Deerfield Magazine

A Conversation With Olympian Molly Schaus ’06

March 31, 2017

Originally published in the Winter 2017 issue of Deerfield Magazine by Julia Elliott

Two-time Olympian Molly Schaus, who was drafted second overall by the Boston Blades in the 2011 Canadian Women’s Hockey League Draft, just may have spent more time on the ice than off over the past 25 years. In 2015 she hung up her skates for good . . . more or less. She and Deerfield Magazine’s Julia Elliott recently spoke about the lasting influence of her time at Deerfield, her Olympic experiences, and what her retirement from hockey actually looks like these days.

DM: Tell me about your time at Deerfield; what were some of your best and most formative experiences?

MS: I found myself at Deerfield in the fall of 2003. I had just moved from Chicago and never expected to go to Deerfield or any prep school. It just so happened my family moved out East, and with family circumstances and the reputation that Deerfield had, I was just very fortunate to get in and to have the opportunity to go. I didn’t know what to expect. I’ll never forget moving into Pocumtuck—and being just 15 years old and saying, “Here we go!”

That first year I ran cross-country in the fall, which was good—running wasn’t my favorite thing but I was injured from hockey, so that was the only sport I was allowed to do. Once hockey started that winter I found my niche; hockey was my passion and the thing I was most confident about in a new setting. Hockey was my way to really connect and feel like I knew who I was on the ice and off the ice.

DM: When did you start playing hockey? How did you grow to love it?

MS:  I’m stereotypical—grew up in Minnesota with a pond in my backyard. I learned to skate when I learned to walk; I have two older brothers that I was always trying to keep up with. The middle one in particular, Michael, is two-and-a-half years older and he played hockey. The older I got, I always wanted to tag along with him and his friends—and he wasn’t a big fan of that. But he said if I played goalie, he’d let me do it. So I jumped at that and around second or third grade my parents finally let me go and learn to play hockey. Then, in fourth grade, I joined a girls’ team as a goalie and never looked back.

DM: You clearly showed a lot of dedication and talent, but in terms of mentors and people who had influence on you when you were a kid—who were they?

MS: My brother was a huge influence on me; we spent every summer day out in the driveway or the cul-de-sac playing street hockey. And that’s where I was allowed to fall in love with the game and try new things and get better without coaches or refs or parents—just free play.

My life changed watching the 1998 Olympics over in Nagano, Japan. It was the first time women’s hockey was included, so I was pretty giddy about that. My parents taped the gold medal game for me because it was in the middle of the night with the time change. I woke up—it was a Thursday morning—and I got to go into school a little late because I watched them win the first-ever gold medal over Canada. I walked into class—and my friends won’t let me forget it—and I said, “I want to do that someday.”

The captain of that team actually lived one town over, so I wrote her a letter inviting her to come speak at an anti-drug rally at my school and she said “Yes.” I got to meet her, introduce her in front of the whole school, wear her gold medal… That opened my eyes to an Olympic dream: It’s not just playing for fun. Obviously, it’s always fun, but there’s an opportunity to do more.

DM: That’s so cool. So after Deerfield you went to Boston College and had a successful career there. Can you tell me a little bit about the highlights of it?

MS: There were a couple of classes ahead of me who really turned Boston College into the Division I powerhouse that it is today. I was fortunate—in my class there’s seven of us who are all very talented, good players—to kind of join that team that was already trending in the right direction. I really wanted, as a goalie, to join a team that I could make a difference on right away.

I would say two of my favorite games in my life happened freshman year of college. At the Bean Pot Tournament… Every February the four Boston schools play in a tournament the first Tuesday and second Tuesday of February. So it’s Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, and Harvard. It’s just bragging rights—you get be the best team in Boston that year and there’s a lot of history and tradition with the tournament on both the men’s and women’s side. My freshman year we were the underdog against Harvard, who had a couple of Olympic players. They were doing well that year and we had to play them in the first round at home at 8:00 pm. Somehow we found ourselves tied three to three going into overtime; I was playing pretty well. Our team was playing very, very well and we ended up winning that game in triple overtime; at about 1:00 am we scored to upset them and it broke the saves record at the time. I made 73 saves—I believe—something like that. And I think the other goalie had 50 or 60 . . . It was a very long game.

DM: So it was about five hours long?

MS: Yes—it was almost two complete games that night. I think we were five minutes away from a fourth overtime. My oldest brother—he was a huge supporter of mine but not a huge hockey guy—he was there because he lived in Boston. I remember looking up at him in like the second overtime and he just tapped his watch as if to say, “Hey, finish this. I need to go to bed.” So that’s definitely one of my favorite games.

DM: You also played for the US Women’s National team…?

MS: So, the Women’s National Team—for eight months leading up to the Olympics, we would live and train together in residency. The other years you were able to play college hockey or professional hockey and train on your own. Then we had about three or four camps a year we’d go to. I actually first made the National team when I was a sophomore in college; every spring I took a month off to go compete at the World Championships. I also took a leave of absence from BC during what would have been my senior year to live in Minnesota and train for the 2010 games in Vancouver. I ended up graduating a year late because of the first Olympics; I came back and re-enrolled with one of my teammates, so it was nice; we got to play another year of college hockey.

DM: What it’s like to compete in the Olympics?

MS: It’s pretty hard to put into words, to be honest. Sometimes you dream of something and in the end it’s not as great as you thought it would be . . . it wasn’t like that—it was everything that I wished it would be—except for not winning the gold medal. I remember talking to some of the veterans before the first Olympics I went to and they said, “It’s exactly like the World Championships, except not at all. The hockey part is the same but everything else going on around you is so different and so unique and so emotional and powerful.” It truly is remarkable. I think it finally hit me walking in the opening ceremonies, when we were no longer part of USA Hockey and the twenty of us; we were part of Team USA and the 300 of us representing 300 million. It was that moment when it hit me how big it was, how unique it was, and what a dream come true to walk in the opening ceremonies for the first time! My parents were in the stands and that made it all real. I think that was the moment like, “Wow. This is happening.”

And then obviously playing in that first game was pretty memorable . . . I’ve been playing hockey since I was little, and every rink feels the same or the game is the same—you’re trying to score more goals than the other teams—but all of a sudden you look up and the Olympic rings are hanging everywhere and US flags are waving . . . There’s just such a different atmosphere and a different level of excitement that you could definitely feel.

DM: How did you do during that first Olympics?

MS:  In Vancouver we made it to the gold medal game and we lost to Canada—two to nothing—in Canada, in front of 19,000 Canadian fans. That made it harder but it was pretty neat to see that many people passionate about women’s hockey and to have that much energy in the arena.

DM: Then you played in Sochi, Russia. What was that experience like?

MS: It was fun kind of knowing what to expect in some ways; we went more with a purpose of winning. I think we were a very young team in Vancouver—we got a little caught up in the excitement and all the things you get to do at the Olympics. In Sochi we said, “All right. We’ve been here. We’ve done that. Let’s treat it like a hockey tournament and let’s win.” We didn’t actually walk in the opening ceremonies because we had a game at noon the next day, so that would have been tough; we chose to rest up and watch the opening ceremonies on TV.

DM: And you took the silver again, losing to Canada.

MS: We did.

DM: That’s so frustrating! Tell me about that game.

MS: We had won a lot of world championships, but they had won the Olympics ever since 2002; we felt good about where we were coming in—we had been playing them well. We had won four games to three leading up in the pre-Olympic tour, and we were actually winning two to nothing with three-and-a-half minutes left in that game. Then they got a fluky goal, and then they pulled the goalie and scored with like 57 seconds left, and then we lost in overtime. We were less than a minute away from winning. When we got off the ice, the gold medals were right there ready to come out. So that one hurt in a completely different way than Vancouver, that’s for sure.

DM: What else do you remember most about the Olympics?

MS: The Olympic Village itself is pretty incredible. Every athlete stays there, so you go into the dining hall and you’re in line and you see people wearing their gear from China, Russia, Switzerland, Finland, Australia, Mexico, Chile—you name it—every single country. And you just look around and you know you’re with the best athletes in the world. And just being in that dining hall with some of the NHL players that you look up to and watch on TV, and they’re sitting at the table next to you, so that was pretty incredible.

Also watching the other sports; we went to the hockey games, obviously, to cheer on the USA. But even if you watched from your apartment in the Village, then you’d go to the dining hall and see those athletes you were just watching on TV. And then if you went downtown, the whole city was celebrating the Olympics.

The veterans said, ‘Soak it all up the first couple of days and then focus.’ You don’t want to shut it out completely—you want to appreciate the moment you’re in—but there’s time for that and then there’s the time to go and compete, because that’s why you’re there.

DM: What sparked your decision to retire?

MS: Sochi was a devastating loss. A lot of us took time away and said, ‘I can’t do that again. I can’t put four years of effort into this to come up short.’ But about six months later, I was talking to my teammates we kind of said, ‘Let’s do it again!’ But I also knew I had to do something else to help prepare me for the next step in my life; if I just did hockey for four more years that wouldn’t really be setting me up for success when I was done.

I took a job with a non-profit that I had been volunteering at while I was training in Boston—Cradles to Crayons in Brighton, MA. I worked there three or four days a week and then trained on my own; I didn’t play on the professional team. I worked with a goalie coach. I went to camps. And kind of, in a way, did a little bit of each just to keep balance and see what worked.

Sometime in January that year, it was about 5:00 am, and I was at the gym doing our lift. It was snowing out. Every now and then I’d ask myself: ‘Should I keep doing this?’ And the answer was always ‘Yes,’ and it just felt wrong to be done. But for some reason that morning I thought, ‘I don’t really want to do this anymore.’ And it felt okay to say that finally—I felt at peace with it.

I did keep training. I finished out that year. I went to the World Championships—in the back of my mind thinking that this might be it. Soak it up. Enjoy being with your teammates, do what you can to help the team. Fortunately, we won but I still felt the same way. I also really enjoyed my job with the non-profit; I really enjoyed the balance I had with my friends and family and I felt I had lived the dream for eight years, and if I wasn’t willing to commit 100 percent to my teammates and to the process it wasn’t fair to be there anymore. So, I made the call in April of 2015.

DM: Tell me about what you’re doing now.

MS: I had the opportunity to be an athlete role model at the Youth Olympic Games last year. I represented hockey in Lillehammer, Norway, for two-and-a-half weeks and was involved with the USOC, (US Olympic Committee) and the International Olympic Committee, and I absolutely loved it. I think there’s nothing better than the power of sport to bring people together, and build confidence, and educate, and all those important values. So when I got back from Norway, I called a former teammate from BC, who works for USA Hockey, and kind of picked her brain on, you know, I want to do something with sport and education; I want to be involved with hockey but do more than just being on the ice coaching every day.

So she said, “Let me think about it. I know there’s some internships.” The next day she got back to me and said, “I found the perfect fit for you, but it’s in California.” I was like, “I don’t know. That’s pretty far.” But I started reading about this program that the Anaheim Ducks sponsor called Ducks S.C.O.R.E.— Scholastic Curriculum on Recreation and Education. It’s basically what I told her I wanted to do, and that’s using hockey to promote academic excellence, physical fitness, and to grow the love of the game.

I moved to California about nine months ago and I’ve been loving it. Every day I’m doing something different: I’m out in the community talking to students, talking to teachers, writing curriculum, hosting events, and getting to spread the excitement for hockey. It’s pretty incredible to call it a job. And getting to work in the NHL is pretty fun—I get to watch a lot of hockey. I could never turn that down.

DM: Tell me about the kids you work with.

MS: It’s primarily elementary school students, fourth and fifth graders, but also a little bit younger. We host a huge street hockey tournament at the Honda Center and those are coed teams, so 16 boys and girls per school, and we’ll get about 24 to 28 schools out here for a tournament. And we do a STEM-based program on the science of hockey; this year we’re talking about the science of ice and thermodynamics and states of matter and friction.

We partner with 57 schools right now and we provide all the street hockey equipment they need and the curriculum. So if it’s a public school that doesn’t have a PE teacher, we’ll send out our staff to do five days of lessons. If they have a teacher, then we give them the curriculum and the teacher does a unit on street hockey, so all fourth graders will play street hockey and have the opportunity to play in the tournament. In fifth grade we do an inline program.

One of the biggest barriers to playing hockey is expense and ice time. And so we try to remove both of those things by doing street hockey and inline hockey. All you need is a stick and a ball. Anybody can play. Boys and girls love it. Teachers can teach it because they don’t have to teach kids to skate. We try to make it as easy, fun, and safe for the schools as possible.

DM: I’m sure you’re aware that Deerfield has plans to build a new athletics complex that will include a new hockey rink. How do you think that will influence the program?

MS: I think any kid who walks on campus—if they haven’t already fallen in love with it—will see a brand new rink and facilities and you know, it’s an easy sell. I came back, maybe for my Fifth Reunion, and I remember seeing the weight room completely transitioned. I was like, “Holy cow, what a difference a couple of years makes!” To keep updating and staying with the times is a huge recruiting tool. Obviously that old rink—I loved it and I’m glad I got to play there, but I think if you’re a kid and you see a brand-new rink and you see the Main School Building and the science center—I don’t know how you don’t go to Deerfield.

DM: You’ve gotten to a place where you have an awesome job. It sounds really fulfilling. How do you feel your career as an athlete—at Deerfield and beyond— prepared you for where you are now?

MS: I think maybe it started when I was a kid, but Deerfield, especially, and BC and the US team—they really focus on team first. Do your role. Be a good teammate. Take responsibility. Help each other out. And I think that’s carried me a long way. In our department at work, we’re all there to help each other. We genuinely believe in what we’re doing and we genuinely like each other, and that makes work at any career a lot easier and a lot more fun to show up for in the morning. I can relate it back to Deerfield as being part of something bigger than yourself. Walking onto campus—you know growing up in suburban Minneapolis and Chicago—it was my first time really meeting people from around the world and having conversations that I never thought of before; having teachers push me in different directionsthat definitely shaped a lot of my views and beliefs.

And then with the US team, you know, we were part of something bigger. Yes, we were trying to win a gold medal, but we were also representing the US or we were representing every kid who dreams of being there. With my job now, we’re at an elementary school level, but we’re representing the Ducks. We’re representing hockey, the NHL, academics, STEM . . . It keeps you humble—knowing that there’s always something bigger out there that you’re trying to accomplish.

DM: Is there anything I haven’t touched on that you want to mention?

MS: Well, I’m not completely done with USA Hockey. I recently accepted a position coaching their Under-18 national team as a goalie coach. I’m going to their World Championships in the Czech Republic. Thankfully, my boss is supportive and understands the opportunity and the honor. It’s a way to give back. It’s easy to say I’ve moved on, but to stay involved, I think, is really exciting. I’m looking forward to talking to those girls and getting on the ice with the team again—kind of relive those glory days a little bit—but also get to be one of those veteran leaders and share what I’ve learned.


Game On: Graham Harden ’87

March 31, 2017

Originally published in the Winter 2017 issue of Deerfield Magazine by Sarah Zobel

In August, Graham Harden received a diagnosis that’s not for the faint of heart: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). But after a few days of grieving, the Cincinnati resident and former first-team All American lacrosse defenseman was able to embrace it as his Plan B.

“Adversity is just an opportunity disguised as a setback,” says Harden. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. As it progresses, it weakens the nerves that control muscles throughout the body, eventually rendering them nonfunctioning. Over time, people with ALS become unable to control their limbs, and ultimately lose their ability to speak, eat, and breathe. There is no cure—the average lifespan from the time of diagnosis is two to five years, though Stephen Hawking has famously lived with the disease for over half a century. The only FDA-approved treatment extends life six months at most, and brings with it a host of side effects.

“When you’re diagnosed with ALS, you get the same look from everyone,” says Harden, in contrast to a cancer diagnosis, which elicits questions about treatment and prognosis. “When they think of ALS, most people think of the end.”

Harden was a tri-helmet (lacrosse, football, hockey) captain during his three years at Deerfield. He was so committed to lacrosse that he purportedly woke up his sleeping roommate, Michael Sotirhos ’87, in the middle of the night to try out a ball-stripping move he’d just thought up. (It proved successful in stripping not only the ball, but the opponent’s stick as well, and Harden used it to full advantage on the field.)

At UNC-Chapel Hill, Harden won the Schmeisser Cup as the National Defenseman of the Year and was named ACC Player of the Year in 1991 while helping lead his team to the NCAA Division I national championship. Last year he was inducted into the Connecticut Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He was gifted—a modestly sized player who used speed and stick-handling skills to his advantage in a position that typically relies on size. He was also careful to leave his ego off the field—“For someone who is so accomplished, so capable, he’s very humble,” says former teammate Josh Huffard ’87—though occasionally his confidence shone through, as when he schooled an opponent who trash talked him by stripping the ball from him during a game and then rolling it back, as though offering him a do-over. So it’s perhaps not surprising that he uses sports analogies in discussing his ALS diagnosis.

“It’s like when you’re in a game and the other team scores a goal. Then what? What do you do from there? Do you prevent them from scoring again? Do you go out and get more aggressive?” he says. “How you react to that adversity is how you live your life. When you get a diagnosis that’s pretty ugly, it’s easy to go south and say, ‘Woe is me,’” he says, pausing with a laugh to correct his grammar: “‘Woe is I.’ It’s how you function. If you see it as bad, it’s going to be bad. But if I can—on some level—help one more person down the road, then this hasn’t been a bad thing.”

It’s a level of resolve his Deerfield classmates say is not new. Sotirhos, Harden’s one-time roommate, mentions his “quiet determination;” whether competing in a championship game, warming up in practice, or wrestling a friend in the dorm, “he’d give it 110 percent.” Peter Fearey ’87, who, along with Harden, was one of three sophomores named to the varsity lacrosse team, says Harden was not fazed by the locker-room taunts of their upperclass teammates.

“He’d say, ‘Oh, really? I can’t wait for practice.’ He had the confidence and he backed it up every time,” says Fearey, calling his teammate Deerfield’s first modern defenseman. “Historically, the game was a bunch of guys who were physical. [Harden’s] position was about hitting guys and body placement, but Graham was so fast with his hand-eye coordination that he could trick people with the stick, and it didn’t need to be physical.”

