Campus hockey stereotype unjust

I am a junior here at Williams and a member of the men’s hockey team. While I speak as an individual student-athlete, more importantly, I speak on behalf of my teammates.

Our team has become a target of criticism due to incidents that occurred over the past few years. An incident last spring that has received a lot of attention appears to have solidified the tainted image many members of the community associate with our team.

To start, we would like to apologize to the Williams community for the aforementioned actions and for any or all discomfort created on campus. What happened was wrong and will surely never happen again. We would like to move on, but in doing so, we need the cooperation and open mind of a community that prides itself on “looking beyond the surface.”

Since arriving on campus, I have heard stories of other coaches and members of the community using our team as an example of “what not to do.” I meet people who, when informed I am a hockey player, look at me as if I am a guilty party. Living under such scrutiny is understandable, yet at the same time, wrong and unfair.

We would like you to recognize that much of the wrongdoing over the past three to four years was committed by ex-teammates who have since graduated. It is hard to move forward when we are scrutinized for behaviors and in which decisions we never partook. We fully understand the incidents we are responsible for, but please do not use events we are not accountable for as a means of stereotyping our team.

We feel many members of the community misinterpret our “close team” as exclusive, intimidating, and uninterested in anyone or anything on campus that falls outside of the hockey bubble. Like many other teams, our working towards a common goal has brought us together and created close bonds and friendships. This trend is seen all over campus, among athletes and non-athletes alike, yet somehow it carries a negative connotation when associated with a men’s contact sports team.

We also feel that the academic scrutiny placed against our team last spring did not give justice to our overall academic success. The occasional struggles in a certain class and the selection of an “easier” course have somehow become associated with our team more so than other groups on campus. This accusation is innately unfair, considering that the school is responsible for the courses offered. Also, students should not be discriminated for the courses they choose as long as they make a spirited effort to be fully engaged in the material. As a team, we pride ourselves on the notion of the “student-athlete;” otherwise we would not have been interested in attending Williams. The community seems to have ignored the majority of our team who have challenged themselves with some of the hardest classes in the school, and achieved commendable GPAs in the process.

In short, we are asking the members of this community for forgiveness, but at the same time, for a reassessment of who we are, and our contribution to the Williams community. Our intent is to start over and change the negative image that has become associated with our team.

We are going to do our best to facilitate this change, but we need the support of the entire Williams community, a community that was founded on the notion of open-mindedness, to make this change a reality.


Matt Goethals ’04

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