Photo Credit – Rick Andrews
Sometimes smaller is better; truly better if you're a "Ford" under the tutelage of one of the greatest Track and Field distance coaches the United States has ever known.
Tampa Jesuit harrier Jordan Schilit is one of those fortunate hard-working but not immensely talented distance runners who will shortly train under the watchful eye of a Coach with 62 regional and conference championships during a tenured career that started 34 years ago and shows no sign of abating. His future Coach's resume reflects credit for 113 All-American athletes of whom 24 ultimately became NCAA champions. This Coach knows how to "mold teams of decent but not exceptional high school athletes into elite college runners."
No, Jordan isn't being reincarnated into past lore and heading to Fayetteville to run for the now retired John McDonnell at Arkansas, but instead to Division III Haverford College to train and compete for another Coach of Irish descent and lineage whom many have called the "Greatest of Coaches; Coach Tom Donnelly and his "Fords of Haverford".
With a student body the size of some High School senior classes, Haverford's 1,169 students are a rare combination of diminutive excellence both athletically and academically. They are so well known academically, that US News and World Report ranks Haverford 10th in the nation for small colleges who matriculate at least 50% of their students with degrees in Liberal Arts field of studies.
The academic prowess of the distance runners at Haverford especially in recent times simply can't be matched. Coach Donnelly's Men's cross country team has been honored as National All-Academic Team recipients 2 years "running" and will be looking to 3-peat next season.
Consider these other academic and athletic accolades from the 2007-2008 season:
Men's outdoor track & field team won its 16th straight Centennial Conference title.
Women's outdoor track & field team claimed its third-straight Centennial Conference Championship.
Men's indoor track & field won its 14th Centennial Conference title in 15 years.
Men's cross country won its 15th consecutive Centennial Conference Championship and placed second at NCAA Division III Championships.
Women's indoor track & field won its third consecutive Centennial Conference Championship and fourth in the last five years.
For Jordan, being accepted to attend Haverford is a dream come true and he states, "he is thrilled to now be part of this excellent tradition." As cross-country Captain, first team All-State, President of the Tigers National Honor Society, a member of the schools Spanish and Social Studies Honor Societies, and editor-in-chief of "Lyre", the schools highly acclaimed annual literary publication, Jordan should fit right in at Haverford and continue furthering Haverford's values of individual dignity, academic strength, and tolerance. The fact he gets to run for Coach Donnelly is truly icing on the cake and for those of you attending the FACA Clinic this week, seek out Coach Marcus O'Sullivan of Villanova and bend his ear on just how fortunate he was to have Coach Donnelly in his corner as Coach and mentor over the years.
Coach Donnelly is so fascinating and his impact on generations of "Fords" so immense, that the New York Times felt compelled to write a feature article on his legacy as a Cross-Country and Track and Field Coach and teacher, that it's easy to see the reason why Haverford was Jordo's first choice for college.
With Jesuit's motto being "Men for others" and adhering to such values as honor, individual dignity, tolerance, awareness of the greater good, and contributing to society; sometimes smaller is better if it provides the "perfect balance and opportunity to reach and possibly exceed all of these goals."
It will be interesting to follow Jordan's accomplishments at Haverford over the next few years and hopefully with a little luck of the Irish and some good old-fashioned hard work he will be well on his way to his stated goal; to be part of a team's national championship, and to be recognized as both an All-American and Academic All-American runner.
3200 Meter Run - 9:45.00
5000 Meter Run - 15:47.00