Since 1991, Harden has devoted countless hours to coaching lacrosse at levels from college (he served as UNC’s defensive coordinator for a period) down to youth programs, even before his own children—Kendall, 21, Lindsey, 18, and Cole, 16—were old enough to hold sticks. He played a significant role in the explosion of interest in the sport in the greater Cincinnati area, helping to develop the Cincy Royals youth program as a program director and coach.

This spring, the Deerfield Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team will dedicate its season to Harden as both a tribute to his time on the field at the Academy and to raise awareness about ALS.

Off the field, Harden, who has volunteered as a firefighter and a first responder, is focused on getting a couple of startups off the ground: a medical device and a youth sports–oriented mobile app. Inspired by a handful of professional athletes with ALS—Steve Gleason, O.J. Brigance, and Pete Frates—as well as Paralympian and classmate Chris Waddell ’87 and Mount St. Joseph basketball player Lauren Hill, who died of a rare brain cancer in 2015, he is using his unsolicited moment in the health spotlight to bring attention to ALS. Although there are some 5000 to 6000 new diagnoses in the United States annually, those numbers barely register in comparison to cancer, and as a result, ALS doesn’t receive the kind of research dollars cancer and other major diseases do. Harden gets the math, but he’s understandably frustrated. Though he can’t necessarily effect change in the scientific community, he hopes to establish an organization that helps children who are indirectly impacted by the so-called “tangle diseases,” including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS. Where well-meaning donors might give to help just the children of one person with a tangle disease, he’d like to see a more communal effort, and is working to establish an organization that helps such kids locate scholarship money to help pay for education.

He’ll have his own expenses to think about. Most insurers don’t cover the costs of the tools that are indispensable to ALS patients, including ventilators and communication technology, or the in-home nursing care that is needed in the disease’s later stages. With annual out-of-pocket care expenses eventually hovering close to $300,000 a year, ALS patients face financial challenges that mirror the physical. But in what Harden, who counts It’s a Wonderful Life among his favorite movies, calls his “George Bailey moment,” many whose lives he has touched have eagerly jumped in to help. A group of locals retrofitted the Hardens’ home, installing a downstairs bathroom and bedroom, with 100 percent of the labor and materials donated. Others are offering to cover the cost of trips and other memory-building adventures for Harden and his wife, Dawn, and their children. His sister Shea and brothers Boyd and Holmes—together with support from Harden’s lacrosse and academic communities (New Canaan High School, Deerfield, UNC [including Kenan-Flagler Business School], Connecticut, and Cincinnati)—an extensive group that is known collectively as “GForce”—are raising money to help cover expenses through a YouCaring page and an assortment of events that to date have included movie screenings, online raffles, and a bocce ball tournament. Ever the competitor, Harden himself is responsible for the GForce tagline: “Game on, ALS!”

The GForce page:

The Hall of Famer: Craig Janney ’85

March 31, 2017

Originally published in the Winter 2017 issue of Deerfield Magazine by Bob York

Jim Lindsay ’70 can now tell his grandchildren, or anyone else for that matter, that he skated on the same line as a hall of famer. The former Deerfield hockey coach might not mention the fact that these ice capades were limited to practice, however.

Lindsay, Big Green varsity hockey head coach from 1988 to 2003, was an assistant under Jay Morsman ’55 during the 1984-85 season when one of the players on that team was a post-graduate from Enfield, CT, named Craig Janney. Despite having helped lead Enfield High School to back-to-back state championships, Janney’s arrival at Deerfield went pretty much unheralded—until hockey season.

“It only took about two or three shifts into our first practice to realize we had something really special in Craig Janney,” says Lindsay. And by the time Janney had led a 16-0 rout of Vermont Academy in the Big Green’s season opener with a six-goal performance, “everyone else in New England began to take notice that we had something special, too.”

Following a 16-6-1 season in which Janney led Deerfield in scoring with 68 points on 33 goals and 35 assists, he secured his spot as arguably the best hockey player in school history. His one season at the Academy also helped catapult him to the heights of hockey on the collegiate, international, and professional levels. For those achievements, Janney was enshrined in the United States Hockey Hall of Fame this past December as a part of its Class of 2016.

“Craig had outstanding hockey sense . . . an ability to anticipate where everyone was on the ice and get them the puck,” says Morsman. “Sometimes you’d watch him and swear that he had eyes in the back of his head after watching some of the passes he’d make.”

Lindsay, meanwhile, admits to becoming so fascinated by watching Janney’s maneuverings that whenever one of Janney’s line mates missed practice, “I’d go out and skate on his line. It was fun . . . his ability to pass the puck really kept you on your toes.”

One of those line mates was team Captain Brian Jurek ’85, who credits Janney as being “one of those elite athletes who made everyone around him better,” and that obviously included Jurek, who quite possibly produced the best statistical year of his entire hockey career that winter with 50 points on 25 goals and 25 assists.

“Craig was the most amazing player I’ve ever seen when he had the puck on his stick,” says Jurek, a member of the 1984 Big Green squad that captured the New England prep school crown. “Next to Wayne Gretzky, I don’t think there’s anyone who has had better puck control and passing ability in the game of hockey. Opponents would double and triple-team him in the corners, yet they’d rarely get the puck away from him.

“Our game plan was simple that season,” continues Jurek, “get the puck to Janney in the neutral zone and then head for the goal. That’s where Coach Lindsay was constantly reminding us to keep our heads up, because when you least expected it, you’d find the puck on your stick.”


“I just considered myself a playmaker who was privileged to always have some outstanding scorers around me,” says a modest Janney, who was selected by the Boston Bruins with the 13th overall pick in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft. “It was my job to put the puck on a teammate’s stick and I use to tell them ‘just keep your stick on the ice and I’ll find it.’” 

Janney also made a habit of finding teammates’ sticks during his 12 years in the NHL, where he amassed nearly a point-per-game average, posting 751 points on 188 goals and 563 assists over 760 games. As for American-born skaters, Janney ranks first in career assists per game (0.741) and fourth in points per game (0.988). Overall, his 563 assists rank 11th in NHL annals.

On the collegiate level, Janney played only two seasons at Boston College before heading off to the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, but while at BC he set Hockey East single-season records for points (81) and assists (55). Internationally, Janney represented the United States on six occasions and produced 26 points on 15 goals and 11 assists while wearing a Team USA jersey.

“It was a wonderful honor,” says Janney of his Hall induction. “It came as a complete surprise . . . I thought my time had passed me by. It was particularly sweet to be inducted along with the ’96 World Cup Team because I have a number of good friends on it.”

And although Janney may have thought his induction time had passed, once elected, he still had to wait a little longer to find out if he was indeed in: “The committee didn’t have my correct phone number at first,” he explains. “They said they called me three times but received no response. So,” he quips, “I guess there’s somebody out there somewhere with three messages telling them they’re in the US Hockey Hall of Fame . . . I hope they saved them.”

Janney says that Deerfield will always hold a special spot in his heart, “I can’t believe how much I benefited—scholastically and athletically—having spent just one year there,” says Janney. “As for hockey, it was the last time in my career that I played for fun. After Deerfield, hockey became more of a business than a game.”

One of Janney’s closest friends at Deerfield was classmate Mike Mullowney. The two played hockey together at the Academy and Boston College, where they were roommates. Mullowney, a post-graduate defenseman, who was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in 1985, had already committed to BC before arriving in Western MA.

“I remember right after I got to Deerfield, I got a call from BC assistant Coach Steve Cedorchuk,” says Mullowney. “He asked me to look up Craig Janney, saying he was ‘the best player in the United States.’ I’d just started football, so I began looking for him at practice,” adds Mullowney. “Turns out he played soccer, so that evening, I figured I’d find him in the Dining Hall. I went over to where the soccer players were sitting and asked if someone could point out Craig Janney . . . and they did.

“I see this scrawny, 150-pound guy and I said to myself, ‘There’s no way this guy’s the best hockey player in the United States.’ I called Cedorchuk back that night and told him, ‘You got the wrong guy!’ He said, ‘Nope, I got the right guy.’”

He sure did.

Behind the Bench: Tim McVaugh—Varsity Hockey

March 31, 2017

From the Winter 2017 issue of Deerfield Magazine by Bob York

Excitement . . . Humility . . . Good fortune,” were the feelings Tim McVaugh remembers kicking in last spring when a Deerfield Academy search committee informed him that he was the last man standing in its quest to find the school’s next boys varsity hockey coach.

There must’ve been a sense of accomplishment as well. After all, for anyone who has ever joined the coaching club, the opportunity to become a head coach is a dream come true. For McVaugh, who spent the past seven years as an assistant coach, whose day job at Deerfield entails teaching US History and Global Environmental History, and whose nights are spent as a faculty resident in Johnson-Doubleday, a bit of anxiety still managed to mix with all the excitement. “I just hope when the Deerfield community thinks of me, it thinks of me as more than just being about hockey,” McVaugh says.

Well, no worries there, Tim. Deerfield’s search committee held McVaugh’s numerous contributions to the school in high esteem during their consultations, and in the end, they played an important role in making him a finalist for the position.

“Tim’s the consummate school person,” said Dean of Faculty John Taylor, who served on the search committee. “He’s always been willing to go the extra mile, whether it be in the classroom, the dorm or the hockey rink. He loves Deerfield Academy, he loves the kids, and he always wants what’s best for the school and its student-athletes.

“The only thing that gave us pause was that Tim lacked experience as a head coach, but he was a very strong candidate nonetheless, and we felt he deserved a shot at the job,” added Taylor. “He’s a confident and competitive young man with a great deal of youthful vitality who wants to be successful. He wanted an opportunity to prove himself and had a detailed plan to improve the program and attract more talent. He made it an easy decision for us.”

McVaugh’s philosophy on building a successful program is “in order to get better collectively, you have to get better individually, and by that I mean you need to get to know your players on a one-on-one basis . . . learn what makes them tick . . . learn how to get the most out of every one of them.

“Brendan had a great way of assessing the kids individually . . . what their strong points were and what they need to work on” added McVaugh of former head coach Brendan Creagh, who stepped down last spring after joining the Big Green hockey staff in 1997. “And I’m planning on going about our practices the same way.”

McVaugh did admit, though, that getting to know his players this year hasn’t been as time consuming as in previous seasons.   

“We have a great group of 12 seniors,” said McVaugh, “so heading in, we already had a good idea as to what their strengths and weaknesses were.

“Plus,” he added, “with that many seniors on the team, we’ll have plenty of experience and leadership, and as a coaching staff, that should make our jobs a lot easier.”   

Prior to moving behind the Deerfield bench, McVaugh enjoyed an outstanding four-year career at Bowdoin College. As a senior captain he wrapped up his final campaign by leading the Polar Bears in scoring with 22 points on nine goals and 13 assists and was later voted the team’s Most Valuable Player. Overall, McVaugh, a 6’3”, 225-pounder, was a versatile enough skater to play both forward and defense.

“We often played a system at Bowdoin that featured two forwards and three defensemen,” explained McVaugh, who played a year of professional hockey in Germany before coming to Deerfield, “and under such a system, I was allowed to become a very offensive-minded defenseman and often moved up to became a third forward much of the time.”

It might sound a bit awkward, but the move not only paid dividends for McVaugh, it proved quite profitable for the Polar Bears, too. Individually, McVaugh closed out his career with 53 points in 65 games on 22 goals and 31 assists. As for the program, during McVaugh’s career at Bowdoin it chalked up a record of 66-28-9. More impressively, however, it earned postseason berths all four of his years there, the last three of which saw Bowdoin fall to Middlebury College in the New England Small College Athletic Conference Tournament finals.

As head coach, McVaugh is not only working closely with his players, but with his assistant coaches—Jan Flaska and Drew Philie ’09—as well.

“Brendan was always very supportive of me,” said McVaugh. “He included his assistant coaches in any discussions and decisions that concerned the team. I like that method . . . I think it’s important, game in and game out, that everyone be on the same page.”

So far, McVaugh’s game plan seems to be working quite well, if a 6-3 record and a 2016 Flood-Marr Tournament Championship (as of press time) are any indication.

Behind the Bench: Caroline Stedman—Varsity Basketball

March 31, 2017

From the Winter 2017 issue of Deerfield Magazine by Bob York

Alissa Rothman, managing news editor of Amherst College’s newspaper, The Amherst Student, wrote a feature about Caroline Stedman during the spring of her senior (2012) year. The very first word of that story gives the reader a sneak peek of what they are about to learn about Stedman. That first word? Overachiever.

As the winner of the college’s Psi Upsilon Award, which is presented annually to the senior “considered preeminent in scholarship, leadership, athletics and character,”  Stedman carried a double major in economics and Spanish. In addition, she served as a research assistant in Amherst’s economics department and volunteered at the college’s Center of Community Engagement, which took her to Costa Rica the summer prior to her junior year to help promote literacy throughout the country.

As for athletics, which she somehow found time for, Stedman helped take the Amherst women’s basketball team to four straight Division III Final Four berths, including a National Championship her junior year and an overall four-year record of 124-8. Individual laurels were also numerous, and included three All-New England Small College Athletic Conference selections, being named NESCAC Player of the Year twice, a Final Four MVP pick the year Amherst won the national title as well as being named Player of the Year that same season by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

Stedman, who finished fifth on the school’s all-time scoring charts with 1256 points and fourth in steals with 188, pushed the reset button following graduation, however. She’s still holding court, but as a coach, no longer as a player. This winter marks the fourth year she has been tutoring the Deerfield Academy girls varsity basketball team. The first two seasons as an assistant coach, the last two as head coach.

“I’m really excited about being a part of this program,” said Stedman. “We have a good core of players here who are focused and committed to the program and from a coach’s standpoint, you can’t ask for any more than that.”

Through her four years of tutoring Big Green girls basketball, Stedman admits to frequently reflecting on her experiences as a player in order to help her become a better coach.

“In my mind, there are three key factors you need to know in order to be a successful coach,” said Stedman. “First, you need to know the game. Second, you need to know what it takes to make your team as successful as possible, and third, you need to know how much you can realistically ask of your players to do.”

“I think many of the assets Caroline had as a player will serve her equally as well as a coach,” said G.P. Gromacki, Stedman’s mentor at Amherst. “Whenever she stepped onto the court she was always a tremendous
competitor as well as an outstanding leader. She wasn’t a rah-rah type of leader, either . . . she always led by example.”

Gromacki, who categorized Stedman as “one of the best women’s basketball players to ever play at Amherst College,” pointed out that prior to her senior season, “Caroline was unanimously voted team captain and the vote certainly came as no surprise . . . everyone on the team looked up to her.”

Although Stedman admits that basketball is the game she has always been the most passionate about, it’s not the only game she has made her mark in.

“I was originally planning on playing two sports when I got to Amherst—basketball, plus either soccer or lacrosse,” said Stedman, who was a four-year starter in basketball as well as soccer and lacrosse at Walpole (MA) High School. “The problem was that at Amherst, the sports seasons overlapped and playing basketball during the winter season would have made it difficult to compete in soccer during the fall or lacrosse during the spring.

“I missed participating in three sports for the first time in my entire life,” added Stedman, “but the move did have a really positive effect on me because it marked the first time that I was really able to concentrate on a single sport for an entire year. Looking back, I’m happy I made that decision. I was able to play on some great teams, made some tremendous life-long friendships, and we all enjoyed incredible success.“

During her high school days at Walpole, which is a member of the highly competitive Bay State League, Stedman helped lead the Rebels to four straight tournament berths in basketball, where they earned a berth in the state finals her freshman year. She was voted  captain of all three sports during her senior year and earned Bay State League All-Star honors in all three sports as well.

“This is kind of a special year for me here at Deerfield,” acknowledged Stedman. “I came here four years ago when this year’s group of seniors were freshmen; I’ve been able to watch them mature over the past three years as student-athletes. It’s my first opportunity, as a coach, to have worked with one class throughout a four-year span and I’m anxious to see how they finish the final chapter.”

Meet the Sports Information Director: Carly Barbato

March 30, 2017

More Sports Information Means More Sports Community

From the Winter 2017 Issue of Deerfield Magazine by Nathaniel Reade

Carly Barbato, Deerfield’s new sports information director, moved here last summer with her husband, Brian, the new varsity football coach. Her job focuses on sharing scores and news about the teams with students, parents, alumni, and prospective applicants. Improving the quality and quantity of DA’s sports information, she says, will help strengthen Deerfield’s athletics community.

Barbato grew up in Ottawa, Ontario, played goalie for the Saint Lawrence University varsity soccer team, and then coached soccer at Loyola Maryland and University of New Hampshire, where she also provided support to student athletes.

The key to her work at Deerfield, she says, is an expanded website ( Besides posting scores, Barbato solicits a game report from each coach and posts it to the site. She has also instituted a new feature that highlights an “Athlete of the Week” for each team, from fourths to varsity. “This isn’t necessarily the MVP,” Barbato says. “Maybe it’s an unsung hero who’s doing the right thing and doing it well, or doing the small things that contribute to their team. It’s a great way to recognize our players, and the athletes really appreciate it.”

The website also has expanded coverage of alumni athletes and more information about each team. This allows students, faculty, and alumni to stay involved, and it also potentially improves the program by enticing would-be applicants. “Suppose, for instance,” Barbato says, “prospective students are interested in our girls hockey team. They can now go to the team page and learn a lot about it: really get a sense of the team, the team culture, the current players, and the coaches. They can also watch a little bit of the team in action via the videos we’ve posted. It’ll give them a snapshot of what being a Deerfield athlete is all about.”

Another addition to the site that has proved popular with those unable to attend games in person is the live-streaming. “This fall we broadcast six varsity contests live from the website,” Barbato says. “You can be on your couch at home, watching your team compete. We had great viewership of those events, so we’re going to continue that into the winter sports as well, and offer a live-stream event for each of our varsity sports.” Live-streaming is accessible through a tab on each team’s athletic schedule, via a direct link.

The expanded website, the live-streaming, and the increased sports information, Barbato says, all adds up to an enhanced program that “makes it easier for all our community members to feel as though they are part of the action.” 

