(Quincy) Anyone familiar with Eastern Nazarene athletics knows Athletic Director Nancy Detwiler. She is a visible presence and has been part of the athletic scene there for 45 years……..and counting.
I had a chance to talk with her before the recent ENC/Gordon basketball game at Quincy.
“He asked me to start women’s basketball and I did,” she recalled. “In those days a coach did everything including hiring the officials but I loved it.
The ENC men’s rivalry with Gordon was already established. “It was intense and the gyms were usually packed, but once you got off the floor it was over.”
ENC coach Carroll Bradley and Gordon coach Hal Murdoch were well known on the other team’s campus. “I developed a nice relationship with Ruby Blackhall (Gordon women’s basketball coach). We talked on the phone a lot and it translated into the teams. The kids on the teams knew about the fellowship we had.”
Nancy coached basketball for twelve years and volleyball for twenty. “For a while I coached both sports but it became too much,” she said. “I had to choose between the two and went with volleyball because it had a shorter season.”
Nancy remembers ENC playing Gordon in the preliminary games at the Boston Garden before Celtic games during the 1960s. “Our people looked forward to that every year.”
Probably as eagerly awaited was the annual King’s College tournament. Held in New York, it was a time when Christian colleges, including Gordon and ENC, gathered/interacted and matched up in a number of events including basketball.
“After the King’s Tournament disbanded we put a tournament together including ENC, Gordon, Messiah, and Eastern Mennonite,” she said. “Those of us setting it up knew how the King’s Tournament had been run so we tried to model it similarly. There was a dinner with all the players coming in. Then we had excellent music groups come in and perform. There was an incredible spiritual atmosphere. The feedback I got from this tournament was phenomenal. The cost of the tournament (travel & hosting) forced it to be discontinued.”
Asked about the best male basketball player she had seen play at ENC she chose Ron Bradley. “He was a great shooter but he also played good defense. He was in the gym all the time working on his game.” She also told me that Ron’s nephew (Kevin Carr – #32) is a freshman on this year’s ENC squad.
These days ENC still sees Gordon as its biggest rival and you can be certain that a large group of fans will make the trip to the Bennett Center when the basketball teams meet for a second time this season. “Last year I think we had more fans up there than they did,” said Nancy.
Nancy thinks that the rivalry is not as big at Gordon. “They’ve moved on to Endicott and some of the larger schools. I think that something was lost when this happened. Lost was the camaraderie that our kids used to enjoy with Gordon kids. Also lost were the times when the teams, including coaches, would pray together before or after games.”
Nancy enjoys the interaction she has with students. “Things have changed a lot with kids. Like many in our current society, they aren’t used to having anyone say “No,” to them. In dealing with kids like this you have to stand firm and be willing to take the heat that comes as a result.”
Problems aside, Nancy is quick to admit that being Athletic Director at ENC is a pleasure. “I’m attracted to the problem solving and decision making that it involves. I feel as if this is a ministry not a job. I don’t wake up not wanting to be here. I just love what I’m doing.”