Coaches return to Dartmouth ready to make up for lost time

  • Dartmouth diving coach Chris Hamilton watches junior Mike Brown's technique during an early season practice at Alumni Gym's Karl Michael Pool in Hanover, N.H., on September 9, 2009. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Rich Parker tees off on the ninth hole at Lake Morey Country Club during the Vermont Open in Fairlee, Vt., Monday, June 19, 2017. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dan Roock (Dartmouth College Athletics photograph)

  • Chris Hamilton (Dartmouth College Athletics photograph)

  • Rich Parker (Dartmouth College Athletics photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/20/2021 7:47:44 AM
Modified: 2/20/2021 7:47:41 AM

HANOVER — Chris Hamilton was about half asleep when he learned that Dartmouth College would reinstate five teams to comply with Title IX, including his diving team.

Around 10 a.m. on the morning of Jan. 29, he received a phone call from one of his female divers asking if he had checked his email. Hamilton soon discovered the news and figured out the college would offer the right of first refusal to coaches who’d lost their jobs as a result of earlier program cuts.

Just hours before, he’d been working as a security guard at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, a gig he had picked up in mid-January.

On Wednesday, the Big Green announced it had rehired Hamilton, men’s golf coach Rich Parker and men’s lightweight rowing coach Dan Roock. The release confirmed women’s golf coach Alex Kirk and swim and dive coach Jamie Holder turned down their previous positions.

“I was excited and happy for the kids,” Hamilton said. “The day that Harry (Sheehy) read his letter to us, it was like a kick to the stomach. And I wrote on that day on Facebook that it felt like Groundhog Day all over again; it just happens to be 18 years later. When they announced they would be bringing all the teams back, I was excited about that.

“I was more angry that kids weren’t getting answers when they were asking questions. They weren’t getting anything; they might have well just transferred. The 21 years I’d been here, my thing was to make sure my athletes were happy. That’s where the anger came from.”

He worked this summer with his AAU program, Upper Valley Diving. The group of roughly 20 athletes worked out at Storrs Pond before moving to the CCBA’s Dwinell Pool in September.

Hamilton said he received two coaching offers within the first week of the program being cut but decided not to move anywhere until his daughter, Caroline, graduates from Hanover High.

July cuts weren’t the first for him. He has experience from the original cuts of Dartmouth swim and dive back in 2002. The only differences between then and now was the amount of time.

“We’re in a position of rebuilding twice as much as we did last time,” Hamilton said. “We were only gone for 34 days then. Regular decision was coming, so kids could still come. Now, when we got reinstated, we don’t have regular decision. It’s two different situations. It’s going to be a year in limbo without a freshman class this year or next year.”

Parker had recently agreed to start a golf school at the Northwood School, a boarding school in Lake Placid, N.Y., for grades 9-12, when the Jan. 29 decision was made.

He had some serious doubt, especially after what he had been through.

“There were reservations, the way we were treated,” he said. “It was tough on my family, my wife, my kids. I’m 61 years old, and all of a sudden they take away pretty much everything. Trying to figure out how you’re going to make it.”

But Parker was pulled back by the opportunity to win an Ivy League title, something he hasn’t accomplished in 16 years on the job. Parker came close, however, finishing second twice in the past four completed seasons. He will supervise the women’s golf team until a new coach is hired.

“I’m happy to be back,” said Parker, who thinks the Big Green will find its new home at either Montcalm Golf Club or The Quechee Club after the closing of Hanover Country Club last spring. “I’m sitting in my office trying to piece everything together. Not like you can just come in and pick everything up where you left off. A lot has happened, you know. Athletes coming and going, a change in leadership, just everything is a little different.

“We’re going to be behind a little bit here. It’s going to take us a while to catch up on the recruiting cycle; we probably missed a cycle and a half. Just to get my email back is a big deal, stuff like that. Listen, a lot of pondering going on.”

Roock was considering retirement when he received the news his lightweight rowing team was back. He was in his second stint with the college when the program was cut, returning in 2018 after working with the Craftsbury Green Racing Project. But the idea of returning to a team he loved being around brought him back.

“I really disagreed with the way the school went about meeting the requirements President Hanlon set for the cuts,” he said. “I don’t have hard feelings for the school, but I think this was a very misguided decision. I’m happy they brought the teams back.

“It’s exciting to be part of a fresh start.”

Pete Nakos can be reached at pnakos@vnews.com.




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