Meet the Athletic Director: Bob Howe

March 30, 2017

Varsity Rookie

From the Winter ’17 issue of Deerfield Magazine by Nathaniel Reade

When Bob Howe, Deerfield’s new athletic director, concluded his 12-varsity-letter career at Loomis Chaffee in 1979 and headed off to Hamilton College, he planned to make the varsity squads his freshman year in soccer, hockey, and lacrosse. Soccer, check; he played center-mid for the varsity. When the team went to the playoffs, however, he lost two weeks of potential ice time. He tried out for varsity hockey but was rusty, and he got cut.

The way Howe reacted to this setback augurs well for the future of DA athletics.

“I was so mad about it,” Howe says, “that I didn’t go home for Thanksgiving break. I stayed at Hamilton, worked out, played JV all of December, showed the coaches what I could do, and got called up in January to the varsity team. I was instantly put on the second line, and I think I scored 12 goals that season.” He went on to a total of 12 varsity letters and became captain of Hamilton’s soccer, hockey, and lacrosse teams his junior and senior years.

“I liked the sport so much that I didn’t stop, I worked really hard to prove myself, and I got the opportunity,” Howe says. “It’s a great reminder that you should never fold your tent.” 

Howe was a faculty kid at Loomis. His mother started out as the librarian and became the head girls’ dean when the school went co-ed. His father ran both the physical plant and the admissions office before becoming associate head of school. Both of his parents worked there for 39 years.

Howe loved studying American history, and, of course, playing sports. “Throughout high school,” he says, “I remember how good the Deerfield teams were. We hadn’t beaten Deerfield in lacrosse in many, many years.”  Don’t hold it against him, but he says that “one of the highlights of my high school career came on the lacrosse field near the end of my senior year:” Loomis beat Deerfield seven to six in overtime, and Howe scored five of those goals.

All three of Howe’s siblings graduated from college and became prep-school teachers. “I swore I would never do that,” he says. “I was the outlier of the family.” So he took a summer job in Putney, Vermont, banging nails for a house-builder. He liked it so much that in 1987 he started his own company, Howe Builders.

“I loved the learning,” Howe says, “and I loved being outdoors, working with people, and planning things so perfectly that, for
instance, the materials arrived at the right time. At that period in my life it was great.”

Howe’s accidental path back to boarding schools began when he built a home for Drew Casertano, head of the Millbrook School, in Millbrook, NY, who had been a history teacher and lacrosse coach at Loomis. In 1992 Millbrook was about to construct a $10 million athletic complex, and Casertano asked Howe to oversee the project. Attracted to the challenge, Howe agreed, and served as Millbrook’s head of physical plant and varsity hockey coach until 2004. He then applied to be athletic director at Loomis, and served in that role until he, his wife, and their four daughters moved to Deerfield in the summer of 2016.

“There are two important things I learned along the way,” Howe says. “One, you’re only as good as the team you surround yourself with. We have great talent at Deerfield. The second thing is, never underestimate people skills. If we can manage people and treat them right, we can do anything we want. I enjoy working with people, and my transition from house builder to physical plant director to athletic director had a lot to do with that love of management. I love working with coaches the same way I loved working with plumbers and electricians. People need to know that you’ll roll up your sleeves and work with them, and not just give them directions. It’s listening to them, figuring out how to make their life easier, understanding the floor plan and the finished product, and working together towards common goals. It’s all part of being a good team.”

Chip Davis, Howe’s predecessor at DA, also taught history and economics, but Howe will be a full-time athletic director supported by a new Sports Information Director (see page 10). “My goal,” Howe says, “is to move the program forward but not change the school. There’s great potential and desire here to be better. So combined with the support we’re getting from the administration, there’s no reason why we can’t improve.”

Howe’s plan begins with requiring that coaches bring more prospective athletes to admissions. “Being a head varsity coach has changed dramatically in the last ten years,” he says. “Your success now depends heavily on your ability to get out, meet people, and get kids to look at your school. Recruiting shouldn’t be a dirty word, especially if you’re finding student-athletes who really fit Deerfield.” To meet this requirement, Howe expects his varsity coaches to network more with premier club teams and alumni. “We need to widen our margins and targets of who we talk to,” he says, “and get more kids interested in coming here.”

He also wants to improve Deerfield’s effort at the other end of an athlete’s experience: college placement. “Parents want to know where their kids will go after they play at Deerfield,” Howe says. “In today’s changing landscape, to be a varsity coach you have to have connections with college coaches. Our coaches talk to a lot of college coaches now on behalf of our students, and our coaches and our college office work well together.”

Some of Deerfield’s peer schools have responded to the increased level of challenge in varsity sports by hiring outside coaches who are specialized in one sport. “We hope not to go there,” Howe says. “Outside coaches are less likely to understand the ethos and culture of the school, and the rhythm of the term. I love the triple-threat model. It’s the essence of our school. To have a teacher who is a coach who is involved in dorm life is really important to the experience of kids who come to Deerfield. Teachers who are coaches understand which weeks are tough here and which ones aren’t so bad. They understand the discipline system here, and the Dining Hall hours. It’s all integrated.”

Because he is asking more of varsity coaches, Howe wants to “really look at how we take care of our triple-threat people. How can the Athletic Department relieve coaches of the responsibilities that surround their sport so they can do more coaching?  If they’re putting in long hours in the evening talking to college coaches or planning a spring trip to a tournament, how can we alleviate some other part of their schedule? Can we relieve the hockey coach of a fourth class in the winter? Or help the football coach by taking them off weekend duties? To have sports that are competitive, we’re going to need coaches to put in those hours. But then we need to help them in other ways.”

Another hurdle Deerfield faces with its athletics program, Howe says, is its “rural” location. Athletes at Loomis, for instance, have lots of off-season opportunities to play club hockey or fall baseball, thanks to the greater population of the Hartford area. He is therefore already reaching out to area club teams not only for recruitment purposes but to create more opportunities for Deerfield students to get the off-season sports opportunities they may crave.

Howe is also a fan of the multi-sport athlete, in large part because he learned so much from that experience. “Specialization is part of our culture nowadays,” he says, “and for some kids it does make sense. But for the majority, playing multiple sports actually makes them better in their primary sports.

And it’s good to play a non-primary sport for fun, or to experience the different roles. Sometimes you learn as much on the end of the bench as you do being a superstar.

“I had to learn how to adapt, playing different roles on three different teams,” Howe says, “and I think that taught me the skills I needed to persist when I didn’t make the cut at first for varsity hockey in college.”

Howe also believes that Deerfield athletics will get a huge boost from the new facility that is in the works. (see page 40) Built on the footprint of the current hockey rink, it will have a turf field and an elevated running track above a new rink, a tank room so crew teams will be able to row in water, a golf simulating room, and multiple exercise spaces. “It shows commitment to athletics, which parents want to see,” Howe says, “and it allows us greater capacity to have indoor, year-round practice space for out-of-season sports. The new indoor spaces will help kids who want to practice baseball batting, lacrosse, kicking a soccer ball in the winter. It’ll give our spring teams a viable practice space in bad weather. Right now we might have 36 kids packed into our fitness center during practices. This will double the space for weight training and fitness workouts. Overall, this allows us the space to do better work with our students, and more work, and allows them to practice more on their own time. It’s going to be a game-changer.”

Ramping up Deerfield’s athletics, Howe says, “is going to be a team effort. The administration is on board. The coaches are raising their level. We’re going to work really hard to get more high-profile athletes into our admission pool. It’ll be step by step, with little things adding up to a lot. Instead of setting our goal on championships to start, for instance, we’re setting our goals on really positive team culture. That’s first and foremost. When you start with that, the wins will start stacking up.”

Does this mean we can expect that from now on DA will crush his two-time alma mater, Loomis, in all matters athletic?

“Give us a couple years,” Howe says, chuckling. “But yeah. That’s the plan.

Phil Goss ’16: Champion Lacrosse Goalie

November 22, 2016

“Summer Gold”

From the Fall 2016 issue of Deerfield Magazine

by Bob York

For the US Men’s Under-19 Team that competed in this summer’s Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships in Coquitlam, British Columbia, history was definitely on its side. During all seven previous tournaments, which gather the best teenage talent on the face of the Earth, the US has dominated play by ringing up a record of 47-2. A past tinted in gold can come back to haunt its heirs, though, and with so much at stake, no one with “USA” scrawled across his jersey wanted to be responsible for that streak coming to an end in 2016.

Phil Goss '16 (left) pictured here with brother Nick '13

Phil Goss ’16 (left) pictured here with brother Nick ’13

“I think everyone had the winning streak on their mind because none of us wanted to be a part of the first US team that failed to finish first, ” admitted goaltender Phil Goss,  who prepped for the international stage this spring by helping to lead Deerfield to the Western New England Division I Boys Lacrosse League Championship during his senior year.

“I don’t think we dwelled on the streak, though,” added Goss, who will be playing his college ball at Brown. “I know I didn’t. During my career at Deerfield, I learned not to look too far ahead. We always tried to take it one play at a time … one quarter at a time … one game at a time. I never let myself lose sight of what lay immediately ahead of me, and, like at Deerfield, it worked.”

As for that title streak, it eventually reached eight straight, but Goss would be the  first to admit he and his teammates accomplished the feat the hard way: Title No. 8 wasn’t secure until the Americans tallied the winning goal with just eight seconds remaining in the gold medal game, to post a 13-12 victory over Canada and close with a 6-0 showing.

“It was one of the most exciting games I’ve ever been a part of,” said Goss, who shared goaltending duties during the tournament with Willie Klan (Syracuse). “Canada was  up 8-2 at halftime, 11-8 after three periods, and 12-9 with just over seven minutes to play.

“That’s when we began our unbelievable comeback,” added Goss, who played in three of six tournament games and allowed eight goals during that span of time. “We   battled back to tie the game with about two-and-a-half minutes left and then won it with just eight seconds remaining. It was unbelievable.”

Despite the nail-nibbling finale, the tournament was pretty much a replay of prior tournaments as far as the Americans were concerned. Overall, they outscored their opponents in the 14-team field by a commanding 97-31 margin.

“It was a great experience,” said Goss, who earned all-league status and was named the league’s outstanding goaltender following a Big Green campaign (15-1) that saw him issue a stingy 5.8 goals against average and kept 13 of 16 opponents from reaching double figures.

“The majority of guys I played with and against during this tournament already had a year of college experience,” added Goss, “so I couldn’t have asked for a better way to prepare myself to play on the next level.”

Ben Lovejoy ’03: Pittsburgh Penguin

November 22, 2016

“Claiming the Cup”

From the Fall 2016 issue of Deerfield Magazine

by Bob York

SAN JOSE, CA - JUNE 12: Ben Lovejoy #12 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with the Stanley Cup after their 3-1 victory to win the Stanley Cup against the San Jose Sharks in Game Six of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at SAP Center on June 12, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

SAN JOSE, CA – JUNE 12: Ben Lovejoy #12 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with the Stanley Cup after their 3-1 victory to win the Stanley Cup against the San Jose Sharks in Game Six of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at SAP Center on June 12, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

A clever tweet popped up on Carl Lovejoy’s Twitter account during the final round of the National Hockey League playoffs. It read: “Go Benguins!”

It was a rather nifty way of letting Lovejoy know that the author was rooting for Carl’s son—Ben Lovejoy—who was a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Well, Ben and the Pens now fittingly inhabit the North Pole of the NHL, when they reached that pinnacle on June 12, 2016 by besting the San Jose Sharks in the title round and carting away the Stanley Cup.    

“It’s a dream come true,” said Ben, who becomes the first Deerfield Academy alumnus to have his name inscribed on this coveted trophy, and the second to make it to the final round of the NHL playoffs in as many years. (Last year Alex Killorn ’08 and the Tampa Bay Lightning finished just two wins shy of capturing the Cup.)

“This was something we all worked so hard for and sacrificed so much for . . . to me, that’s what makes winning the Stanley Cup the best feeling in the world.”

What makes that best feeling in the world even better is to celebrate the moment with your family, and that’s exactly what Lovejoy and his teammates did. Immediately  following the postgame festivities, which included raising the Cup for all the world to see— “something I’ve always dreamed of doing,”—acknowledged Lovejoy, the Penguins commandeered the ice surface of the San Jose arena for a party of their own. In addition to Ben, Lovejoy’s legion included his father, Carl, his mother, Cari, his wife, Avery, daughters, Lila and June, and brothers, Matt ’07, and Nick ’10.

“After we won the game, the first thing I did was find them in the stands and make sure they would be on the ice for the celebration,” said Lovejoy. “It was important that my family be there,” continued Lovejoy, who later this past summer signed a free agent contract with the New Jersey Devils. “I wanted all of them to share that moment with me because they all had played such a huge part of my success.”

Lovejoy’s trek to the Cup ran directly through Deerfield, where he played hockey, and played it well enough to earn All-League and All-New England laurels. In fact, the three-sport standout also received All-League and All-New England honors in soccer and All-American status in lacrosse.

“The thing I remember most about Deerfield hockey was playing my home games in front of the most enthusiastic fans anywhere,” said Lovejoy. “They showed great passion for their hockey and their school.”

“Every kid who ever laced up a pair of skates dreams about winning the Stanley Cup,” said Brendan Creagh, who was an assistant coach to Jim Lindsay when Lovejoy was at Deerfield, “and to have it become a reality for Ben, I’m thrilled for him. Ben’s obviously an outstanding athlete, but what’s helped set him apart is that he’s a hard worker, too.”    

After Deerfield and following one season at Boston College, Lovejoy transferred to Dartmouth College, playing there for three seasons, culminating his senior campaign with a berth on the All-ECAC Hockey Team.

“I’ve always had fun playing hockey,” said Lovejoy, “but playoff hockey can get rather stressful. There’s so much anxiety, and excitement, and nervousness.  I didn’t sleep for two months! You don’t want to be the guy who screws something up.”

Well, he didn’t. So let’s change that tweet to “Go Bengwins!”

Sarah True ’99: Olympian

November 22, 2016

“The Trials of a Triathlete”

From the Fall 2016 issue of Deerfield Magazine

by Bob York


Imagine spending four years preparing for a race that lasts about two hours. Then, imagine not being able to finish that race due to an injury. For Sarah (Groff) True, that scenario didn’t require any imagination: It was her 2016 Olympic reality.

“I was obviously disappointed that I wasn’t able to finish the race,” said True, “but by the end of the day, I realized that it’s all just a part of sports; circumstances arise from time to time that can prevent you from competing. I still feel fortunate—it was my second opportunity to participate on the Olympic level.”

True, who finished fourth in the triathlon during the 2012 Olympics in London, went to Rio both prepared and eager to fight for an Olympic medal. As she was running out of the water after the swim portion of the event, her leg spasmed. She headed out to the bike portion of the race hoping that the pain would abate, but it got progressively worse and True was forced to abandon the race.

“I later found out that the spasm was likely the result of a bulging disc that became a problem only a few days before the race,” she explained.

Sarah attended Deerfield as a junior and senior, and says, “the school had a huge impact on me,” as she earned honors in both the classroom and in the athletic arena as a three-sport standout—cross country, swimming and cycling—for the Big Green.

“Academically, the two years I spent at Deerfield really gave me a strong foundation and made college much easier,” said True, who earned a degree in conservation biology from Middlebury. “Athletically, Deerfield helped cultivate a strong interest and love for sports,” said True.

Sarah twice earned All-New England honors in cross country at the Academy and All-American laurels for her work on one of the swim squad’s relay teams, “but I can’t remember which one!” she laughed.

true-yearbook-photoWhat she does remember is this: “You always had to be on your game at Deerfield,” said True, “because at Deerfield, you were surrounded by accomplished, driven, hard-working and talented athletes, and it forced you to be at your best just to compete on the same level as your peers.”

Sarah credits three people in particular with setting her on the path to becoming a world-class athlete.

“Larry Boyle, the boys’ swim coach, had a huge impact on me, even though he wasn’t my coach; he always encouraged me to stick with swimming. I guess he saw more potential in me than I had in myself back then. So I stuck with it, and I’m glad I took his advice,” said True, who went on to swim freestyle distance events at Middlebury and earned All-American laurels for her efforts.

As for peers, it was Patrick Bell ’00 who Sarah credits for being the person who introduced her to the triathlon.

“Patrick and I became friends at Deerfield,” said True, “and I’ll never forget how infectious his love was for the triathlon. He invited me to Greenfield (MA) one summer to compete in the Greenfield Triathlon—it was his favorite, and it was one of the first ones I competed in.”

Unfortunately, Patrick never got to see his friend and erstwhile protégé reach the international stage; he died suddenly in June of 2005 due to an undetected heart condition, shortly after completing a triathlon in Ashland, MA.

“I have to give Patrick so much credit for whatever I’ve been able to accomplish in the triathlon,” said True. “He’s one of the big reasons why I am a triathlete, and his memory will always be with me.”

Another of Sarah’s cherished Big Green teammates was also a classmate: Molly Yazwinski ’99.

“Molly was a standout distance runner who, I don’t think, ever lost a race she entered,” said True. “But more than that, she was everything you’d ever want in a champion athlete—she was humble, never sought fanfare, and was totally inspiring. She was a model example to live up to.”  

true-quoteQualifying for the Olympic triathlon, which consists of a 1650-yard swim, a 24.9-mile bike race, and a 6.2-mile run, proved every bit as challenging for True as competing in it.

“Rio hosted a dress rehearsal for the race in August 2015—exactly one year ahead of the games,” said True. “It was held on the same course as the Olympic race, so we had a pretty good idea of what we’d be up against.

“Every country has its own qualifying rules,” she added. “In the US, to make the team, you had to finish in the top eight.” Sarah qualified with a fourth-place finish.

True arrived in Rio for the Olympics a week after most of the other athletes, opting to complete a training block in Flagstaff, AZ, beforehand. Flagstaff’s heat and high altitude were factors in her decision as she worked to best prepare for the games.

“The thinner air results in increased hematocrit,” True explained. “By having a greater percentage of red blood cells, the oxygen carrying capacity is elevated; endurance athletes have long incorporated altitude training to improve athletic performance.”   

