Aliceann Wilber P'13 is surprised by a celebratory bath of Gatorade after reaching her
400th career win in 2009. She now holds 535 wins, earning her first place on the
NCAA Division III Women’s Soccer all-time list. Also caught in the spray is Professor
of Political Science Kevin Dunn who serves as the Faculty-Athletic Fellow for the Heron
Soccer team, President Mark D. Gearan and retired Head Lacrosse Coach Pat
Genovese P'01, P'03, P'05, P'08.

Congratulations, Gratitude and a Healthy Dose of Gatorade

by Aliceann Wilber P’13

It was late October this past fall and the Herons had just secured the Liberty League Soccer Championship. President Gearan came across Cozzens Field to stamp the event with his unique combination of both institutional and sincerely personal congratulations. With a trace of thinly veiled sarcasm that came from the context of the occasion, I asked him if he would like to speak to the team “one last time.” Against this backdrop of finality I was recalling the first time that President Gearan addressed Heron Soccer. We had just won something significant; the girls were milling around as they do after a game and I gathered them in to listen to our President speak to their accomplishment. I felt I was witnessing the gears spinning in his head as he searched for comments most appropriate for athletic achievement. I remember thinking “He is out of his element! He doesn’t know what to say to them.”

Since then I have learned that President Gearan is a very gifted speaker. I have heard all but one of his commencement speeches and listened to him on countless occasions over these past 18 years. I have enjoyed seeing how the cadence of his remarks, his usage of inflection, and his employment of rhetorical techniques like tricolon add to the messages he conveys. But what I find most striking is his ability to spontaneously incorporate and synthesize into his own remarks the essence of those speakers who preceded him. That is a remarkable talent that adds incredible impact to his connections to the audience before him, whether soccer players, alumni or community leaders. (He’s taught me how to use a tricolon!)

From that first soccer team address to the present, President Gearan has walked across many different athletic surfaces, been splashed with Gatorade on occasion, and delivered the right words to signify the meaningful lessons of our athletes and their accomplishments. He’s come a long way, baby!

And how about his skill with the challenges of hospitality expectations? I am mindful of the inordinate amount of wining and dining that accompanies his position. With a graciousness that many leaders could not summon, President Gearan has ignored the “inordinate” and embraced the challenge of these occasions. It’s a wonder the man doesn’t weigh 300 pounds! His support and attendance at the Colleges’ functions has been matched by participation in initiatives and events far beyond his role as president. President Gearan is a truly singular figure within the Geneva community. I have seen him at Geneva events in which he had no specific family involvement or a direct college connection. I recall a sleepinducing, parochial fundraising dinner in a neighboring community that I was asked to participate in, an event seemingly without an end, and President Gearan was steadfastly engaged in it until its merciful conclusion.

At another recent fundraising event my husband and I attended, we bid on and won “A Dinner with Mark and Mary Gearan.” “This will be fun,” we thought. Then the auctioneer announced that we had gotten a great bargain. Just the week before, he said, another “Dinner with Mark and Mary Gearan” had gone for double the price. “Poor Mark and Mary,” I thought. “Do they never get to dine alone?!”

So, President Gearan – I’ll take one dinner off your plate! Maybe just play us a tune on the piano and we’ll call that good enough? Just one last time…

“To say that President Gearan has cultivated athletics at HWS would be an understatement. There’s a winning culture at Hobart and William Smith and he works hard to sustain it. In my four years here, any time we’ve identified a competitive disadvantage or asked for challenging improvements, his focus has always been on what’s best for our student athletes.” —Greg Raymond, Head Hobart Lacrosse Coach


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.