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By Alicia Nemiccolo MacLeay '97
When an arson fire destroyed much of Wadsworth Gymnasium in 1992, one of the casualties was Dick Whitmore's office overlooking the basketball court. Alterations made during renovations didn't allow for it to be rebuilt, so Whitmore, director of athletics and men's basketball coach, moved to a new office-with a view of the football field.
Assistant men's basketball coach Roy Dow '84 says Whitmore occasionally lamented the loss of his old vantage point. As Whitmore approached his 500th career win in the 1999-2000 season, "we knew we had to do something," Dow said.
He formed a committee of alumni players interested in honoring Whitmore. The plan was to do something both appropriate and practical. "Whit wouldn't want something useless and symbolic," Dow said. "It's not his style. He'd be much more interested in having something that would benefit the players."
The alumni group decided new men's and women's basketball locker rooms and coaches' offices would be a fitting way to recognize Whitmore's career, since locker room space is at a premium. The men's team currently shares space with the football team.
Several plans with varying price tags were drawn up by architects. At the annual alumni game last fall, the committee briefed other alumni on the project and announced a fund-raising goal of $600,000. Fund-raiser Jim Crook '78 called for 100-percent participation from everyone who played for Whitmore. Dow says it didn't matter how much anyone gave-it was about participation.
In January the project went public and responses were immediate. Harold (L.H.D '80), Bibby (Levine '38) and Bill ('72) Alfond were among the supporters of the project. "Without their generosity and leadership the project would not have reached the necessary level," Dow said. Contributions from alumni players (both during and before Whitmore's career) and friends of the coach put the group near its fund-raising goal by February, with about 90 percent of alumni players participating. Dow said fund raising for Whitmore was easy given the respect the coach has earned over his 30 years at Colby.
"The passion of my life is Colby men's basketball," said Whitmore. "I'm blessed to have worked with amazing groups of people over the past three decades."
Dow says Whitmore is excited for the players but hates the attention associated with the project: "He would never ask for something like that for himself."
The current two-level design located between the gymnasium and the hockey rink is slated for construction starting this fall. It includes men's and women's locker rooms on the lower level and basketball offices above, facing the court.
Whitmore says the involvement of so many of his players and Colby basketball supporters is appreciated. "I am totally grateful," he said. "The job that Roy Dow did in putting the pieces together is one of the most thorough and caring efforts I have ever seen."
Whitmore will move into his new digs this winter.
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College Colby Magazine 4181
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