Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski couldn’t recall a time in his 26 years on campus when the entire athletics department — from veteran coaches and administrators to first-year athletes — came together under one roof.
Monday, the 2006-07 men’s lacrosse team — along with every other team at the school — gathered at Cameron Indoor Stadium to re-affirm their beliefs overall and their belief in each other.
One by one, former Duke athletes took the stage to unveil a word that spoke to the department’s mission going forward. Athletes like former basketball greats Grant Hill and Johnny Dawkins and former football player and Shaw University president Clarence Newsome shared words like “education,” “accountability” and, above all, “excellence.”
Attendees received Nike-designed T-shirts with a logo featuring the word “excellence” surrounded by the rest of the words — respect, integrity, diversity, sportsmanship, commitment and loyalty — and soon all the words will hang off the lampposts in Krzyzewskiville, the grassy area where students await entry to basketball games outside Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“Just like every once in a while with your own kids, with your own employees, with your family, you need to look somebody in the eye and say, ‘You’re really good, you’ve been good, and you share some amazing beliefs. This is going to be an incredible year.’ That’s instead of, ‘What’s going to happen next?'” said Krzyzewski, the keynote speaker at the closed-door meeting of more than 850 athletes and administrators.
“What this situation this spring did was that people wanted to put a cloud over all of athletics and specifically lacrosse, and I don’t think that’s fair, quite frankly, because we have so many great kids. If somebody did something wrong, then hold them accountable, but don’t indict everyone. So tonight was about saying to the rest of the student-athletes, ‘Hey, y’all are good. Have a great year. Let’s keep pursuing excellence.'”