Being a triathlete is a full-time job for True, who spends between 20 and 25 hours per week swimming, biking, and running. “It’s a constant balancing act with the three,” she said. “I generally adjust my practice sessions based on how well I feel I’m doing in each of the three segments. If I like the way things are going in one area, I’ll devote more time to another that I feel needs more work.

“I never expected to become a full-time athlete,” said Sarah, “but it’s been an unbelievable experience. I’ve competed with and against some of the greatest athletes in the world—all around the world.”

So does that mean Sarah’s world tour will be scheduling a stop in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics?

“We’ll see,” she replied.

Girls Soccer

November 22, 2016

From the Fall 2016 issue of Deerfield Magazine

by Bob York


The way Heidi Valk sees it, “We’re a year older . . . hopefully, we’ll be a year bigger, a year stronger, and a year better, too.”

The 2016 edition of Deerfield girls varsity soccer should be all of the above, and Valk, who is entering her 25th season at the helm of the program, isn’t exactly going out on a limb when sharing her expectations. Not when you consider that 14 of 19 of her players are returning from last year’s team.

“I honestly can’t remember when I’ve ever had this many players returning from the previous year—it’s exciting,” said Valk, who will be celebrating an anniversary of sorts this season: Twenty years ago this fall, Valk’s 1996 squad chalked up an undefeated regular season, captured the Western New England Girls Soccer League crown, and made it to the Class A finals of the New England Prep School Athletic Council Tournament.

A team roster featuring four seniors, five juniors, and five tenth-graders can have an upside beyond a bottom line of wins and losses. In Valk’s case, looking out at so many youthful faces strikes a bit of a nostalgic tone.

“It’s fun to have a bunch of players around for a long period of time,” said the  veteran Deerfield mentor, whose teams have qualified for postseason play ten times, most recently in 2013. “From a coach’s standpoint, having a player on your roster for three or four years gives you the opportunity to watch them grow—to watch them mature both on and off the field. To me, that’s a very gratifying part of coaching.”

Getting to watch tenth-grader Erin DeMarco for the next three years should be particularly gratifying for Valk, as the Big Green coach credited her young goaltender as “having had quite a first year for herself,” after a stingy performance last fall that allowed her opponents just over two goals a game. “Erin’s a tough kid, she worked hard and kept improving throughout the season and it really paid off for her,” said Valk.

DeMarco doesn’t mind deflecting much of the credit for her sudden success to those who took time to help her out along the way. Among them was Jan Flaska, the former Big Green boys varsity soccer coach.

“Every Monday during practice I’d go over and practice with the boys team,” said DeMarco, “and it really helped me. The boys’ shots are generally harder and faster than  what I normally face with the girls, so I felt it was beneficial and hope we’ll continue to do it this season.”

DeMarco also gave credit to assistant girls coach Carly Barbato, who played in goal on the collegiate level, for helping to improve her game between the pipes. “We’d get down to the field early,” said DeMarco, “and Coach Barbato would spend 20 minutes every day before practice working with me on moving out of the net to cut down the angles and blocking shots; I learned a great deal from working with her.”

Heading into last season, DeMarco was feeling the pressure of her position, but not just because of her inexperience. She wasn’t only a ninth-grade goalie—she was the only goalie.

“No matter how things went out there on the field, my teammates were always very supportive of me,” said DeMarco, “and I really appreciated their support and encouragement—it helped me gain confidence in my play.”

Offensively, last fall’s two top point producers returned to campus, as Co-captain Jackie Minor ’17 and Brenna Hoar ’18, who ranked first and second respectively on the scoring charts, are back, as is Annie Ilsley ’18.

The Big Green midfield is in good shape with five regulars ready to pick up where they left off last season. They include Meghan Halloran ’17, whom Valk considers “an extremely hard worker in whatever sport she’s playing (Halloran also plays hockey and lacrosse) as well as being a very gifted athlete.”

Megan Graves ’18, Bailey Cheetham ’19, Margaret Williams ’19, and Sophie Opler ’19 round out the Big Green up the middle, while the defense is set once again as well. There, Co-captain Audrey McManemin ’17, Felicia Renelus ’17, Alli Norris ’18, and Nicole Da Costa ’19 are all classified as seasoned veterans.

“We’ve got about five roster spots to fill,” added Valk, “and I suspect that a couple of those will be filled by players moving up from last year’s JV team.”

Boys Soccer

November 22, 2016

From the Fall 2016 issue of Deerfield Magazine

by Bob York

Ramesh Rajballie has become a fixture along the sidelines of numerous Deerfield soccer programs over the past ten years. He has spent eight years coaching the boys JV team following two seasons as an assistant with the girls varsity squad. This fall marks Rajballie’s first as head coach of the boys varsity team.


“I’m excited to be working with the varsity boys, and I’m looking forward to the challenge of building an ever-stronger program,” said Rajballie, who is stepping in for Jan Flaska. Flaska, a 10-year veteran on the Big Green soccer scene, isn’t going far, however, as he will continue as an assistant coach in both boys hockey and boys lacrosse.

Rajballie was a logical choice for the position, as he owns an impressive resume in the sport. The Toronto native was selected for both provincial and national teams in Canada from ages 16 through 18, before moving on to play at Harvard University for four years. While at Harvard, Rajballie earned Academic All-American laurels as a senior and was named the Crimson’s MVP that same year. During his sophomore and junior campaigns, he helped lead Harvard to the NCAA D-I Final Four tournament.  After college, he played three years of professional soccer with the Toronto Blizzard of the Canadian Soccer League. Subsequently—and prior to his arrival at Deerfield—Rajballie coached in France and Italy.

“Although it’s my first year with the varsity, I have crossed paths with many of the boys in previous years on the JV; so going in, I feel as though I know many of them already,” Rajballie commented.


There are plenty of familiar faces on the field, as well. Ten starters from last year’s squad returned to the fold this fall, and none will be more important to Deerfield’s hopes of regaining playoff stature than goaltender Tim Gerber ’17. Last year, as the Big Green won four games and tied two others, Gerber proved to be the glue that held things together. For starters, he allowed just 37 goals through 18 games for a stingy 2.05 goals against average. He finished the campaign with four shutouts, while he gave up two goals or less in 13 of Deerfield’s 18 games.

“We’re coming off a disappointing season, record-wise,” said Gerber, who is a bit of a rarity at Deerfield, as soccer is his primary sport.
“Individually, though, a number of players had pretty good seasons for themselves and we’re all hoping to build on that fact.”

“Tim has a very disciplined work ethic and is wholly committed to the success of the team,” said Flaska. “He’s constantly preparing himself to be the best goalie he can be.”

In addition to tending goal for the Big Green during the fall, Gerber spends his weekends in the spring playing for Norwalk, CT, in the
National Premier League, a highly competitive soccer organization that plays primarily in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. In fact, with Gerber keeping opponents off the scoreboard last spring, Norwalk captured the league’s New England Regional Championship.

Hoping to take a little pressure off Gerber and his defenders this season will be forward George Fair ’17, the Big Green’s top returning scorer, as well as Camden Kelleher ’18, and Young Gun Lee ’18. Rajballie is also expecting to get some flair and attacking punch from Angel Paes-Villar, a new senior from Spain. And although Paes-Villar has been playing his high school soccer a long way from Deerfield, the Big Green knows exactly what it’s getting, thanks to a preseason training camp on the road last fall—in Spain. During the time abroad, Deerfield practiced with and scrimmaged against a number of Spanish counterparts, including Paes-Villar’s club.

“Angel’s a technically gifted athlete who has outstanding vision on the field,” said Flaska, who saw Paes-Villar in action in his hometown of Valladolid, Spain. “’He’s also an extremely versatile player in terms of the many positions he can play. He’ll be a soft-spoken but hard-playing teammate.”

Down at the other end of the field, the Big Green has plenty of experience that will help to make Gerber’s life a bit easier: Team captain Brian Davis ’17 returns to his post at centerback, while Jack Wood ’17, Reid Shilling ’17, AJ Shea ’17, Cameron Thrasher ’17, Alex Platt ’18, and Jackson Pitcher ’19 all revisit their defensive roles. And Rajballie hopes to see those backs develop their attacking instincts and capabilities as well.

“I’m optimistic about the season,” said Rajballie. “We have quite a bit of experience on this year’s team, especially at the back. We
have ten lettermen returning, several interesting postgraduates coming aboard, and a group of promising players who are likely to move up from a strong (11-2-3) junior varsity team. The big question mark for me is the midfield. But in any case, I feel that the key over the long-term is the process: If we get the process right—if we play good soccer—then, in time, the wins will take care of themselves.”

Meet the Coach: Brian Barbato

November 21, 2016

From the Fall 2016 issue of Deerfield Magazine


Brian Barbato’s introduction to Deerfield Academy Athletics certainly had its share of ups and downs. Nearly three decades later, the Big Green’s new head football coach still can’t help but crack a smile when reminiscing about all those bumps he and his grandfather—Charles “Chuck” Demers—hit while bounding over the school’s Lower Level in a golf cart.

For the passenger, “It was a blast,” remembers Barbato, who figures he was about seven years old at the time. For the chauffeur, though, bouncing over the practice fields was strictly business. Demers, who spent more than 40 years as an athletic trainer at the Academy, and is a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame, says the cart allowed him to shrink the landscape and make the hundreds of athletes he was responsible for more quickly accessible.

Despite his youthfulness, Barbato was able to discern something more than just fun and games from these campus cruises, and it was this revelation that ultimately lured him back to campus last fall—to stay.   

“Even at an early age, I really picked up on the enthusiasm and the energy Deerfield athletes exhibited toward their sports,” says Barbato. “I feel very fortunate to have witnessed the rich tradition of Deerfield athletics as a youngster, and I’m honored to be able to play a part in it now.”

This fall actually marks Barbato’s second season on the Deerfield sidelines, but his first as head coach. Last year that title belonged to Mike Silipo, who stepped away from the fray after 48 years of coaching prep school football. Silipo tutored the Big Green for the past 20 years, while previously logging 28 seasons at Tabor Academy.

“It was a rather unconventional way of filling the position,” admitted former Director of Athletics Chip Davis of the coexistence of outgoing and incoming head coaches for a season. “In most instances, one coach steps back and a new one steps forward. Given the circumstances, though, we felt it would be beneficial to bring Brian on as an associate head coach a year before Mike’s retirement,” Davis explained. “Brian was coming here having spent the previous ten years as an assistant coach on the collegiate level—it’s a completely different culture.”

“Last year was great,” Barbato says. “I learned a lot and had a blast.”


Barbato’s biggest adjustment between Durham, NH, and Deerfield wasn’t related to the gridiron, but elsewhere on campus. At the University of New Hampshire, Barbato had one job: assistant football coach. At Deerfield, it doesn’t work quite the same way: Most coaches have “day jobs”—Barbato is also an associate director of admission and coordinator of student activities. He has a “night job,” too—faculty resident.

“For a first-year faculty member, it can be a lot to digest,” explains Davis, “especially if one of those jobs happens to be head football coach.”

Looking back, Davis feels the scenario was successful. “After coaching football for 48 years, Mike was very open-minded and receptive to new ideas that Brian brought to the table,” said Davis. “As for Brian, he was totally supportive of Mike during his final season as head coach.”

“Brian and I struck up a great relationship last season,” added Silipo, whose 207 victories (88 at Deerfield, including a Super Bowl) place him atop the NEPSAC listings. “He’ll do great. He has what it takes—he’s positive, he’s energetic, he’s competitive.”

“With my ties to Deerfield, I’ve known Mike for quite some time and have the utmost respect for him and the kind of program he’s run here at Deerfield,” says Barbato, who nearly played for Silipo once upon a time—at Deerfield.

“Mike recruited me for a PG year after I graduated from Exeter (NH) High School nearly 20 years ago,” says Barbato, but the standout offensive lineman got an offer he couldn’t refuse: a football scholarship to UNH. That offer came about in part thanks to Chip Kelly, who recently kicked off his first season as head coach for the San Francisco ’49-ers, and with whom Barbato later worked as a rookie coach at their alma mater. barbato_stats_40x600

Now, “I’m looking forward to this year,” says Barbato, as he ticks off goals for his team: “Developing character, instilling values, being disciplined on and off the field, having players be accountable to one another, learning to be efficient and to play an up-tempo game, learning to play smart . . .

“We have a great returning foundation,” Barbato continues. “I’m already extremely proud of our co-captains—Brandon Scott ’17 and Tommy Hale ’17—they offer so much leadership and they both have a great work ethic.”

Barbato adds that several talented post-graduate seniors should only add to an already strong team’s potential. Fifteen members of that team were able to flex their collective muscle together this summer at a Boston College training camp. While on the BC campus, Barbato and crew were treated to a presentation by BC Associate Athletic Director Barry Gallup—Deerfield Class of ’65. Gallup, who was instrumental in recruiting Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie, told the Big Green team that his PG year at Deerfield was one of the most influential in his life, and he urged the boys to make the most of their time at the Academy.

“It was a great opportunity for us to bridge that gap between returning players and PGs,” says Barbato, “and Barry was so proud to have our Deerfield boys there.

“I’m really excited about taking over the program and following in the footsteps of such coaching greats as Mike Silipo and Jim Smith,” Barbato continues. “Our teams will play with mental toughness, physicality, and passion. My goal for this year—and going forward—is to build a winning culture. My goal is winning.”

On a personal level, Barbato adds, “This is the only job that could get me to leave UNH . . . I love this place.” Love of Deerfield runs in the family—Barbato’s grandmother, Kay, worked in the Admission Office for years, as did his aunt, Deb Dohrmann. And Barbato’s uncle, Dick Dohrmann, is a former teacher and basketball coach at the Academy.

As delighted as Barbato is about landing his “dream job,” his grandparents are pretty pleased about having him around, too.

“We’re so happy Brian’s joined the Deerfield Academy community, and we know  he’ll make an outstanding head football coach,” said proud grandfather Chuck Demers, who recently earned another family title. On May 13, 2015, Barbato and his wife, Carly, had a baby boy.

“We named him Charlie—after his great-grandfather,” says Barbato.

“Guess I’m going to have to get that golf cart going again,” quipped Demers. “I’m sure there’s room for three.”

Corn Chowder Recipe

August 12, 2016

From the Winter 2015 issue of Deerfield Magazine — 
 corn chowder 2
Eight 8-ounce serving
1 large onion, diced small
2 celery stalks, diced small Olive oil for sautéing
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
3 tablespoons butter for roux
3 tablespoons flour for roux
1 quart of milk
2 cups of half and half
1 ½ pounds potatoes, cut in ½ inch cubes
1 15-ounce can of whole kernel corn
2 15-ounce cans of cream corn
Salt and pepper
Cook diced potatoes in salted water until tender but not mushy. Drain and set aside. Sauté the onions and celery in the olive oil until they are translucent. Add the garlic, thyme salt and pepper for the last minute. Add butter and allow to melt. Over low heat, add flour and combine with melted butter (and veggies) to make roux. Cook roux for 3 minutes to cook out raw flour taste. Add the cream and drained canned corn. Stir to combine with roux and veggies. Add milk and half and half before the mixture gets too hot. Stir to dissolve roux and bring to a simmer on low heat, stirring often. Soup should come to a nice thick consistency. Add warm milk if you want it thinner. Add the par cooked potatoes and taste. Adjust seasonings as needed.
For video instructions on how to make this tasty dish. Click here.

Raspberry Filled Vanilla Cookies Recipe

August 12, 2016

From the Winter 2016 issue of Deerfield Magazine — 

Yields: Approximately 3 1⁄2 Dozen


Granulated Sugar    1 1⁄4 cup

Salt                               1⁄2 tsp.

Baking Soda                1⁄2 tsp.

Shortening                   1⁄3 cup

Unsalted Butter        2 3⁄4 Tbs.

Eggs                            1 large or 2 small

All Purpose Flour      2 1⁄4 cups

Vanilla Extract               1⁄2 tsp.

Raspberry Filling*         3⁄4 cup


  1. Cream sugar, butter, and shortening until light and fluffy.
  2. Add egg or eggs.
  3. Add vanilla extract.
  4. Add flour, salt, and soda, and mix until smooth.
  5. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. If dough is too soft, refrigerate 15 to 20 minutes. Place balls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Make an indentation in each with your thumb, and fill indentation with raspberry filling.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes.

*Note: Use ovenproof raspberry filling (raspberry jam does not work).

Southwestern Quinoa Salad Recipe

August 12, 2016

From the Fall 2015 issue of Deerfield Magazine — 

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 10.32.06 AM

Yields 14 3-oz portions


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1⁄2 cups water
  • 1⁄3 cup red onion (small dice)
  • 1⁄3 cup green pepper (small dice)
  • 11⁄3 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 3⁄4 cup corn, frozen (or fresh, if in season)
  • 3⁄4 cup black beans, canned—rinsed well
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1⁄3 cup lime juice
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 tsp honey
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Cook quinoa in 1 1⁄2 cups water until tender and “curly tails” become exposed.
  • Cool on a sheet pan.
  • Prepare dressing by blending vinegar, lime juice, honey,
  • and spices. Then, mixing slowly, add oil to emulsify.
  • Combine quinoa, veggies, beans, cilantro, and dressing.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Chocolate Strawberry Ganache Tart Recipe

August 11, 2016

From the Spring 2016 issue of Deerfield Magazine — 

Chocolate Strawberry Ganache Tart

This special Deerfield dessert is only served at the Prom and the Senior/Faculty Dinner each year. It is a detailed recipe, but we think you will find it well worth the extra time and attention—because this dessert is truly delicious!



6 tbsp.      Unsalted butter

1⁄2 cup              White sugar

3⁄4 tsp.         Vanilla extract

1/8 tsp.                             Salt

3/8 cup          Cocoa powder

 3/4 cup                           Flour


1⁄4 cup                     Heavy cream

4 oz.         Bittersweet chocolate

 1⁄4 cup                      Heavy cream

  4 oz.                     White chocolate

1 pint   Strawberries, hulled and quartered


Milk chocolate, shaved into curls with a carrot peeler


Cream butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Add cocoa powder; mix to a paste.
Add flour; mix until a dough is formed.
Form into a disk between two sheets of plastic wrap; refrigerate 10 minutes.

