Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

W Club fosters athletic excellence

Whitman College is known across the nation as a school that attains excellence in the classroom. In the past five years, a group of Whitman alumni have joined together in an attempt to reciprocate that excellence with athletic competition.

The W Club is an athletic booster group made up of alumni, parents and staff members, led by a board of 19 members. This year alone, there is expected to be between 400 and 650 alumni participating in and supporting the W Club with its endeavors.

“[The alums and the W Club] want to ensure that our Whitman athletic classrooms are pursuing the same level of excellence as the other schools in the conference,” said Whitman Athletic Director Dean Snider. “They want to support the student-athletes themselves and establish a connection with [them].”

Since the W Club was founded, president and Whitman alum George Osborne ’66 has helped bring in a large contingent of support from other Whitman alums. There have been significant increases in budget for the Whitman athletic department coming strictly from the W Club, all of which is spread across the many athletic programs. The W Club has funded the addition of four full-time assistant coaches with one apiece in men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball and swimming.

“Having a full-time assistant . . . has helped the team tremendously,” said assistant swim coach Anthony Russo. “The team now has another set of eyes during practice to assist them in becoming better student-athletes.”

Just in the past year, a Whitman alumnus and member of the W Club financially established the first-ever athletics endowment, which is expected to grow in the coming years.

“[The endowment] will allow for increased equity across all sports, supporting all our programs and ensuring that the experience for all our student-athletes is equitable,” said Snider.

Two other growing attributes of the W Club are the flying program and tailgating. The flying program provides funds for teams to fly in top recruits to visit Whitman, which is expected to help build up recruiting nation-wide.

Arguably the most interactive part of the W Club between its members and the Whitman community is tailgating: the W Club puts on tailgates at multiple games each year, including soccer, basketball, swimming and tennis in the ’09-’10 season. According to Snider, many tailgates are put on at away contests to generate interest for alumni in other regions.

“It really generates enthusiasm for the student-athletes and the parents, doing an event for their kids and their programs,” he said.

Tailgating is something that everyone can participate in, from W Club members and alums to current Whitman students and their families, all the while supporting Whitman’s varsity athletic teams.

In addition to supporting the athletic endeavors of Whitman student-athletes, the W Club aims to expose them in the community to provide them with connections in the marketplace that can be taken advantage of after school. The W Club is truly a complementary process combining the quest for excellence in the classroom and on the field. Alumni have done career-networking panels for student-athletes, as well as students in general. This has also helped connect student-athletes and members of the athletic department to be more connected with the board of the W Club.

One of the keys to success for the W Club is the relationship between the athletic department and administration. The W Club looks to be an enduring force for excellence, and sustainability is one of the things that will be used to measure the success of the W Club. Year-to-year success on the field for Whitman athletics translates directly to success for the W Club.

“We want to build to the point where the W Club is a significant contributor to [our] athletic programs that are as competitive and recognized nationally the way the rest of our . . . programs are recognized: as outstanding programs around the country,” said Snider. “The W Club will be a long-term partner in establishing that reputation.

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