VARSITY TEAMS: 33 INTRAMURAL SPORTS: 19
FAMOUS ALUMNI: JOHN ELWAY, JANET EVANS, TIGER WOODS
EXTRA CREDIT FOR: ENVIRONMENTALLY CORRECT TREE MASCOT
This is an article from the April 28, 1997 issue
Vin Lananna is walking taller these days, as befits a man who
has unshouldered a heavy burden. "Let me tell you," says
Lananna, who coached Stanford's men's and women's cross-country
teams to NCAA championships--Lananna's first--last fall. "It's
tough walking around here if you haven't won a national title."
You feel so alone. At the new $22 million Arrillaga Family
Sports Center, which houses the offices of most of the
Cardinal's coaches, you can't sneeze without some
NCAA-championship-winning coach saying gesundheit. Of Stanford's
73 national team titles, a stunning 24 have been won in this
decade. "Look at Dick Gould, our men's tennis coach," says
women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer. "He has 14
championship rings. He's off his fingers and onto his toes."
VanDerveer, the 1996 U.S. Olympic coach, is no slacker: She has
led her team to five Final Fours and won two titles.
What's the secret of attracting and retaining superb coaches?
Lananna, who came to Palo Alto from Dartmouth four years ago,
provides a hint: "I don't miss scraping ice off my windshield."
Adds athletic director Ted Leland, "Our coaches don't have to
get a kid out of bed in the morning, don't have to make sure the
kid goes to class." Last year, of 875 athletes, none had to go
to summer school to maintain their eligibility.
In Leland's office is a copy of Rodin's statue The Athlete. This
guy looks like The Thinker, but with bigger biceps. Here at
Stanford, Leland mentions offhandedly, "we have the
second-largest Rodin collection in the world."
They would. Plenty of things about the school suggest an
embarrassment of riches--from its 49 Atlanta Olympians to
excerpts like this from the club-sports directory: "The Stanford
Polo Club offers avid riders the opportunity to learn & compete
in the thrilling sport of polo." (That's horse polo, as opposed
to water polo, a varsity sport in which the Cardinal has won
eight NCAA crowns.) We learn this about the ski club: "Our
season begins in late December with a week-long, on-snow
training camp at our cabin in the Lake Tahoe area." What,
doesn't every college have its own ski chalet?
It would be petty, however, to begrudge the Cardinal downhillers
their apres-ski massage and hot tub. Once they have toweled down
and fixed themselves a nice hot toddy, they must hit the books.
"Stanford is not for everyone," says VanDerveer. "But it's a
great fit for a person looking for what I call the ultimate
challenge--someone who is extremely talented and motivated both
academically and athletically."
At Stanford the truly ultimate challenge is getting across
campus without bumping into an Olympian or an NCAA champion.