Roll dough (between the plastic) until it’s about 1/8” thick by 11” in diameter.
Remove one piece of plastic and invert the dough into a 10” removable-bottom fluted tart pan. Press the dough into the pan, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Prick the bottom with a fork, then bake in
preheated 375 degree oven until set around the edges, about 12-15 minutes.
Allow to cool before filling.
Chop chocolates and keep separate.

(Two ganaches will be made. Semi-sweet chocolate may be used in place of the bittersweet.)
For each ganache, heat the cream over medium-high heat in a small saucepan. As soon as a boil is achieved, remove the pan from the heat and add chocolate.

Stir with a whisk until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth (Tip: make the white chocolate ganache first and you won’t have to wash your whisk between ganaches.)


Spread the bittersweet chocolate ganache in the cooled shell, and refrigerate long enough to harden slightly.
Spread the white chocolate ganache over the bittersweet chocolate. Cover the surface with strawberries, pushing them lightly into the ganache. Garnish with milk chocolate shavings. Refrigerate until set.

Social Impact at Startup Speed

August 11, 2016

From the Spring 2016 issue of Deerfield Magazine — 

By Lori Shine

THE CHILDREN’S VILLAGE in Tanzania and the offices of a management consulting firm may be worlds apart, but they’re adjacent steps on the career path that led Caitlyn Fox to her new position as Chief of Staff at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). Founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan, CZI received a lot of attention when it was announced this past December, much of it about the Initiative adopting an LLC (limited liability company) instead of a traditional nonprofit structure. Fox, however, finds a hybrid organization a perfect fit.

“I really enjoyed the culture, the pace, and the level of innovation that I found in the private sector, and the big social issues I was working on at the Rockefeller Foundation—education, healthcare, and job creation. I wanted to find a place where nonprofits and the private sector overlapped: Now I’m getting to work on enormous issues in a startup environment.”

Not every startup receives such a bright spotlight, however. “Because of the scale of resources and the profiles of the founders, people sometimes assume we’ve got it all figured out, but we’re young, we’re scrappy, we’re figuring it out as we go,” Fox says.“It’s a little terrifying that we have so much work to do.” She laughs and adds, “No pressure!”

Fox credits Deerfield with the mentorship and care that empowered her to listen to her instincts as she navigated the private and philanthropic sectors. “I was primed to tap into what mattered to me and what I found meaningful. That was always treated as very important.” She notes the strong community and culture of service at Deerfield as influences, too, with “so many opportunities to exercise social impact on a day-to-day basis.”

Fox knew early on that she wanted to have an impact in the social sector, particularly in education, but when she graduated from Brown in 2007, “If you wanted to work on pressing social and environmental issues, the options were to work for a non- profit, become a lawyer, or become a doctor. Now the social sector is much more robust—there are social enterprises, corporate social responsibility within businesses, and philan- thropy itself has a million different versions. But back then I had no idea what that could look like.”

So she jumped in on the ground, living and working at the Children’s Village outside Karatu, Tanzania, through the Tanza- nian Children’s Fund. The Village features homes for orphaned children, a school, a healthcare clinic, and a microfinance component. Fox lived in one of the houses in the Village with twelve children. She made breakfast for them and walked with them to the village school, where she taught English. On week- ends she traveled with the group’s doctor to remote Maasai villages, helping out with medical supplies and triaging patients at the traveling clinic.

“I really got to do a little bit of everything,” Fox says, “which made me have so much respect for people who make that their life’s work. It has stayed with me.” In philanthropy, she notes,“you can get so removed from the work that’s being done on the ground. Having experienced how complex it is to get things done in highly resource-constrained environments, I realize that sometimes when things aren’t getting done as quickly as you’d like them to, it matters to be a little more patient and creative.”

Fox knew she wanted new tools to tackle the kinds of problems she’d seen in Tanzania, but she didn’t have a road map yet for that kind of career—that part had to evolve step by step. “I had a stint in traditional management consulting,” she says, “which let me build up a broad skill set in project management and research and problem solving.” Later, when she was recruited to work at the Rockefeller Foundation, she saw that philanthropy provided a bird’s eye view of big issues. “Philanthropies are in a position to oversee a lot of potential solutions, and they can coordinate across organizations.” Fox helped set up partnerships with NGOs, universities, and other organizations working directly on the foundation’s focus areas, so they could stay current on developing problems and solutions in those areas, thereby creating connections that continue to hone the foundation’s responsiveness to conditions on the ground.

From her Deerfield experience, Fox knows how important it is to be listened to—and now she is doing the listening. In the startup phase at CZI, she says, “the vast majority of my time is spent listening, in an effort to find what practices we could emulate that have worked well for others. We’ve also been diving deep and meeting with experts and practitioners in our funding areas to really understand the needs and opportunities, and to decide where we could be uniquely helpful.”

To start, CZI is planning work in personalized learning, curing disease, and building stronger, more equitable communities. There’s no such thing as a “typical day” at the office yet, but that’s not a problem for Fox.

“We’re such a young organization and there’s so much work to be done. Once we have processes in place, I suspect I’m going to miss the craziness of the beginning, so I’m trying to be present and soak it all up.”//

tête-à-tête: Amy Siuda

August 11, 2016

From the Spring 2016 issue of Deerfield Magazine — 

By Julia Elliot

tête-à-tête image 1Amy Siuda ’93, associate professor of oceanography and program director for the Sea Education Association’s SEA Semester: Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, recently spoke with
Deerfield Magazine’s Julia Elliott as she prepared to lead one of SEA’s spring expeditions in the North Atlantic. Dr. Siuda has been affiliated in various capacities with SEA since 1997; in 2007 she joined SEA as teaching faculty. She also actively continues her own research, has presented her findings in several academic journals and reports, and was awarded the Jim Millinger Award for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Siuda is a graduate of Middlebury College and earned her PhD at the University of Connecticut. This fall Dr. Siuda and her family will move to Florida, where she will join the faculty at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg.

DM: I read that your interests span the organismal population and community ecology of plankton, and that your current research projects include distribution and diversity of Sargassum, and its associated community, and copepod-micro- plastic interactions . . . All of that is way above my head. When you’re at a cocktail party with non-science-y people, how do you describe what you do?

AS: All of my research these days is applied science research; asking scientific questions for which the results will have some sort of impact beyond the scientific community—answering questions that are useful to managers or conservationists as they’re trying to solve bigger problems in the global ocean.

DM: So what is a copepod?
AS: A zooplankton. It’s a small animal that drifts in the ocean, that can’t swim against the current. That’s the definition of plankton; copepods are the most abundant multicellular plankton out there—if you do a net tow out in the ocean looking for microscopic plankton, they’re the most common thing that you pick up. They look like grains of rice to the naked eye, maybe even a little smaller. They’re one of the predominant grazers that are feeding on the primary producers (plants) that are out there in the ocean; they’re the connection between the plants and the fish, or the larger organisms in the ocean.

When I joined the faculty at Sea Education Association (SEA) in 2007, right around that time the science of plastic marine debris research was starting to get recognized as a valuable line of inquiry. One of my colleagues, Kara Lavender Law, started working on analyzing our long-term data sets of Sargassum from our surface nets. At the same time, I was looking at our zooplankton data from those same net tows; she started looking at the distributions of microplastics in SEA’s 40-year data sets… The questions that have come forth, and that still need answers, are: ‘What’s happening to the plastic after it enters a marine system; how does it break down; and how small does it get?’ Essentially, ‘What is the fate of the plastic?’ Part of that is also ‘How does it interact with the food web?’ So she sort of roped me in (laughs) because of my experience with plankton and my ability to run these experiments; we started thinking about ways we could ask questions of plastics and plankton and their interactions.

I’m interested in seeing if copepods are eating plastics—whether they will eat the plastics that could be available out there in the marine environment as larger plastic debris breaks down or as some of these plastics enter the ocean at much smaller sizes (a tenth of a millimeter) from face and body washes that people use, for example.

If the copepods are able to eat these, and choose to eat them, there’s also the potential for these tiny plastics to have absorbed con- taminates, that could bio-accumulate in the marine food web. The research I’m doing right now is sort of the initial steps to understand whether copepods could mediate bio-accumulation . . . If they’re eating these contaminated plastics, do those chemicals stay in the copepod? And then when the copepod gets eaten by something larger, do those chemicals then stay in the larger organism with potential implications for food contamination or popula- tion decline of larger organisms because of toxins . . .?

DM: Is that what you mean by ‘bio-accumulation?” The effects accumulate over time? Or as they go down the food chain?
AS: Actually, as they go up the food web— building up these toxins in the bodies of organisms. So right now we’re not testing the accumulation in the copepods themselves; we’re just seeing if the copepod even will eat contaminated plastics as a first step. The next steps are to really get into the chemistry of it and the accumulation potential.

DM: That’s amazing. They’re the size of a grain of rice and they can digest plastic?
AS: They’re not digesting the plastics. The plastic will sit in their gut and pass through their gut, but there’s potential for those toxins to leave the plastic and enter the copepod—to stay in the copepod.

We hear about large pieces of plastic in the guts of sea birds or large marine mammals, and there’s evidence that large marine mammals have bio-accumulated toxins in their fats. . . We’re wondering at what point in the food web does that start?

The current understanding is that if you have smaller pieces of plastic, they have more surface area, so more potential to absorb toxins from the environment, more potential to carry microbial pathogens; there’s more surface area for transfer, and they’re more easily consumed by much of the marine food web… But the debate is still going on, and studies are ongoing to understand bio-accumulation of toxins from plastics.

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DM: And you are also studying Sargassum?

AS: Yes—that’s one of the primary focus of my research; it’s a seaweed.

DM: Are copepods and Sargassum connected?

AS: No. They’re separate lines of research but t’s all applied research in the effort to support conservation. Sargassum is a seaweed—t’s a macroalgae and there are hundreds of different species of Sargassum that exist throughout the global ocean. The North Atlantic is unique in that there are two species of Sargassum that are never attached to the bottom; they drift at the ocean surface, so that’s how it fits into my research—they are plankton, too. The Sargassum drifts around, forms large mats of multiple individual plants, and they collect together when there’s not a lot of wind. Sargassum ends up being—the way I describe it—this oasis of life out in the open ocean where there’s not a lot of nutrients available for plant growth, and not a lot of food sources for larger organisms; the open oceans are pretty depauperate compared to coastal oceans. Sargassum provides an oasis and there are hundreds of smaller organisms that live their entire lives on the Sargassum, and then those organisms are a source of food for larger fish, and then up to migratory fish that are economically important, such as tuna and Mahi, that come to these Sargassum mats to feed out in the middle of the open ocean.

DM: How does Sargassum fit with your interest in conservation?
AS: The Sargasso Sea and the Sargassum is at the center of the North Atlantic gyre. Sylvia Earle, an oceanographer who has turned toward conservation, gave a TED talk—I think it was in 2009—she described these ‘hope spots,’ as she called them, around the world— places of unique biodiversity that really needed conservation attention. The Sargasso Sea was one of those spots.

Currently, there is an international effort led by the Sargasso Sea Commission to secure protection measures for the Sargasso Sea. I’ve been involved with that effort since the Commission’s beginning because of where I work—because of SEA’s historic record—data collection—in the Sargasso Sea; we’ve been sailing through the Sargasso Sea and collecting surface net samples of Sargassum and of plastics since 1971. So I’ve been really digging into and analyzing our long-term data sets and then collecting new data and asking new questions about these Sargassum communities.

DM: I read that Sargassum started washing up on the shores in the Caribbean a few
 years ago; why?

AS: It’s pretty exciting! So I have an interest in 
the Sargasso Sea but then, in 2011, there’s the first inundation event of Sargassum into the Caribbean. It was massive amounts of Sargassum coming into harbors, onto beaches . . . anecdotally, nobody remembers this much Sargassum coming into the Caribbean. So it 
was an episode from 2011 to 2012; concentrations went down to background levels in 2013, and then a new event started in 2014 that is just starting to subside now.

The scientific community is looking at this and wondering if they’re going to be continuous episodic events; we’re trying to figure out what’s causing them and how to predict them. Something that my colleagues and I were able to contribute is direct observation of the Sargassum. The SEA vessel Corwith Cramer was sailing across the Atlantic in the fall of 2015 with my colleague, Jeff Schell, on board as chief scientist; they were in the middle of all these massive mats of Sargassum down in the tropical Atlantic—sailing from the Canaries across to the Caribbean. He noticed that the Sargassum looked different than what he was used to seeing in the Sargasso Sea . . . We dug a little deeper and we actually just published a paper in Oceanography magazine; it reports that the Sargassum inundating the Caribbean in the fall of 2015 was dominated by a previously rare form of Sargassum—not from the Sargasso Sea.

DM: Where is it coming from?
AS: Satellite evidence and some back-track models of oceanic currents point to the Equatorial Atlantic. What I think is happening is this rare form of Sargassum had been there at low concentrations and then there’s been a shift in upwelling or nutrient input—something to allow that Sargassum to bloom. And then it’s just following the normal currents from the Equatorial Atlantic toward the Caribbean.

DM: Is there a concern about these large mats washing into these islands?

AS: There is. A major concern is economic: The tourism industry has been pretty severely 
impacted. They’re having to do a lot of beach
clean up; beaches are covered in seaweed,
 and that seaweed is dying, and it smells.

Ecologically, there is potential impact on sea turtle populations; if the adult turtles can’t get to the nesting beaches through the Sargassum, or if the hatchlings can’t get back to the nesting beaches through the Sargassum, or if the hatchings can’t get back to the water because of the Sargassum…One paper even described the potential for the Sargassum to heat up sea turtle nests—sea turtles’ sex is determined by temperature of their nests— so there’s potential to shift the population towards males. If that happens, it could have significant impacts on sea turtle abundances and populations in the future.

And then I describe this as two ecosystems
 colliding: where the Sargassum is coming in 
and covering up coral reef areas. Previously,
these two ecosystems have not interacted; with the Sargassum coming into the coast covering coral reefs, it cuts off light to the reefs. It’s adding lots of nutrients, and there’s  the potential for hypoxia or low oxygen concentrations because of degradation of the  plants and use of oxygen by bacteria . . . so there’s potentially some severe impacts for coral reefs as well.

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DM: Is this ‘bloom’ a climate change issue?

AS: That question’s still out there. The current hypothesis, which has not been tested, is that there’s been a change in nutrient input to the Equatorial Atlantic. Seaweeds need light and nutrients to grow, so if there were just really low concentrations of this Sargassum out there because they only had a certain amount of light and nutrients, if you suddenly add a lot of nutrients, then you have the potential to have a big bloom. Those nutrients could come from the Amazon River or from a change in the equatorial circulation that allowed more nutrients to come up to the surface from deep water.

I’m trying to understand the circulation and distribution of Sargassum for bigger picture questions, such as the impact on fisheries and conservation management. But then, also, I’m trying to understand the finer scale interactions on a single clump of this seaweed.

DM: How does the SEA program workand what is your role?

AS: Sea Education Association is an educational nonprofit institution. We’re based in Woods Hole, MA, and we work with undergraduates, primarily. Students come to us for a semester of college—they have an opportunity to focus on the marine environment and conduct their own oceanographic research, and we take them out to sea for half of the semester. There’s one vessel in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific, and we’ve combined this undergraduate education work with a number of research themes—such as plastic marine debris research, Sargassum conservation, marine conservation, sustainability . . . the faculty are conducting research along these lines and incorporating that into our semester programs. My primary focus—SEA Semester Marine Biodiversity and Conservation—is wrapped around and parallels the professional work that’s going on to conserve the Sargasso Sea.

DM: So students aren’t just doing research— they’re thinking about how it can affect conservation?

AS: Yes. The Marine Biodiversity and Conservation program is a 50/50 science and policy program, so students are conducting biodiversity research to inform policy and then they’re also conducting policy research and making recommendations. And we share all of this with the Sargasso Sea Commission.

DM: Why is it important to you, personally, that you’re addressing real world problems?

AS: It’s evolved over time; originally I just wanted to answer questions—contribute to our scientific knowledge—but through my research and my teaching, my goal has evolved to also try to have an impact on conservation of the marine environment. I want my kids to have a lovely place to live when they grow up. We need to start thinking more carefully about how humans are impacting the environment; oceans cover three-quarters of the world, and we’re just now thinking carefully about marine systems and our impacts on them. I hope it’s not too late.

One of the reasons I want to teach undergraduates is that I hope those students are going to be able to make a difference . . . If one or two of them can have an impact on the marine environment or in conserving the marine environment, then I feel like I’ve done my job.

DM: When did your interest in biology start?

AS: It’s hard for me to pinpoint . . . I only went to Deerfield for my senior year. I had been happy with my public school education, but I wasn’t feeling as challenged as I could be. I had the opportunity to pursue AP Bio at Deerfield, and it really helped to reinforce my love of biology. I ended up as a biology and French major in college—probably because I was able to dive deeper into both of those disciplines at Deerfield; the opportunities that were available, including building relationships with faculty outside of the classroom . . . I think that set the stage for how I work with my students today.

DM: When you look to the future, what do you think are the most pressing questions ocean- ographers are going to have to answer?
AS: Climate and climate impacts. We’re working on them, but almost everything comes back to climate, and human impact on the climate, and then how that impacts the environment. I think about my work with Sargassum and understanding its distribution and growth and the communities associated with it—you can always tie everything back to climate issues. Continuing to provide support from the scientific community to give managers and decision makers the correct story of those impacts so that we can do our best to mitigate the problems that are arising—that is an urgent part of our jobs.

DM: Do you feel hopeful?

