Tuesday, October 20, 2009

'Athey's Field': Washington College's Sports History Comes Alive In New Book

Chestertown – The long and colorful history of athletics at Washington College, from the earliest baseball teams fielded in the 19th century to the multi-faceted program of the present day, is chronicled in the new book Athey’s Field, published by the Literary House Press.

Edited by Justine Hendricks ’07, a writer on the Office of College Relations staff,  John Lang, lecturer in the Department of English, and Director of Communications Marcia Landskroener M’02, Athey’s Field contains a series of essays depicting the different eras, teams and characters that comprise the saga of Washington College sports. Included are portrayals of the figures – such as legendary coach Tom Kibler and Major Leaguer Bill “Swish” Nicholson – whose guidance and talent helped mold the school’s athletic program through the years.

Athey’s Field, as its title suggests, is dedicated to Edward L. Athey, a beloved coach and administrator at Washington College for nearly 50 years. The book has been produced in concert with the dedication, construction and recent opening of the College’s Athey Baseball Park.

Athey himself laid the groundwork for the book; its origins were in a comprehensive research project undertaken by Athey and others that yielded a treasure trove of Washington College sports history, much of which has found its way into the newly published work.

Athey, described in the book’s foreword as “the man who embodied Washington College Athletics for the entire second half of the 20th century,” enjoyed an illustrious 47-year career at the school. In addition to serving as Athletic Director for 39 years, he coached basketball for 13 years, was head baseball coach for 28 years, and distinguished himself as a soccer coach for 31 years. At various times he also coached track, tennis, cross country and junior varsity lacrosse.

In all, Athey amassed 690 varsity coaching victories at Washington College; he is the only coach in the College’s history with at least 600 wins at the school. He was inducted into the Washington College Hall of Fame in 1982, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.

A key figure in the College’s athletics history, Athey also happens to be a devoted enthusiast of that history – he long has been considered a walking encyclopedia of Washington College sports facts, figures, obscure trivia and fond memories.

Several years ago, Athey, H. Hurtt Derringer ’59 and Charles B. Clark ’34 undertook the monumental task of researching and documenting the history of Washington College athletics. Old narratives were gathered, later entries were added, and a manuscript totaling more than 400 pages eventually grew out of the project; it is from this archive that the newly published Athey’s Field originally took shape. Essays from yesteryear have been interwoven with chapters contributed by present-day scribes to form a compendium that spans the decades.

Illustrated with vintage photographs and brimming with the lore of glory days, legendary players and championship seasons, Athey’s Field is available for $14.95. For ordering information, visit http://lithouse.washcoll.edu/literaryhousepress.php.

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