick up the ball to forming team bonds as close as familial ties to indicting four new talented athletic legends this year alone, athletics at Connecticut College are growing. And the bonds created by the programs are stronger than ever.

More about the inductees.

-- Jordan Thomas '15

November 14, 2011