AS: At times. There’s so much good science being done to impact policy and to help ensure that we have a healthy planet and healthy oceans in the future. But there’s also a lot of work that has to be done pretty immediately to stave off some problems that could occur. That’s why I teach. I hope my students can help make a difference, and I really do hope that my kids have a comfortable planet to live on in the future. //

Stormy Skies

August 11, 2016

From the Spring 2016 issue of Deerfield Magazine — 

By Jessica Day

Stormy Skies Image 3

While other people were hunkered down last October, trying to avoid the wrath of Hurricane Patricia—the second most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded—engineer Mark Beaubien ’83 was in a Houston, TX, control room helping his team in the air in their efforts to drop his state- of-the-art sensors (“dropsondes”) into the storm. He says there were many “firsts:” “For example, we caught 190 mph winds in a 69 mph updraft—there was basically a tornado at her center! And lining the plane up with the storm was kind of like shooting a bullet with a bullet. It was extremely stressful.” That alignment was key because every 15 seconds, an automated system in the WB-57’s bomb bay released a dropsonde, specifically designed by Beaubien and his company, Yankee Environmental Systems, Inc., to gather data in high-altitude hurricane flights. What follows is an abridged account by Mr. Beaubien of his scientific adventure.

“Last fall, after a very quiet tropical storm season, a small hurricane named Erika approached Florida. By the time our WB-57 was outfitted with a High Definition Sounding System (HDSS) and deployed from Houston to MacDill AFB in Tampa, they had closed the base, forcing us to scramble to Warner Robbins AFB in Georgia. From there, we made our first flight to the western coast of Florida over the remnants of the storm. An aerial photo (right) taken 12 miles up by the system shows relatively few clouds (Note: we caught a dropsonde exiting at 420 mph, which can be seen in the top center). The next week, Hurricane Marti formed in the eastern Pacific and we deployed to Brownsville, TX, where we flew two flights over Mexico. A week later, Hurricane Joaquin formed in the Atlantic and it was back to Warner Robins AFB, where this time we flew four flights over that Category 4 storm. Just when we thought the season was over, we deployed to a fourth storm, again in Brownsville. From there the WB-57 flew four flights over Patricia, where one drop- sonde sensor caught 195 knot winds in a 60 knot updraft. In terms of sustained wind speeds, cloud top temperatures, and minimum pressures, this storm was soon called the strongest ever observed in our hemisphere. Hunting hurricanes in October was like a ping pong game: first a storm in the Atlantic, then the Pacific, then the Atlantic, and finally back to the Pacific.

Stormy Skies image one

The High Definition Sounding System is a robotic dispenser that releases expendable weather sensors, called dropsondes, from a NASA WB-57F high altitude research aircraft. This former nuclear bomber, a relic of the Cold War era, has been retooled by NASA to make flights at extreme altitudes—venturing into the lower stratosphere. Within the former bomb bay, advanced scientific payloads including radars, gas samplers, and radiometers probe the atmosphere. Often, future satellite prototypes are flown to certify their performance prior to sending them to space. The two engine WB-57 is a single pilot aircraft with a navigator in the rear seat; there are only three remaining in the world. Payloads are generally automated or operated from the ground via satellite communications link.

Our initial engineering challenge was getting the HDSS prototype to work reliably in the low pressure, extreme cold (-80F) encountered at 62,000’. It is simply not possible to simulate the flight environment on the ground, and many painful design lessons were learned (such as the fact coaxial cables shrank, pulling out of their internally-soldered pins). And while dropsondes themselves have been around for a while, they have been manually deployed via ‘low and slow’ C-130J and WP-3 manned aircraft. It’s quite costly to fly over a hurricane at high altitudes, and the HDSS was designed to operate autonomously with redundant hardware to overcome jamming. Obviously, this technology will eventually migrate to high altitude, long endurance unmanned aerial vehicles, such as the Global Hawk or Predator/Reaper.

It costs society about $1,000,000 per linear mile of coastline when we mis-predict landfall of major hurricanes. Moreover, improvements in the accuracy of the intensity forecast (that is, how severe the storm will be when it arrives at the predicted track location), have been elusive. The US Navy funded development of the HDSS primarily to collect very high spatial and time resolution pressure, air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed/direction, and sea surface temperature data in the central core of major hurricanes. The Office of Naval Research’s goal is to improve forecast models by using the HDSS data to initialize them and to study how they perform vs. reality.

Stormy skies image 2

This particular research and development project has multiple Deerfield connections. Although their paths did not cross at the Academy, Todd Allen ’80 and MIT Professor Kerry Emanuel ’73 have been involved; working alongside me at Yankee Environmental Systems in Turners Falls, MA, Todd engineered major portions of the HDSS hardware and wrote the firmware. Meteorology Professor Kerry Emanuel first asked our Office of Naval Research sponsor for a measurement of the air-sea thermal and wind coupling under the eye wall of a hurricane. This critical energy exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere is quite difficult to measure, primarily due to the lack of access to that violent area. As Kerry describes it, directly under the eye wall, the surface of the ocean generally ceases to exist and is more of an emulsion.

My older daughter Lily ’17 took the photo of loading under the NASA WB-57 aircraft at Johnson Space Center in Houston, while she assisted during test flights. That particular day it was a heat index of 105F and the test flight was a disappointment, as only half of the sensors survived ejection. However, that taught us how to modify them to help them survive; in the fall we successfully dropped 840 dropsondes on 11 flights, spread over four hurricanes with only a half percent failure rate. My younger daughter, Madeleine ’19, also pitched in by helping to assemble dropsondes prior to field deployments.

Accurately predicting the path and intensity of a hurricane just a few days in advance turns out to be quite difficult. But, if we are eventually able to reliably predict them, then in theory, no one would need to die during a hurricane—everyone could be safely evacuated. Only time will tell whether the data HDSS takes will improve our forecast abilities, but being lucky enough to catch Hurricane Patricia was definitely a step towards reaching that goal.” //

The Grassroots Ambassador

August 11, 2016

From the Spring 2016 issue of Deerfield Magazine — 

By Julia Elliot

In June of 1994, Frederick “Rick” Barton traveled to Sarajevo on his first official diplomatic trip. NATO had enforced a fragile cease-fire in the Bosnian War, the ethnic conflict in which Bosnian Muslims, Serbs, and Croats fought for territory in the former republic of Yugoslavia. Just four months earlier, he had launched the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) at the US Agency for International Development. In Bosnia, he was tasked with proposing a program that might bring permanent peace and stability. The problem was, Barton knew very little about the country. “I essentially spent two weeks meeting as many people as I could,” he says, “and asking them what they thought was going on; pursuing the obvious questions, and not accepting any formulaic response.”

By day, Barton interviewed dozens of people at sites such as the Muslim Women’s Association, the Jewish Community Center, and on the front lines. At night, when the city was besieged by sniper fire, he pored over their responses in his hotel. A light bulb finally went off when one of the only remaining doctors on the maternity ward at the Kosovo Hospital mentioned that it was just himself and a couple nurses caring for patients. Apart from a handful of the middle class, Barton realized, almost all of Bosnia’s professionals had fled, but those who remained had talent and energy and were committed to turning the country around; for maximum effectiveness, any OTI program had to be directed toward them.

The Grassroots Ambassador

Recently, Ambassador Rick Barton stood before a group of students at a high school outside Madison, Wisconsin, speaking about the current civil war in Syria. To illustrate the severity of the conflict, he shared a video of the top Google searches by Syrians in 2015. The most common phrases searched—“hospital,” “treatment of burns at home,” “mouth-to-mouth resuscitation,” and “asylum in Germany”—are a vivid illustration of a population plagued daily by devastating violence.

“I believe there is a hierarchy of human needs,” Barton explains, “and at the very top is feeling safe.”

Whether it’s in Sarajevo or Syria or even back in the US, Barton believes physical safety is fundamental to leading a normal life. People cannot go to the market to buy food, send their children to school, or even stay in their homes if they fear being shot at, gassed with chemical weapons, or hacked to death with machetes.

“If you think that you or any of your family members are in danger,” continues Barton, “it absolutely consumes your being. The question is, how to get back to normalcy?”

Answering this question and intervening at these most desperate moments have been the backbone of Rick Barton’s career. In over 40 countries and in various official roles, most recently as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, he has sought to reduce violence and advance peaceful democratic change, formulating a humble but effective approach to conflict resolution around the world.

After that first journey to Sarajevo, Barton remained at the Office of Transition Initiatives for five years, building the office from the ground up and managing a budget that grew dramatically from an initial $10 million.

His primary mission was to advance the US effort to bridge the gap between addressing humanitarian emergencies and engaging in classic development.

Historically, it has not been the role of either humanitarian or development agencies to resolve conflicts. Humanitarians are deliberately apolitical as means to gain the trust of locals. This works well in a natural disaster with an immediate need for aid, but not in the case of manmade disasters, on the rise since the 1990s. Such conflicts can drag on for months or years and require skillful diplomatic maneuvering to resolve. Development workers, whose projects tend to be large-scale, take years to implement, and cost many millions of dollars, typically wait until the politics have been worked out and a country is stable. And in the meantime, a society’s downward spiral continues.

The Grassroots Ambassador

Barton was forced to start thinking about how to bridge this gap early on at the OTI, when he was also called to visit Rwanda in 1994—just one month after the genocide that left an estimated 800,000 Rwandans dead and another two million displaced.

“The country was really a ghost town,” Barton says. “If you hadn’t known about the genocide, you would think there were just not a lot of people and not a lot going on.” In other words, he says, it was almost as if a neutron bomb had hit: people had been the targets, leaving the country’s infrastructure eerily intact and unnaturally quiet.

Barton figured he would do what he had done in Bosnia and start off by listening. He quickly discovered that, this time, the genocide had left survivors too traumatized to even speak. One of his early realizations was that 70 percent of the population was now women and girls. He thought that perhaps the best way to build up the country—which at the time was underwater in terms of normalcy— would be to reach out to women.

“The US model is generally ‘let’s find a leader,’” says Barton. “‘Let’s find Hamid Karzai (in Afghanistan), and then everything will be better.’ Sometimes you get lucky and you do find a George Washington—but we made a big strategic choice in Rwanda, which was that we weren’t going to find that leader. Instead, we were going to pick a large part of the population and see how we could reach them directly.”

Working in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, Barton promoted a project called Women in Transition. The program gave women the opportunity to apply for a moderate degree of liquidity to restart their lives; they had to come up with an idea and create a business plan, and in exchange they received small start up grants.

Barton tells the story of three women who pooled their grants and built a humble structure in which to grow mushrooms, which they sold to hotels in Kigali for about $50 a week. When he visited later, they had expanded the small structure to include a tiny store with a Coke machine, making it a natural gathering spot. The three women were simultaneously supporting over fiffty dependents, paying taxes to the state, and fostering a sense of community in their neighborhood: a grassroots venture that initiated healing.

Barton’s approach at the OTI, his way to bridge that gap between humanitarian relief and classic development, was to find more opportunities for what he calls “catalytic interventions.” He sought out local “energy centers”—Rwandan women entrepreneurs, Haitians eager to educate their kids, Muslim women providing relief to their Sarajevo neighbors—people who could effect change on the ground. Working directly with an indigenous population, Barton says, allows the US to create models that are expandable and that have the greatest capacity for influence.

“What we really need to do is give the people in these countries a fighting chance to make it on their own, ” Barton says.

Rick Barton was born in Buenos Aires where his father, Robert D. Barton, was an officer in the Foreign Service with his wife, Nancy, by his side. Barton grew up in Argentina, Spain, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Bolivia. Later, as a volunteer election monitor in Haiti, Ethiopia, and Poland for the National Democratic Institute, he “got a little flavor” for promoting peaceful democratic change. He says his approach to conflict resolution was also inspired by his days at Deerfield, and the example set by Frank Boyden.

“He was a guy on the move,” says Barton. “He was constantly making something happen. You had to, with 500 boys. It’s accepting that [change] is a state of life.” Barton recalls how Mr. Boyden was perpetually engaged in catalytic interventions—sending boys out to harvest crops in the Valley, keeping close tabs on each and every student, and modeling the kind of behavior where picking up trash on campus was the norm.

Graduating from Harvard in 1971, Barton returned to his home state of Maine, and a job with US Senator William Hathaway. Later, Barton ran for Congress (he ultimately lost), and in 1982 he earned an MBA from Boston University. He helped with Bill Clinton’s Maine primary campaign, and followed the newly -elected President to Washington.

After his post at the Office of Transition Initiatives, Barton served as Deputy High Commissioner at the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Geneva, and later as co-director of the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; it was in 2009 that President Obama conferred the title of “Ambassador”—naming Barton US representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Among his achievements there, Barton was active in the creation of UN Women and the advancement of the UN Peacebuilding Commission.

While serving as Ambassador, Barton was called upon to comment on the US Department of State Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, initiated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; it led to his most recent set of international efforts. One of the biggest findings of the review was that the State Department’s approach to crises was dated. Barton likens it to a wayward re department: “They have some lovely red trucks,” he says, “and they love to race across town in the trucks and arrive at the fire, and then they write reports about what’s happening. Sometimes they suggest that the Defense Department or USAID jump into the fire. There’s limited enthusiasm in those places for taking that kind of guidance.”

As a means to make the US response to countries facing violent crises more coherent and effective, in 2012 Secretary Clinton created the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations and appointed Barton its first head and assistant secretary of state.

Barton brought along his sensible approach to diplomacy: listening carefully, seeking out catalytic interventions, and “going local.” He prioritized working with “silenced majorities”—those politically underserved populations that nonetheless desire to have a greater voice in bringing about peaceful change—and concentrated 80 percent of the Bureau’s first- year efforts on four countries strategic to the US interests: Burma because of US business interests and its role in stabilizing the region; Kenya because it serves as the operating base for the international community in Africa; Syria in an attempt to stabilize the Arab Spring and because of its proximity to key allies (Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Israel); and Honduras because of its proximity to the US Chief among his concerns was marrying policy with practice.

“Secretary Clinton really wanted to be able to convert ideas into action, and that’s why the word ‘operations’ was placed in that name,” Barton says. “If you’re doing policy and it doesn’t land, then you might as well be an editorial writer for the Washington Post.”

The Grassroots Ambassador

Despite a commitment to action, Barton insisted on being targeted in the number of priorities pursued in each country. “It’s about being aware of the political potential but not trying to build the Great City on the Hill,” he explains. “When I see the US getting excessively ambitious, trying to do too many things, I have a pretty good idea we’re going to fail.”

In Syria, for example, the CSO has taken on modest projects, such as funding 1200 policemen who had defected from the brutal regime of King Bashar al-Assad. A British, Danish, and American coalition provided the police with a modest salary of $100 each per month to protect the opposition- controlled portion of Aleppo. Some US government officials voiced concerns that those receiving funding might be terrorists, but Barton’s response was that each policeman was vetted, they were unlikely to become an international terrorist threat at $100 per month, and that if the CSO were to put off funding the police force due to onerous background check requirements, Aleppo would potentially lose its most effective firewall against terrorists.

“These are imperfect choices,” Barton says. “Anybody who wants to have a perfect environment before they get to work in these countries is really delusional. You have to be comfortable with a degree of chaos because we’re dealing with highly chaotic situations.”

In Burma, a country plagued by long-standing ethnic disputes and distrust between civilians and the military, the CSO works with local organizations to reduce land mines, an issue that brings warring parties together. In Honduras, the CSO sought to combat an explosive homicide rate—the world’s highest in a non-conflict zone—by working with a broad- based civic alliance that supported local initiatives, taxes, and a campaign against violence. “And they built a unique alliance to fight violence in every imaginable way—from better protection of witnesses to better prosecution of perpetrators,” Barton says. In Kenya, the Bureau partnered with a range of groups including a horticulture program, an AIDS program, university students, religious leaders, and Coke bottlers, among others, to prevent election-related violence. “They all had the same goal,” Barton says, “but hadn’t found a way to work together—we were the glue.”

With each CSO success story, Barton can point to what might have happened in a more traditional US peace-building scenario. For example, regarding Kenya, he says, “We could have sent three Americans there for six months and it would have cost about 600,000 dollars. How would three Americans be better at working toward a solution than 200 Kenyans for the same amount?” The US may take on the role of mentor or coach, but Ambassador Barton is convinced that potential to solve a problem—to bring about normalcy and build a sense of security—comes from within a country’s own population.

For his part, Rick Barton has relished the opportunity to build two new organizations within the US government, first the OTI and then the CSO. But he is quick to point out that the government—and the country in general —suffers from what he calls “obese institutions” with too many layers of bureaucracy and not enough clarity of leadership or vision. He sometimes jokes that his job at the State Department was “90 percent internal diplomacy and 90 percent the problems of the world”—a job that required 180 percent, but was well worth the effort.

Barton stepped down as Assistant Secretary of State in late 2014, but he continues to advance his vision of peaceful democratic change. He currently serves as a lecturer at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and he advises organizations and new businesses that seek to work on large public concerns.

Looking to the future, he predicts that violence will continue to be one of the world’s “meta-problems.” Terrorism, he says, is “too easy right now, and it creates phenomenal insecurity.” Cyber terrorism, as well as the fact that weapons of mass destruction will inevitably be miniaturized and therefore easier to acquire, only deepens the threat of global violence. He also points to climate change as a problem that could generate massive dislocation.

On a national level, Barton believes a great deal of work still must be done to rethink how the US engages in peace-building. “You have these big Washington industries,” he says, “and they need to be thinking about these very complex problems in a more integrated fashion. The US role needs to be defined as more catalytic rather than ‘we’ll go in and fix it for them or tell them how to do it.’”

Despite these future challenges, and despite having witnessed some terrible things in his decades of service, Rick Barton remains an optimist. “I fundamentally believe that if the problem is one that a human being creates,then another human being—or that same person —can correct it.” He has a high degree of confidence in humanity and trusts in an individual’s capacity to command their own life. Barton sees his role in making the world a safer and more peaceful place as “the person who is most likely to help others succeed”—humble words from a giant of diplomacy. //

Common Ground

August 10, 2016

From the Spring 2016 issue of Deerfield Magazine — 


By Jessica Day

IT’S A SUNNY AFTERNOON IN EARLY APRIL, AND ELLIE FRIENDS ’17 IS IN THE COURTYARD IN FRONT OF THE DINING HALL, WIGGLING A NEW HANDLEBAR GRIP ONTO A CHARTREUSE BICYCLE. She and classmate Valerie Ma have already adjusted the seat with an Allen wrench, checked the tire pressure, and added some air. Next up: doing something about the rusty chain. For Valerie, as founder and president of the Life Skills Club, where students tackle the practical, it’s all in a day’s work—or more accurately, in an afternoon’s meeting.

