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The University Magazine

Sports experience brings life-long benefits

Former student athletes say athletics shaped their lives - sometimes in surprising ways

Sue Pail
Sue Pail '98

All about teamwork

Suzanne Traynor Pail ’98 (mechanical engineering) played soccer, softball, hockey and tennis at RIT, maintained a 3.56 grade point average and graduated with B.S. and M.S. degrees. She went to work for IBM as an engineer and took a leave of absence last year to manage Closet Factory, a business she and her husband, Michael Pail ’98 (electrical engineering) launched in Raleigh, N.C.

“Sports gets you involved with people outside your major, and when you get out in the business world, you have to work and network with all kinds of people. In sports, everyone has to pull their weight, and that’s true in the real world. You can’t accomplish your goals unless everyone performs.”

Richard Herbert
Richard Herbert '85

Moments to remember

Ritchie Herbert ’85 (photography) says playing hockey at RIT shaped his life. He’ll never forget the 1985 national championship. When the team returned from Schenectady after defeating Union 3-2 in the semifinal and Bemidji State (Minnesota) 5-1 in the final, the bus was greeted by a huge crowd. Herbert was later interviewed by Bryant Gumbel on NBC’s Today show.

“Coach (Bruce) Delventhal said ‘This is an experience you will remember all your life,’ ” says Herbert, who went on to play professional hockey in Europe until 1998, and now lives in Ingolstadt, Germany, where he works as a free-lance photographer. The memories of the championship remain vivid. “It’s almost like yesterday.”

David Egan
David Egan '62

Great role models

When David Egan ’62 (business administration) was wrestling at RIT, opponents included Cornell, Syracuse University, Pittsburgh, Bucknell and Lycoming. The RIT team and Egan did well, “because we had an outstanding coach, Earl Fuller.”

Egan also credits his coach at Spencerport (N.Y.) High, Leo Bernabi, with teaching life lessons as well as athletics skills.

“My dad died when I was 8,” says Egan, “so that made a difference.”

Egan went on to serve as a an assistant coach to the RIT wrestlers – and a career in law. He has been a New York State Supreme Court Justice since 2000. Egan says the most important lesson those mentors taught was “to build a house brick by brick, point by point, to start from the basics and build slowly. There’s no overnight success.”

Karen Conlan
Karen Conlan '98

Reduces stress, increases success

Karen Provinski Conlan ’96 (mathematics) excelled in academics and on the basketball court. Named Senior Athlete of the Year in 1996, she was an Academic All-American and won an Ellingson Award for academic excellence by a student-athlete. At graduation, she was chosen to represent the senior class and spoke at convocation and commencement.

“I feel that athletics almost enhances your coursework,” says Conlan. “It is another outlet for stress, another way to make friends, another way to have success while in school. Another way to be recognized.”

In her career as an IT professional for Dupont, she’s discovered another advantage. “When co-workers hear I played basketball in college, they look at me with another level of respect,” Conlan says. “It is something to talk about in job interviews.”

Sean Bratches
Sean Bratches '84

Competitive edge

“Having sports as a vocation and avocation has really worked out for me,” says Sean Bratches ’84 (business administration), executive vice president of sales and marketing for ESPN. “I’ve had a front row ticket not only of ESPN but the world of sports,” says Bratches, who joined the cable sports network in 1988.

Bratches, who played lacrosse at RIT, mentions time management, teamwork and leadership skills among the important lessons learned on the playing field. Honing a competitive spirit is another.

“When you get down to brass tacks, everything is measured in the world,” he says. “On the field, there is a winner and a loser. I hate to lose, on the field or in business.”

“Coach Bill Tierney said one thing that I use every day in business: ‘One bad pass breeds another.’ It means you have a game plan and you execute it flawlessly. If you have one bad pass , you have to recover your rhythm, you lose your momentum, your competitor gains an advantage. That can be critical.”

Kristine Brassie
Kristine Brasie '99

Winners never quit

Kristine Pierce Brassie ’99 (hospitality and service management) scored her biggest win off the sports field. Diagnosed with Hodgkins disease in 1997, she underwent six months of treatment and returned to RIT and hockey and immersed herself with helping others. In 1999, she became the first woman and the first person in Division III to win the national Humanitarian Award.

“I played to be part of something,” says Brassie. “Am I competitive? Absolutely,” she says. “I don’t know if you’re born with it, but as a female on a boys’ team, or a female in a boys’ sport, you’re always striving. I don’t think that’s always a good thing, but I think you accomplish a lot more.”

Brassie, who coached women’s hockey at Mercyhurst College for several years, is busy building a new team. She and her husband have four children, ages 4, 3, 2 and 1.