The Last Word - Spring 2012
When I first heard about Cory Weissman’s heartwarming story I knew I wanted to write about it for the Philadelphia Daily News. Pitching the story to the Daily News sports editor, I said I’d want to write it if it were any college. But since Cory is a Gettysburg student, it was much closer to my heart.
Before speaking with Cory, I wasn’t sure how the conversa-tion would go. In my experience, sometimes small-college athletes aren’t accustomed to being inter-viewed. The good news is, Cory was terrific. He relayed in detail his feelings about his rehab and his big moment vs. Washington College, when he scored his first collegiate point. (See page 26.) Following thephone conversation, my wife Barbara complimented Cory by telling me, “I’ve never heard you so quiet during an interview.”
This was the Daily News lead: “Tired of reading negative stories involving big-time collegiate athletics? A special moment occurred during a recent Division III men’s basketball game that restores one’s faith that there still are really good people at the collegiate level.”
I think the story resonated with the media because this is what collegiate athletics should be about: competition mixed with compassion. Division III athletes are just as serious about their sports as more publicized Division I athletes, but at the D-III level, sports aren’t a job.
I remember during a pro football strike CBS Sports planned to televise a D-III game with their lead NFL team, Pat Summerall and John Madden. Interviewing Madden for his thoughts on the assignment, I sensed he wasn’t happy about it. I informed Madden that I’m a Gettysburg graduate and told him that D-III athletes play just as hard as their D-I counterparts. I said the games mean as much to Gettysburg athletes as they do to Alabama and Louisiana State athletes.
I’m not saying a Cory story couldn’t happen at D-I schools. But it’s more likely to happen at the small-college level where there is a more congenial atmosphere. Playing basketball for a Big East Conference school is almost like a full-time job. With all the games, practices, and travel, I wonder how these players ever have time to study. At most quality D-III schools like Gettysburg, academics are the top priority with athletics in a complementary role.
The gesture by Washington Coach Rob Nugent, having one of his players foul Cory in the last minute of the game, giving him a chance to score his first collegiate point, is above and beyond what many coaches would do.
An email from Gettysburg Athletics Director David Wright to Washington College officials perfectly summarized the moving scene: “On behalf of the Gettysburg College community I want to thank you for creating an atmosphere of outstanding sportsmanship at Washington College. Rob Nugent, along with his coaching staff and student-athletes, displayed a measure of compassion that I have never witnessed in over 30 years of involvement in intercollegiate athletics.”
Bullets Coach George Petrie has the utmost respect for Cory: “I can’t remember ever hearing him complain. He apologized for not doing enough for the team. (While he rehabbed) he mentored the younger kids.”
Cory’s father Marc is a veterinarian, his mother Tina a physical therapist. After seeing how therapists helped him recover, Cory now wants to be a PT. He’s already thought what he would tell patients who complain about their recovery process: “Look where I’ve been and where I am today.”
Tina Weissman says her family is very pleased with the care and support Cory received at Gettysburg. “At a huge university I don’t know how they would’ve handled it,” she said. “When we were told Cory was being taken to Hershey Medical Center we didn’t know where Hershey was — we’re New Yorkers. When Cory was ready to return to school, I was skeptical about sending him back, but there was no stopping him. He was going back.”
Regarding the media attention for Cory, Tina said, “We’re so happy for him to have his efforts recognized. He worked so hard.”
Cory’s story — and a recent video in which Eli Manning, quarterback of the Super Bowl-champion New York Giants, delivers news of a full Gettysburg scholarship to Osiris Duarte ‘15 of New York City — are terrific publicity for the College. We should all enjoy Cory’s story, wish him well, and be grateful for the smart, caring people at Gettysburg who are guiding our students and athletes.
By Bill Fleischman ’60
Bill Fleischman ‘60, a longtime sports writer with the Philadelphia Daily News, taught in the University of Delaware’s journalism program for 28 years. Bill and his wife Barbara ‘61 were English majors at Gettysburg.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Posted: Thu, 26 Apr 2012
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