Life Skills is just one of nearly 50 student-driven clubs and alliances on campus, ranging from the expected—think Debate and Public Speaking—to the uncommon—anyone care to join the Napping Club? Some have been active for decades, while others reflect changing interests and attitudes on campus and around the world; the term “alliance” itself is relatively new to Deerfield, and it’s generally associated with groups that are centered around a common culture, race, ethnicity or religion. Something that hasn’t changed over the years is Deerfield students’ enthusiasm for these extracurricular activities—not cocurricular, but extracurricular—meaning that  time given to club and alliance activities comes from a precious commodity at Deerfield: “free time.” And yet, for many reasons, a majority of current students participate in one or more of these extracurricular organizations.

Valerie, who in addition to founding the Life Skills Club serves as an officer of the International Student Alliance, is on the Center for Service and Global Citizenship Student Board, is a member of the Psychology Club, helps out as a peer tutor, serves on the Disciplinary Committee, plays field hockey in the fall, basketball in the winter, and in addition to an art exemption this spring, practiced with the softball team and played with thirds lacrosse for a while, says that Life Skills was a small idea that just grew; she saw a need for students to learn some everyday skills—things that probably wouldn’t come up in the classroom but are nevertheless important. “Stuff that’s helpful,” she says with a smile, “like how to write a check and balance a checkbook or how to change a tire.”

Madisen Siegel and Jack Wood, also members of the Class of ’17, don’t belong to the Life Skills Club, but they do agree with Valerie’s reasoning as officers of Deerfield’s chapter of NextGenVest, an organization whose purpose is to help high school and college students learn what Madisen calls “real life financial skills.” They were part of the award-winning Deerfield team that wrote a script for a NextGenVest video titled “Hedge Funds 101” that is currently in production and soon will be available for students everywhere on NextGenVest’s website. But as much as Madisen enjoys being president of this particular club, she says it’s the Feminism Club (where she’s also an officer) and the Jewish Student Alliance that are integral parts of her identity.

“I was very active in my temple back home in New Jersey,” Madisen explains, “and I wanted to feel that Jewish presence at Deerfield, so that’s why I became involved in the JSA.”

“Finding common ground is something that’s true for both alliances and clubs,” says Dean of Students Amie Creagh. And that common ground is often a fertile place for self-awareness and leadership skills to grow. It’s also where community takes root, as students share who they are, where they come from, and what they know in clubs and alliances, and by extension, with the rest of the school.

“It’s bringing part of what you had at home—a connection, a familiarity—to Deerfield. There are some ways to do this that involve obvious similarities, whether you’re a student of color or an international student, for example. Those are conspicuous ways to say, ‘You are part of where I come from,’ or ‘You are part of what I know,’” Creagh says. “Then there’s bringing part of who you are from home to this new place that isn’t necessarily conspicuous or immediately visible, but it’s a shared interest you have. It’s trying to import some of where you’re coming from and letting it grow once you arrive here.”

Senior Shane Beard joined the Deerfield Black Student Alliance as a ninth-grader. He came from a school that he describes as “basically the opposite of Deerfield”—located in the heart of Houston, Texas, with a predominately Black student population. “I decided to join because I wanted to see what it was like being me and looking like me at Deerfield; I didn’t have to explain who I was or where I came from, and that was a relief.”

Marjorie Young, Director of Inclusion and Community Life, echoes Shane’s comments: “First and foremost, alliances are spaces, so to speak, for students to feel safe and to be with a group of people who understand who they are,” she says. “Oftentimes what you find is that you don’t have to explain a lot because it’s a space where you can just ‘be.’” And that goes for Black students, LGBT students, Asian students, or any other affinity group on campus.

“It’s the most basic instinct when people join an alliance,” Young says. “It’s like, ‘Phew. Ok. I’m going to be with the baseball players, and we’re going to talk first, second, and third base, and I’m not going to have to explain.’”

Sometimes it’s not just what students bring to the group, it’s what they take away. Imani Goodridge ’17 joined the DBSA as a tenth-grader, and this year is one of two junior officers—in the fall she’ll step up and take over for Shane as a senior leader. “DBSA was a safe place for me to talk about things that were true to me,” she says, “but also a place to key in and learn about things that I didn’t know about within my own community.”

As a first-generation American—Imani’s mother is Jamaican and her father hails from Trinidad—Imani says she felt like she didn’t really know what American Black culture is; “I’m from the suburbs,” she says. “Before I came to Deerfield, most of my friends were white; I gained new perspectives that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t join the DBSA.”

“In many ways,” says Marjorie Young, “alliances support the work of inclusion on campus; if you have a group that’s doing the work of speaking out, and they’re sponsoring programs and bringing in speakers, that’s a very important piece of being educators and bringing awareness to campus—of course students are learning about issues in the classroom—but through informal learning—during meetings and alliance-sponsored events—the community is enriched in a different way and the conversation is sustained.”

Or sometimes, it’s how the conversation begins: “Honestly,” Imani says, “about half the meetings we have aren’t about serious, hard-hitting issues—they’re just us, trying to get to know each other and finding common ground, but as we feel more comfortable with each other, that’s how we can facilitate those tougher discussions.” Such as the one that took place at a recent DBSA meeting that focused on affirmative action, or one at the beginning of the school year where students had a serious discussion about what it means to be a student of color or other minority at Deerfield. And if the conversation extends beyond a Tuesday night meeting or across alliances, so much the better, says Amie Creagh.

“Ideally, when clubs and alliances are functioning effectively, they are distinguished but permeable; and having a group of students who define themselves as invested in a particular identity can be really helpful for other students . . . if you think, ‘I want to know more about x, y, or z . . .’ you know where to go among your peers.”

Common Ground sidebar

Senior Valentina Connell started a “gender equality organization” at the end of tenth-grade, but when she and classmate Camille Moeckel, along with Madisen Siegel, attended the Independent Schools Gender Project at the Hotchkiss School that summer, they were inspired to get a group of girls together and rebrand as the Feminism Club. Early this spring, during Women’s History Month, about 30 students—boys and girls—along with members of the faculty stood on stage during a School Meeting and passed a microphone to each other while sharing: “I need feminism because . . .”

“It was really interesting,” Valentina says, “because we got a diverse group of people up on stage; we wanted to break down some stereotypes about who a ‘feminist’ is; I think we really helped our image and encouraged people to come to our meetings.” Close to 50 students—some members of the Feminism Club and others not—showed up to watch The Women’s List, a PBS series, and The Hunting Ground, a documentary about rape on college campuses, during Women’s History Month this year. Valentina adds that the Feminism Club is evolving yet again, and she and her officers have been thinking a lot about the interplay between human rights and feminism.

“We had a meeting that focused on girls’ education in developing countries,” Camille says. “We’re going to keep trying to move towards a way of understanding feminism in a global way.”

Right around the same time Valerie Ma founded the Life Skills Club, Sarah Dancer ’16 and some friends started the Baking Club. This year they were based out of the kitchen off of the Parker Room in the Dining Hall, and all winter long, every Friday night, they produced a steady stream of cookies, brownies, and even cake pops (although Sarah says those were a bit of a delicious failure).

“I’m proud we made this happen,” Sarah says. “Fun is a constant in the Baking Club, and it’s amazing how many people have participated in one way or another.” It’s the very definition of permeable: 187 students initially signed up; Deerfield Big Brothers and Big Sisters baked and decorated cookies with their “Littles;”members of the club sold their baked goods at hockey games and other events around campus. And since the Baking Club is a self-sustaining group, whatever funds are left over after buying supplies are donated to charity; last year the local food bank was the beneficiary.

“In many ways, Deerfield is a place where we want you to practice the habits of being a good person,” says Amie Creagh. Or in other words, leaving Deerfield with great academic skills, for sure, but also equipped with great personal skills, with cultural competency, and with a sense of awareness. “Those are the life-long skills I see clubs and alliances providing,” she says. //

Centrifugal Forces

June 22, 2016

From the Spring 2016 issue of Deerfield Magazine — 


Two years ago. Boyden library. Tenth-grader Lyric Perot bumped into a friend who had just come back from the most amazing trip to Africa. Did Lyric want to see pictures? Yes, she did.

And so Lyric flipped through photo after photo, one incredible image after the next, especially of the safari.

That landscape! Those animals!  “I wanted to go,” Lyric recalls. “I wanted to see those things.” but her friend said the safari had actually been a minor part of the trip. Most of the time, she’d been working in an orphanage with young girls. “She was talking about the relationships she’d made with girls in the orphanage—strong connections she’d made in a short time,” Lyric says, “and I really wanted to do that, too.”

centrifugalForcesTwo years later. Same library. David Miller is looking around a little sheepishly. It smells like new paint in here, and the large windows are spotless, but his office is a bit of a mess: He’s climbing over boxes, the walls are bare, and the lights keep blinking on and off because someone’s testing them down the hall. Miller moved in to the brand-new offices for the Center for Service and Global Citizenship (aka “the Center”) a couple of hours ago. “Nothing’s set up yet,” he says. But that’s not quite true—there are two things on the wall. One is a framed photo from Miller’s own undergraduate thesis project, which focused on a sustainability project in Panama. The other object that’s been unpacked and is ready for use? A globe.

The offices in the corner of the refurbished Boyden Library may be new, but the people collaborating to pull together global studies, sustainability measures, and community service initiatives have been doing this work for quite some time—and the mission undergirding the endeavor is as old as Deerfield itself. “The test of worth of any school is the record of service of her alumni,” is how Frank Boyden put it. It also happens to be one of Head of School Margarita Curtis’ favorite statements. She takes the sentiment a step beyond, however. It’s not enough to be well intentioned; one has to understand what is needed, and why, before one can truly do good.

“I don’t think you can be a good citizen in today’s world without becoming aware of other people’s beliefs, value systems, practices, and habits on an experiential basis,” Curtis says. “At the very core,  I think the Center sees character development as something that requires the ability to understand and see ‘the other’ on their terms.” Indeed, that layer of understanding is built in to the very mission statement of the school: “…the Academy prepares students for leadership in a rapidly changing world that requires global understanding, environmental stewardship, and dedication to service.”

“This triple helix is embedded in our mission,” says Miller, “because these are the three literacies that prepare students for leadership.” And while the word “character” doesn’t appear anywhere in that mission, it’s nevertheless everywhere. “The school’s commitment to character education in the 21st century is different than in the past,” Miller  explains.  “Today  it’s  applied  critical  thinking.  When I have a student come in to the Center, I’m more interested in the process they go through in figuring out how to take on the project than in knowing the specific outcome.”

Miller was hired four years ago as director of global studies, and worked closely with the director of sustainability and the director of community service–two separate departments at the time–to administer Earle/Mendillo Family Fund grants for students’ summer work collaboratively, for the first time. The three different branches worked well in concert. “Global Studies, Service, and Sustainability: ‘GSSS.’ It was our first totally forgettable name,” he laughs. “We’re still working on it.”

But what’s in a name? Far more important is the enthusiasm that’s coming from all corners—faculty, staff, and students alike—and once that energy and enthusiasm is focused outward, the impact it’s having on the world. “The world,” in this sense, is both local—on campus, in Greenfield, or at the outer edges of Franklin County—and far-flung—think the Dominican Republic, Tanzania, or China.


“We have kids from so many places and backgrounds,” points out Dr. Curtis. “We can gain incredibly important skills here at Deerfield because we have created a microcosm that reflects the world. But I think there’s still something about leaving your day-to-day—your familiar food, where you live. I consider that experience invaluable in many ways.” Curtis isn’t speaking academically; she herself underwent a cultural exchange of a kind when her family moved from Colombia

to Louisiana while she was the same age as Deerfield students. “I remember those days of transitioning—going to a high school where I was one of two people who spoke Spanish. It was very different! And yet I think the skills I developed—and the resilience, and the ability to look at two very different cultures—have been enormously valuable in my life, both personally and professionally.”

The orphanage that Lyric and her friend were talking about was the Janada L. Batchelor Foundation for Children (JBFC), a school for both girls and boys that also functions as a safe home for orphan girls or those growing up in abusive environments—and it was born out of another American teenager’s African adventure. Fourteen years ago, then-fifteen- year-old Chris Gates was looking forward to an exotic safari for his birthday. His grandmother Janada—for whom JBFC is named—indulged him, but insisted that he do some service work with the local community first. It became his life’s work—Gates established JBFC while still in college, and moved to Tanzania shortly after graduation. It’s an example of youthful idealism, energy, and grit being channeled into something real, positive, and lasting. It’s what David Miller would call putting ideas into action. It’s also an example of how much a single young person—a teenager—can accomplish in a rapidly changing world.

Lyric went to JBFC, and she was floored by her experience. It was—to put it mildly—“really different from Deerfield.” Most schools there are drastically under resourced, with five or six children per desk, no materials, and no food or water provided by the school. “And kids would leave halfway through the day,” Lyric says, “to start working.” But Lyric noticed other differences, too: “The most awe-inspiring moment was prayer night. After dinner the girls all gathered and started singing, and it was such a community experience but also such an intimate experience,” Lyric remembers. “And they let us be part of it . . . It was so  beautiful—a  lot  of  them  had difficult pasts, and they were all trying to be as happy as possible—or were, really, extremely happy.”

A few months later, the tables turned and some of those same girls came to Deerfield. “They were basically shocked, since it’s so different from what they’re used to,” Lyric recalls. Different. Not better. Which was a revelation for Lyric. “They don’t necessarily see this as better, which is an interesting concept—and a great one. They love their country.”  Just because they have  challenges in their country does not mean they want it to look like ours.

This is something Kayla Corcoran, a teaching fellow in the History Department who also helps to support some of the Center’s projects and travel initiatives, wants students to really understand—and as she was a Deerfield student as recently as 2010, she may have insight. (“I seem old to them, though, which is a little scary,” she laughs.) As a member of Deerfield’s inclusion team, which works to create a more complex, diverse, and accepting student and employee body on campus, Corcoran is especially sensitive to the destructive impact of the “savior” complex, a well-meaning attitude that can have a negative result, especially abroad. There’s a name for it in travel circles—voluntourism—and it’s not flattering.

“We talk a lot about managing intent versus impact,” Corcoran says. Students travel to help and to learn. Sometimes there can be a delicate balance between the two. Of course, the same can be said of the Academy’s mission writ large. Consider the word choice in that mission statement: it’s not simply global awareness or global knowledge, but actually global understanding, that puts the onus squarely on the traveler to make sense of the world they are exploring, and  of the people who are living in it. “We  try to explain that right at  the start of a trip,” agrees Corcoran, “talking about the difference between sympathy and empathy in travel.”

Junior Aiden Day understands what Corcoran means; he’d dealt with it firsthand even before arriving at Deerfield, having traveled more than once on service trips to the Dominican Republic. When he learned that Deerfield sponsored a trip where students would build a family a house in a week, he was all in. “I thought it was amazing,” he said. “I was definitely down. I already loved the DR.” He did wonder, though, how some of his Deerfield peers would react to the abject poverty. Day knew how shocking it could be. “On other trips I’d been humbled by the place,” he admits. “I’d had to acknowledge a lot of my privilege.” Would students with more privileged backgrounds than his be up to it? He needn’t have worried. “My main takeaway was never to underestimate Deerfield students!” he says. “People I might have thought would just be playing with the kids did a lot more work—in some cases more work than me. I learned not to make assumptions.” His classmates went in with their eyes open, ready to sympathize and empathize—and then roll up their sleeves and get down to work.

Corcoran points out that issues like this exist not only overseas. The distance between the haves and the have-nots can sometimes be as short as two city blocks—or a few country miles. Tenth-grader Owen MacPhee is learning this hands-on—or hands-in—as he digs in the dirt to help harvest vegetables at Noonday Farm in Winchendon, MA. He’s actually been around farms his whole life, and even attended a farmbased school prior to coming to Deerfield. “It was literally me and seven other kids in a converted chicken coop,” he laughs. So this was familiar terrain. But his internship at Noonday—which he secured through a Workman Grant and the Center —was  actually a solid stretch outside his comfort zone, too, since it required him to acknowledge the poverty that exists not across the ocean, not even across the state, but here in the Pioneer Valley. “Noonday has a program called Community Roots, where they grow vegetables and raise chickens and eggs to donate to local families and food banks—to people who struggle with food insecurity,” Owen explains. During his internship, Owen helped three different local families start their own gardens. “Rather than just coming to us to get food, they’ll be able to have their own vegetable gardens and grow the food they want—and get the enjoyment of a garden.”


  • Think 80 / 20
  • Spend a cocurricular term in the greenhouse Be a Big Brother or Sister
  • Get involved in CSGC leadership
  • Team with Cancer Connection to support others
  • Teach apps & technologies to seniors
  • Work with Deerfield employees in DAPP (Deerfield Academy Perspectives Program)
  • Engage with speakers from around the world
  • Be a global ambassador—Help host an exchange student
  • Host teams and youth programs Coach Special Olympics every Sunday Pack meals for the Salvation Army
  • Take classes about pressing global issues
  • Do advocacy work for an international organization such as Save the Children


  • Travel to Washington, DC, to meet Senators while attending an advocacy summit
  • Travel abroad on one of Deerfield’s faculty-led trips* Spend a semester or a year in exchange at a school around the world
  • Senior Year Abroad
  • King’s Academy
  • Chewonki
  • Mountain School
  • Apply for one of the many student grants awarded each year to work on solving a pressing problem at home or abroad

It can be easy to look the other way, especially when what you see is uncomfortable, but Owen decided not to do that; instead, he came up with strategies to do something about it. “The programs at the Center help you step back from the bubble of Deerfield and see the big picture. We’re so blessed to have these opportunities here, and we can use them to help others,” he says.

