Emory’s journey from “no sports” to championships

August 4, 2012 | Print This Post Print This Post

There is no shortage of enthusiasm for our Emory Eagles!

In the annals of Emory University, sporting events on campus have undergone a noteworthy evolution. The David Hughes Duke documentary Wise Heart explores, in part, this changing landscape of Emory athletics.

Emory’s early sporting days

Tim Downes, W. Clyde Partin Sr. Director Athletics and Recreation at Emory University, recalls an often-repeated Emory Board of Trustees edict in the early days of our history: “Emory will never have intercollegiate athletics.”

Despite student petitions and outright begging, the university would not budge on its stance to allow intercollegiate competition. In the early days, Emory “sponsored an athletic program, but it was largely intramurals, and they were always ones that carried lifelong benefits,” Downes explains in the film. “It wasn’t until 1985 that we found a group of schools we felt comfortable competing with athletically because they shared a similar philosophy with academics and athletics. We started our athletics program. This is an affiliation that’s formed strictly on academic and athletic philosophy.”

At the dedication ceremony last September, Zahra Dawson 12C, a former member of the women’s team from Ft. Washington, MD, (pictured above) talked about the significance of the new grandstand to Emory tennis. Dawson helped lead the Eagles to a third-place finish at the NCAA Division III Championships in 2012.With a 3.81 grade point average as an Applied Mathematics major, Dawson is an NCAA Postgraduate Scholar, and will be attending medical school at the University of Michigan in the Fall.

Today, more than one hundred years later, Emory Athletics has built a fine tradition of teamwork, dedication and excellence, with a robust program of intramural club sports and  intercollegiate varsity teams in 18 sports that have earned fourteen NCAA Division III championships and 151 University Athletics Association (UAA) Conference championships. The program has developed thousands of student athletes. As the Emory Athletics website notes, “A further testament to the academic excellence demonstrated by Emory student athletes is the fact that the university has been awarded 76 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships over the school’s history, with the 59 awarded since 2000 the second-highest total by any NCAA member.”

Pictured left to right: Michael Kaminsky 89C and his daughters, Katie, Taylor, and Charlie, cut the ribbon for the new Michael Kaminsky Intramural Park.

The athletics program continues to grow

Physical improvements to sporting facilities continue to be made on campus through generous donations to Campaign Emory. Three years of fundraising resulted in the addition of a new tennis grandstand.

In addition, last year the generous gift of Michael J. Kaminsky provided Emory with the opportunity to  enjoy use of the Michael J. Kaminsky Intramural Park. Emory’s new Michael Kaminsky Intramural Park was dedicated September 24, 2011, during Homecoming weekend, and Kaminsky was honored for his support of athletics at Emory. An honors graduate who was active in intramural sports as a student, Kaminsky 89C  gave $1 million to improve the fields and facilities and establish an endowment for the intramural program.

 Tune in tomorrow to learn more about Emory University’s history and legacy of philanthropy. “The Wise Heart: The Story of Emory University” will air again on Atlanta’s public broadcasting television network WPBA 30.

Sunday August 5, 9 p.m.

DVDs of “The Wise Heart” are available for sale at the Barnes & Noble at Emory Bookstore, retailing at $14.99 with a 20 percent discount with an Emory ID. Emory organizations interested in bulk purchases may contact wiseheart@emory.edu with a SmartKey account number, quantity and delivery address.

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