Before The Beavers return to greatness, CCNY honors its champions of the past while City begins to make big strides forward on the court and field.
If you would’ve told me that CCNY won often in the fairly recent past, I may believe it. The rest of the college community outside of the athletics department may not, but at least there’s one person on the campus atop the hill on 137th and Convent Ave. that would believe CCNY was, at one point in time, a solid, successful sports school.
Keep in mind when a majority of that overall success was going on, gas was about $2 per gallon, YouTube was just barely becoming a thing along with the advancement of the internet (which was dial-up back then) and the only smartphones on the market were the Sidekick and the Blackberry and if you had one you were cool and the other you were a successful businessman.
But as we go into the Beaver regime of the future under new athletic director Dr. Kevin Abdur-Rahman, we are seeing that City can be the successful athletic school that it once was. Heck, if it happened once upon a pre-Twitter time, it can definitely happen again.
On Friday night, 28 CCNY CUNYAC Championship teams dating back as far as the 2000 Men’s Volleyball team and as recent as the 2014 Men’s Outdoor Track & Field team who’ve won the previous four straight CUNYAC titles.
However that was just the undercard on the night. Dr. Rahman unveiled five new banners inside the Nat Holman Gymnasium, honoring the first retired City greats hoping that those retired jerseys will inspire the scholar-athletes of City future.
Four of the members were from the Women’s Track and Field teams of 2007 and 2008 — Mechelle Barnwell, Alecia Watson, Sharnalee Stewart and Jodyann Raymond — all of who were numerous All-Americans during their collegiate career, all combining to form a two-time National Champion 4 x 100 meter relay team.
“It’s awesome,” Raymond said. “When I walked into the gym it brought back so many memories.
“When you’re in the moment, you’re training and you’re having all of these experiences with your friends you don’t realize that you’re doing some thing great, you’re creating history. And, now I have my jersey in the gym. It’s awesome. It’s overwhelming. I will be smiling for a long time.”
The stage and spotlight shined brightest when Lauren Cargill’s name was called.
The former Women’s Basketball star is CUNY’s all-time leading scorer, racking a total of 2,272 points during her City career from 1999-2003, a total that is not only the most ever in City history in men’s and women’s hoops combined.
“It’s an honor,” Cargill mentioned. “When you finally get these it definitely wakes you up and you realize ‘oh my God, I really did do that.’
“When I was here practicing for countless hours I always said ‘one day I’m going to have my name on the wall’ and it’s there! So hard work definitely paid off because it’s big as day and you definitely can’t miss it.”
It’s sad that it took City this long to begin to recognize its champions of past, teams that made the school proud on the court or field. This is something that Dr. Rahman is visibly trying to change and the athletic department’s “Catching Up with the Past” night along with the big banners in the gym were the biggest first steps to bringing City back to the athletic relevance it once was.
That’s not to say City is still fully rebuilding. It’s more so reinforcing the new foundations.
Both Track & Field teams have been dominant during the decade while the Women’s fencing team has made significant strides throughout the past year and a half. Women’s volleyball fought their way into the CUNYAC semis for the first time since 2012 and both soccer programs have been perennial playoff contenders throughout the past few years as well, both making an appearance in the CUNYAC final in the last two years (Men’s team losing in 2013, Women’s team winning in 2012).
It’s only a matter of time before City becomes the dominant sports school it once was about a decade ago.
But the only thing that can be said about the steps being taken to get the Beavers back to the top is: it’s about damn time.