Owen’s experience is exactly what Chrissy Kopp is hoping students will have when they come through the Center’s doors. Kopp, who has served as global studies coordinator for the past two years, is quick to point out that sometimes one doesn’t have to traverse the globe to see a different side of it. “It depends on what your definition of travel is,” she says. “Having community service in this office helps teach us that traveling to Montague to work in a public school can be as much a cultural experience as going to Spain.” Traveling away from home and learning about the world around you is an essential ingredient in gaining leadership skills—how can one learn what makes the world work if you never see any of it? “But I don’t think travel has to be conflated with getting on a plane. Traveling outside your comfort zone—and sometimes leaning into discomfort—is something that’s important to all our programs, whether on campus or in Tanzania or a neighboring community.”

“We think about students’ goals and ask, ‘What are the soft and hard skills they’ll need?’” says Corcoran. “Public speaking skills are important—and so is being able to empathize. You need to be able to facilitate a group conversation, and you also need to be able to identify when your point is in conflict with someone else’s and then figure out how to move forward.” Giving students the tools to put an idea into action—which Miller describes as the Center’s raison d’être—is a large and complicated goal, involving a mix of the idealistic and the pragmatic.

“We’re thinking about how our students can understand the complexity of the world, but with an eye toward doing academic work,” Miller says. This is not simply a character-building exercise—students are doing their homework, literally and figuratively.

Global studies, community service, and sustainability all hinge upon being culturally attentive. No matter where you go, how much work you do when you get there, and how mindful of the environment you are in as you do it, if you don’t have buy-in from the community on the ground, your project is doomed. And that’s why work like this starts and ends with a vision for leadership—after all, if no one is going to join you in your work, not much will get done. So students are coming to the Center and learning how to write a grant proposal, prepare a good rhetorical argument, or inspire with a meaningful media project. “To be a leader in the 21st century, you have to understand systems and understand environmental change, and have the cultural competency to reach across difference and connect,” Miller says. “You have to have the skills not only to find a service opportunity, but to create one.”

It’s a particularly potent message for Deerfield students, who may aspire more than the average high school student to do ambitious things. Encouraging students to look at the big picture can help inspire them to take on big projects, but Corcoran points out that last fall the Center took a different, perhaps equally important approach. During a “day of service” for ninth graders, students took on small jobs around campus and town, and group leaders asked them to reflect on what leadership means. Thinking about leadership while picking up trash from the sidewalk? But that was the point.

“The thing we’ve been reinforcing all year long is how you can be a leader in a community that’s as small as the table you sit at in the Dining Hall,” Corcoran says. “Ninth graders had great responses like, ‘I want to help out the second waiter at my dining table.’ ‘I want to make sure my room is clean.’ That’s a small moment, for sure, but it’s also huge, because we’re asking students to redefine what leadership means.” Sure, there are traditional avenues for Deerfield students to take on formal leadership positions, but ultimately, the Center encourages taking a leading stance in daily life, and model what it means to be part of a community—no matter where you are. //





Deerfield Magazine Wins “Grand Gold”

June 9, 2016

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education has named Deerfield Magazine a grand gold award winner in its 2016 Circle of Excellence awards program. A panel of experts selected Deerfield’s entry in the Independent School Magazines category from among 50 entries.

In 2016, more than 710 higher education institutions, independent schools, and nonprofits worldwide submitted more than 3,350 entries for consideration in nearly 100 categories. Judges gave 331 awards: 103 bronze; 119 silver, 83 gold and 17 grand gold. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is one of the largest international associations of education institutions, serving more than 3,600 universities, colleges, schools, and related organizations in more than 80 countries. CASE is the leading resource for professional development, information, and standards in the fields of education fundraising, communications, marketing, and alumni relations.

Fall 2015 Deerfield Magazine

November 18, 2015

Spring 2015

November 6, 2015

The Spring 2015 Deerfield Magazine features stories about David Pond as he retires as Associate Head of School for Alumni Affairs and Development, Deerfield’s first ever TEDx event, and Jessica Harrison Fullerton ’00 and her goal to rid the world’s children of parasites. Read this edition online.

Magazine Features:

  • The Bottom Line: David Pond steps down after 34 years of extraordinary service to Deerfield.
  • The Pause and Effect: Of TEDx:  Deerfield hosts it’s inaugural TEDx event with students and faculty giving talks around the theme of “time”.
  • Scaling What Works: Alumna Jessica Harrison Fullerton ’00, associate director of the Deworm the World Initiative, discusses her business-oriented approach to solving social issues.

Also Inside: Multiple longtime faculty members retire, Director of College Advising Mark Spencer gives an update on standardized testing and the famous Reunion clambake is scaled down for your own back yard!

Winter 2015

November 6, 2015

The Winter 2015 Deerfield Magazine features stories about Deerfield’s new summer program, the Experimentory, a student trip to Colombia, and author Hannah Pittard ’97. Read this edition online.

Magazine Features:

  • The Experimentory: An innovative new summer program for seventh and eighth graders will launch in the summer of 2015.
  • ¡Cuestiónenlo Todo!:  Deerfield students travel to Colombia and learn how to ask the important questions.
  • The Write Life: Alumna Hannah Pittard ’97 discusses her recently published novel Reunion.

Also Inside: The girls squash program, Sam Skillings retires after 29 years, Angel Abreu ’92 curates the first outside exhibit in Deerfield’s new von Auersperg Gallery, and a recipe for the Dining Hall corn chowder.

Fall 2014

September 3, 2015

The Fall 2014 Deerfield Magazine features stories about a Deerfield trip to Tanzania,  Playing at Violence by Pacifique Irankunda ’09, and an update on the Imagine Deerfield campaign. Read this edition online.

Magazine Features:

  • Tanzania, Not as Pictured: Deerfield students travel to Tanzania and learn about real problems facing the world, and the real innovations that are required to solve them.
  • Playing at Violence: Reprinted from The American Scholar, Volume 82. No. 3, Summer 2013. Written by Pacifique Irankunda ’09 who moved to the United States from Burundi.
  • Lessons in Modern Philanthropy: An update on the Imagine Deerfield campaign and the extraordinary generosity demonstrated by alumni in the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Also Inside: Eric Widmer’s eulogy for Mr. Merriam, a Deerfield football report, an introduction to the new Dean of Advancement CJ Menard, and the recipe for the perennial Dining Hall favorite, apple crisp.

Making Dining Hall Apple Crisp

December 1, 2014

Spring 2014

May 15, 2014

The Spring 2014 Deerfield Magazine features stories about Philip Greer, the amazing reference the Library provides, and the American Frontiers course. Read this edition online.

Magazine Features:

  • THE Greer: Philip Greer, the Board of Trustees President, has had a monumental affect on Deerfield, from both seen and unseen areas. Greer has helped to enable Deerfield to become what it is today. 
  • Reference Point: How the Boyden Library and its librarians guide students through research. 
  • Dovetail’d: The course American Frontiers has been around for a couple of years connecting U.S. History Honors with English III.

Also Inside: Girls Varsity Crew, retiring faculty who have given so much to Deerfield, summer plans, the Physical Plant, and Xiaofeng Kelly’s expansion of the Chinese language and culture at Deerfield.

Winter 2014

January 15, 2014

The Winter 2014 Deerfield Magazine features stories about the art of successful collaboration, a new history science course, and the language department taking leaps in using technology in the classroom. Read this issue online.   

Magazine Features:

  • The Harmony of Contrary Motion: Mr. Nilsson analyzes the most effective forms of collaboration and how when used correctly it can produce amazing music.
  • Big History: Follow Conrad Pitcher and Heidi Valk  into a new course that spans multiple departments, from history to science. Allowing students the opportunity to go places bigger than they could have imagined.
  • Tabula Rasa: “‘Technology is a frightening tool, and the early word on it was that it was distraction, all thesenegative things, that it was taking away from our kids’ attention,’ admits Sam Savage, teacher of Latin and Spanish. ‘But the conversation is shifting: How can we harness it so it becomes a positive for education rather than a competing interest?'”

Also Inside: Dr. Esselstyn ’52 receives the Heritage Award, Sam Khalifa and Varsity Squash, the new dining hall menu, a student goes far and beyond the classroom, and Deerfield’s current finances.  

Fall 2013

September 15, 2013

The Fall 2013 Deerfield Magazine features stories about Mrs. Boyden’s letters, specialization in athletics, and Arts Center fundraising. Read the fall issue online.

Magazine Features:

  • Woman of Letters: A reflection on Mrs. Boyden, as revealed through her letters.
  • Line of Scrimmage: As competition for colleges intensifies, Deerfield must balance its mission to provide a well-rounded education with the growing trend of specialization.
  • An Extraordinary Foundation: The story behind funding the Arts Center, and a thank you to all donors.

Also Inside: Meeting the new Dean of Admission and other new faculty members, 3-D printing projects in “Show Your Work,” long-time groundsperson Jim Antone retires, Helen Childs Boyden Distinguished Chair in Teaching Sheryl Cabral, girls cross country chases its fourth consecutive undefeated regular season, and the extraordinary effort of one student to launch an online global tutoring website.

Spring 2013

May 15, 2013

The Spring 2013 Deerfield Magazine features stories about an important new capstone course, alumna Janie Merkel ’91 and her role as a biology researcher, and the development of our new Arts Center. Read the spring issue online.

Magazine Features:

  • Critical ElementsStudents in Deerfield’s new capstone course, Global H20 American Currents, tackle some of the world’s most difficult challenges.

  • Body of KnowledgeA couple of years ago three Yale undergrads and their classmates abandoned chilly New Haven in favor of a more tropical climate for spring break. Their destination had it all: lots of lush foliage, sandy beaches, warm waters, and at least 40,000 plant species… not your typical hot spot. But then again, these students weren’t typical spring breakers, and neither was their destination.

  • He(Art)Renovations on the Memorial Buildings underscore Deerfield’s commitment to the arts.

Also Inside: The contributions of the Morsmans, College Admissions, Reflections from Admission’s Corner Office, and Robert B. Crow Schoolmaster’s Chair Andrew Harcourt

Winter 2013

January 15, 2013

The Winter 2013 Deerfield Magazine features stories about the value of the Visual Arts, alumni Stephan Drake ’94 and his journey to build the perfect ski, and off-campus science research. Read the winter issue online.

Magazine Features:

  • Skeleton KeyThe role of the Visual Arts curriculum as a vital piece in a well-rounded Deerfield education.

  • The Science of Not KnowingHow do you figure out the answer when you’re not quite sure of the question? Deerfield students engage in off-campus scientific research.

  • Rocker Evangelist: Stephan Drake ’94, and the quest for the perfect ski.

Also Inside: Girls Hockey and J. Clement Schuler Distinguished Chair Robert Moorhead.

Fall 2012

September 15, 2012

The Fall 2012 Deerfield Magazine features stories about Deerfield’s new plan for sustainability, Deerfield’s performing arts directors preparing for a new year, and Charles McSpadden ’06 and his adventures in film production. See the Fall 2012 issue.

Magazine Features:

  • The Truth Behind the Trash: New Sustainability Coordinator Jeff Jewett leads the charge on a new sustainability action plan.
  • On CueWhether on campus or a continent away, Deerfield’s directors of performing arts stand ready for a new year.
  • The Pursued, the Pursuing, the Busy, and the Tired: Film production assistant Charles McSpadden ’06 reflects on his journey into film, including his work on Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.

Spring 2012

May 15, 2012

The Spring 2012 Deerfield Magazine features stories about Jonathan Harris ’98, Deerfield student’s summer programs, and the engineering of a well oiled school.  Read this edition online. 

Magazine Features:

  • An Ode to Code: “When Jonathan Harris stepped in front of an audience of 80 reporters and staffers in aNew York Times conference room one grey, drizzling afternoon in midtown Manhattan, he had an agenda: He planned to tell them what they were doing wrong, and how to fix it.”
  • SPF 12: Summer Program Fundamentals: “‘…my role was to come in and formalize the support and make it more uniform, that addresses the potential gap that exists for whether your parents know someone, or are connected or not. If your parents have a connection, that might be good for you; but now, if any science teachers at Deerfield have a connection, that will be good for all of our students.’ —Ivory Hills”
  • All Together Now“Dean of Faculty John Taylor seats himself in the conference room before anyone else arrives and quietly sips his mate. Many believe that drinking yerba mate is good for the soul, and can actually be a form of meditation or reflection—simultaneously resting and stimulating the mind. If this is true, then it’s a perfect time for mate, as one by one department chairs join him around the table for their weekly symposium, which is sure to include some intriguing conversation.”

Winter 2012

January 15, 2012

The Winter 2012 Deerfield Magazine features stories about robots teaching life lessons, Deerfield’s new Connect4 program, and an in-depth look at Deerfield’s Safety and Security.

Magazine Features:

  • The Crooked Line“Who’d have thought that inanimate robots could teach us so much about life?”
  • Roots and Wings“Just as students hone their math and writing skills in the classroom, the Connect4 program helps students hone their core values, ethics, and beliefs in the dorm room.”
  • On Call : “Readiness is their top game, and Deerfield students, faculty, and staff are safe because the department has thought ahead to the disasters that could happen…”

Also “Noble Shade”: Composed by Woodson Miles ’13 as his final project for Fundamentals of Music; it is an original composition, in four parts, melody with accompaniment. Senior Emlyn Van Eps is featured on both viola and violin. “Noble Shade” is available for listening.

Fall 2011

September 15, 2011

The Fall 2011 Deerfield Magazine features stories about Deerfield teachers’ trips all over the world, student financial aid, and relive with Mark Ott his memories of Deerfield’s old days. Read this edition online.

Magazine Features:

  • Far Beyond the Western Mountains“One of the first things I discovered upon arrival in Africa was that no van trip to a Deerfield athletic contest could hold a candle to the pandemonium that seemed to reign on the roads of Kenya.”
  • The Lens of Memory: “Deerfield Academy is not Paris, but it is, “Deerfield.” And if you are an alumnus, it, too, exists through the lens of your memory, where your younger self walks along Albany Road in the bright sunlight of spring…”
  • Private Equity“‘What the community lacks at times is diversity, and by that I don’t necessarily mean racial or gender diversity. I mean economic diversity. Providing that diversity may sound like a social justice initiative, but it’s not . . . It’s really about providing every student who comes here with a better education.’—Rob Hale ’84 P’15”

Spring 2011

May 15, 2011

The Spring 2011 Deerfield Magazine features stories about Dr. Little’s science class and their discoveries about the River, Valley, and Rock, and about one student’s journey in the study of Latin. Read this edition online. 

Magazine Features:

  • River/ Valley/ Rock: “Bedrock was squeezed upward to form theHimalaya-sized Appalachian Mountains. The compression and heat of these orogenic events transformed Deerfield’s deep bedrock into metamorphic rock types such as gneiss, schist, slate, and marble.”
  • Ellie and the Georgics“So far, though,the capstone course is still just an idea— partly for pragmatic reasons… We will have to find creative ways to fund people to oversee these projects. I’m excited, though, because a student like Ellie forces the conversation.”

Winter 2011

January 15, 2011

The Winter 2011 Deerfield Magazine features stories about the discoveries going on in Dennis Cullinane’s science class and Tom Ashley’s letters. Read this edition online.

Magazine Features:

  • Load Distributors“One morning a couple years ago, working quietly in the lab, Mia Hecht ’09 was dissecting a crab. She was hoping to find a clue to how non-vertebrates, such as arthropods, manage to lubricate their joints—a question that had always intrigued their instructor, Dennis Cullinane. Mia carefully popped open the exoskeleton of her crab and saw something she hadn’t seen before. And she couldn’t find it in her research materials, either. What’s this? she asked, turning to her teacher. Cullinane took a look. And thought, Oh, my…!”
  • As Ever, Tom Ashley“It is an unlikely story with an unusual beginning. When first noticed by Mr. Boyden, Tom Ashley was having too much fun to go to school. Swimming as early and often in the season as possible, fishing, hunting, and tending to chores, he was an awkward, reticent Old Deerfield farmboy who had an indifferent attitude toward education. Mr. Boyden detected something more in Tom’s character: honesty, loyalty, enthusiasm, resilience, and reliability.”

Also read more about Tom Ashley: in these articles from past issues “Thomas Williams Ashley” (1962) and “The Value of a Legend” (1990).

Fall 2010

September 15, 2010

The Fall 2010 Deerfield Magazine features stories about Amie Creagh’s study on Faculty kids, the miracles performed by the Physical Plant, and the trees that make up our community. Read this edition online. 

Magazine Features:

  • In Working Order: After students and faculty leave campus each spring, the summer days grow long indeed for Deerfield’s Physical Plant. In the narrow window between spring final examinations and fall’s opening days, they need to work miracles. And they do.
  • The Faculty Child: An informal study by Amie Creagh.
  • Deep Roots: Celebrating Deerfield’s living treasures. Trees.

Also Inside: Summer renovations, faculty summer projects, team Slovakia lacrosse, and new students and faculty.

Winter 2010

January 15, 2010

The Winter 2010 Deerfield Magazine features stories about Chris Waddell ’87 and his journey up Mount Kilimanjaro, and the modern version of community service. Read this edition online.

Magazine Features:

  • One Man, One Mountain, One Revolution: For over twenty years Chris Waddell ’87 has been proving what the poet William Blake wrote: Great things are done when men and mountains meet…
  • Community Service Re-Imagined: A tradition of service and its transformation in the present.

Also Inside: Head of School’s report, Dean of Faculty’s report, MLK day, and Robert Distinguished Chair Jan Flaska.

Fall 2009

September 15, 2009

The Fall 2009 Deerfield Magazine features stories about Deerfield’s 20th Anniversary of Coeducation, women employed by Mr. Boyden reflect, girls crew, and the life of Rev. Dick McKelvey. Read this edition online.

Magazine Features:

  • 50.6%: Looking Back, Looking Forward: Coeducation at Deerfield
  • Boyden’s Girls: Women employed by Mr. Boyden reflect on his legacy and coeducation
  • Ready All… Row: On Pace with Girls Crew, interviews with Deerfield’s rowers
  • A Life Well Lived: Remembering the life of Dick McKelvey

Also Inside: KIPP, International Independent Schools Public Speaking Competition (IISPSC), Student-Athletes, and the Koch Center’s new solar panels.