The Ivy Influence
Since 2004, the Ivy League Sports Office has run Black History month features on the league website during the month of February. This month, the League has taken a deeper look into “The Ivy Influence.” Through a collection of “Did You Know?” informational pieces, the League has highlighted individuals who have had an influence, both directly and indirectly, on the fabric of the conference’s storied history of African-American student-athletes, coaches and administrators.
So far this month, the Ivy League has done features on the following track and field/cross country alumni:
- Kwaku Ohene-Frempong (Yale, ’70) was a hurdler and jumper for the Bulldogs who also competed for Ghana in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. While he was a talented athlete, his greatest focus was on his studies as he turned down a chance to compete in the 1968 Summer Olympics in order to continue with his college work. Ohene-Frempong went on to study at the Yale School of Medicine while working at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana. He ultimately turned his focus to sickle cell anemia research, becoming a world reknown specialist and founding many sickle cell research centers around the world.
- Patricia Melton (Yale, ’82) has run pretty much every event between the 100m and 800m, but has found the greatest amount of success in opening schools in urban areas across the country. She now serves as a dean of instruction at one of the nation’s most progressive early college high schools and consults on school initiatives for the underserved and low-income urban high school students. She is the director of X-Mester, an early college summer residential experience on the campus of Vincennes University in Vincennes, Ind., for rising high school seniors. But perhaps, her greatest accomplishment is being one of the co-founders of HepsTrack.com.
- Dr. Deborah Saint Phard (Princeton, ’87) (see right) set many throwing records during her undergraduate career (she still has the indoor all-time shot put record) and has remained active in sports through pyschological studies of women in athletics. Dr. Saint Phard found a direct correlation between athletic ability and confidence within the athletes but not for the non-athletes. She founded the Colorado University Women’s Sports Medicine Program in 2002 and has served as its director since its inception. Her goal is to use her athletic background along with her medical expertise to teach women and girls the proper way to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Meredith Rainey-Valmon (Harvard, ’90) was the first Ivy Leaguer to win an individual NCAA championship and continued to compete professionally until 2000. Outside of her running career, Rainey Valmon worked with her husband, Maryland coach Andrew Valmon, to found the Avenue Program, which works to develop the educational, vocational and emotional skills necessary to improve the lives of underprivileged children. Several former Ivy League athletes also work with the Avenue Program, including former Columbia fencing All-American Bob Cottingham, former Penn Olympian Randy Cox and former Brown runner Julia Stevenson.
A complete list of the feature content can be found at the Ivy League Sports website.
For more features related to Ivy League track and field/cross country alumni, check out the section available on this website. Many of these bios were originally written from former Ivy League Black History month features.