(By Karl Ortegon ’18)
Gretchen Millspaugh Cooney ’83, who played field hockey and swam at Wesleyan in the late ’70s and early ’80s, recently returned home to Philadelphia after competing at the Ironman World Championships in Hawai’i. The race is synonymous with a super triathlon: swim 2.4 miles, hop on your bike and cycle through 112 miles of terrain, and finish it off with a 26.2-mile marathon. No breaks.
For the World Championships, one can only compete by first racing in a qualifying Ironman prior, and going fast enough at the qualifier to secure one of a few slots designated for one’s age group and gender. Cooney claimed her spot at the Ironman Maryland in 2016 to punch her ticket to Kona for this fall’s World Championship.
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Bill Belichick ’75
Bill Belichick ’75, head coach of the New England Patriots, led his team to the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history on Feb. 5, beating the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 34-28 in OT—the first time an overtime period was ever needed in the 51-year history of the NFL’s annual championship game. The win made Belichick the winningest coach in Super Bowl history. All five of Belichick’s wins have come as head coach of the Patriots, a team he has coached since 2000.
Beginning his NFL career as an assistant coach with the Baltimore Colts in 1975, Belichick moved to the Detroit Lions in 1976, remaining there for two seasons before spending a year in the Denver Broncos organization before moving on the the New York Giants in 1979. In 1991 he was named the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, and also coached for the New York Jets before becoming head coach of the Patriots in 2000. He earned his 200th regular season victory as a head coach after the Patriots’ 30-7 win at Minnesota on Sept. 14, 2014. He became the sixth NFL head coach to reach that mark.
At Wesleyan, Belichick was a football, squash and lacrosse letterwinner, serving as a team captain for the 1975 lacrosse squad, He majored in economics.
Returning to Middletown for Commencement in May, 2002,Belichick received Wesleyan’s Raymond E. Baldwin Medal, the highest honor awarded by the alumni body for extraordinary service to the University and to the public interest. He also spoke to a group of prospective students and their parents during WesFest in April, 2004 and stayed to watch his daughter Amanda ’07 play in a women’s lacrosse game. During Wesleyan’s 2005 Commencement, Belichick received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater and in May, 2008, he became one of the inaugural members of Wesleyan’s newly established Athletics Hall of Fame.