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When Fun's the Focus

Over the years, we've heard now and again from a vocal group of readers who say, "We want more sports!" Arguably, they've had a point. Though we've run our share of sports-related feature stories — on the men's fencing program, for instance, and women's basketball — and news stories when teams have particularly stellar seasons, we haven't chronicled the university's varied athletics program with any comprehensiveness.

It's a story that deserves to be told. At a university well known — deservedly or not — for its "cutthroat" premeds, a university that this spring had seven students awarded Fulbright scholarships (count 'em, seven!), it's heartening to know that hundreds of students are letting loose and having fun on the field and in the stands, thanks to Johns Hopkins athletics.

A mid-1970s matchup between the arch rival Johns Hopkins Blue Jays and the Maryland Terrapins We found out just how much fun when we set out to report this special issue. While senior writer Dale Keiger was hunkered down with the men's lacrosse team in the week leading up to its historic 100th game against arch rival University of Maryland, and senior writer Maria Blackburn was shadowing women's lacrosse coach Janine Tucker and her lady laxters, associate editor Catherine Pierre and I went behind the scenes with art director Shaul Tsemach on the daylong photo shoots for "Join the Club!" What a treat it was to chat with student athletes who are as passionate about playing badminton and ultimate frisbee as they are about studying gene splicing and Immanuel Kant. Thanks to our mini-tutorial with rugby players like Tony "Balls" Dambro, we now know the difference between a "scrum" and a "ruck." And we've gained a whole new appreciation for the intricate strategies involved with avoiding a "hit" in paintball.

The genesis for this issue actually came more than a year ago, when Jeff Labrecque, A&S '95, approached us about doing a profile of Hopkins baseball coach Bob Babb, A&S '74. Jeff, now a reporter for Entertainment Weekly, had pitched for four years under Babb and was eager to tell the story of the winningest coach in Hopkins history — who also happens to be one of the nicest guys around. We were hooked. With that assignment in place, and with predictions of standout seasons for a variety of Hopkins teams in 2003-2004 (including football, field hockey, swimming, baseball, and men's and women's lacrosse) floating in the air, we decided the time had finally come for a special issue celebrating the sportier side of Johns Hopkins. We hope you enjoy this departure from our more usual editorial fare of research breakthroughs and Nobel laureates. At the very least, you'll finish this issue knowing what it means to "run down a huck" in ultimate frisbee.

My heartfelt thanks to all of you who responded to our request last issue for your financial support of the magazine. (For those who haven't yet, there's still time!) Equally as gratifying as your financial support are the notes of encouragement you've sent along — notes like this one, from a reader in Georgia: "Although not an alum of J.H., I read every issue avidly, wishing all the while I'd attended." And this one, from a physician in Tokyo: "Being far away from the Homewood campus where I studied about 40 years ago, nothing else gives me the strong feeling that I am still on the campus and am still bound to Hopkins than the magazine!" Please, keep the dialogue going. Your comments and constructive criticism are the best gauge we have of knowing whether we're hitting the mark.

In the realm of college and university magazines, it would appear that our writing is hitting the mark. This spring, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) awarded Johns Hopkins Magazine a 2003 gold medal in staff writing. The CASE judging panel praised the magazine for its "willingness to tackle difficult issues" and singled out last June's cover story on the undergraduate experience ("Not-So-Great Expectations," by Dale Keiger) as a piece "forthcoming and unwavering in [its] self-analysis."

-Sue De Pasquale

Return to June 2004 Table of Contents

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