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Street, jobs and internships are harder to come
by than they have been in the past,” says Sean
Keating ’87, who also helped McCoy land the
internship. Keating, who is managing director
and head of the New York offce for the Chicago
Mercantile Exchange Group, got his own start in
the fnancial industry after being introduced to
McKiernan by Jim Daly ’72, former director of
admission and former president of the Alumni
Association.
More than just an internship, McCoy gained
a mentor and a friend. McKiernan said he would
check in regularly with McCoy this summer.
“It really helps these kids to talk to people
who share that common bond,” says Marist Head
Coach Jim Parady. “I want the kids to wait until
their junior and senior years and prove that they
can be successful in the classroom frst. I want
them to earn this opportunity.” Well worth the
hard work, the relationships integrate sport and
education, an ideal rooted in the formation of
Marist football nearly a half century ago.
In the mid-1960s, a group of young kids on
a Poughkeepsie campus decided they wanted to
play some football. Although no team existed,
how hard could it be to start their own?
“Thank God we were 19 and 20 instead of 40
or 41, because we were crazy enough to actually
think we could do it,” says Tom Taylor ’66.
Although they were unable to attain funding
from the school, they nevertheless established
an independent club team called the “Marist
Vikings” in 1965. Far before a new stadium and
Nike attire, the Vikings were practicing under
foodlights nailed to trees and recruiting players
from local pubs. They employed their own coach,
raised their own money, and made lengthy trips
in a panel truck to pick up leftover equipment
that no one else wanted. “Although I couldn’t put
the program on the budget,” says former Marist
President Dr. Richard Foy ’50, “I was a young
president and the culture of this place was ‘you
don’t wait for old people to tell you what you can
do.’ I told them to try it because I knew it would
be a great learning experience.”
Over thenext 13 seasons, theVikings became
one of the most powerful teams of its era at the
club level. Under Coach Ron Levine, Marist went
65-31-3 in the Eastern Collegiate Club Football
League. The entrepreneurial dimension of the
team’s creation was as vital to the development
of student-athletes as the on-feld competition.
By the new millennium, the Marist football
program had long since received funding from
the school, but another dilemma would threaten
its existence.Many schools ofMarist’s stature had
abolished football because of Title IX compliance
issues as well as its expensive nature. “That ‘roll
up your sleeves, grab the wheelbarrows and
shovels’ attitude is truly indicative of the culture
of the place. Back then, people were literally
building buildings inorder tokeep the institution
functioning,” saysMcKiernan,who spent years on
Marist’s Board of Trustees and fought on behalf
of the program he helped build.
In 2009, Marist decided to keep its football
program and join the Pioneer Football League,
a non-scholarship football-only conference with
schools from coast to coast. “The core belief in
non-scholarship football, playing and practicing
without a direct full-ride scholarship, shows an
indication of character building in my estima-
tion,” McKiernan says. “It shows these guys are
playing for the thrill of competition as opposed
to scholarship football.”
Without scholarships, though, the Athletic
Department needed to create incentives for
prospective students and their families. “The
only way we were going to separate ourselves
was to do something different,” says Taylor, a
longtime advocate for Marist football. Taylor
played guard and linebacker on the Vikings’ frst
squadandcurrently serves as offensive line coach
and recruiting coordinator for the football team.
“They are hearing from successful people
who have done very well,” Bob Finn ’66 says of
thementees. “The programadds a personal touch
to the football program; it provides a connection
they’re comfortable with.” Finn, who along with
Dan Hickey ’66 runs Poughkeepsie insurance
agency Hickey-Finn & Co., speaks with football
players about what they should and should not
be doing to better their chances in a competitive
job market.
Finn bolstered his own chances at employ-
ment while attending Marist by virtually becom-
ing the CEO of a business. And that business was
Marist football. In 1964, Finn, who was working
as a resident assistant, overheard a few guys
deliberating about the best way to start a football
program. “I said, ‘Hey, you guys are going about
this the wrong way,’ ” says Finn. “They let me put
my two cents in then, and 47 years later, I’m still
putting my two cents in.” Finn became the team’s
manager, gaining experience in raising money,
hiring coaches, scheduling teams,marketing, and
branding. “It was the greatest course I could have
ever taken,” he says. After taking a corporate job
for a year following graduation, Finn quit to start
his own business. “Go do it,” Finn said to himself.
Now he’s imparting advice to Marist football
players like Nic Zivic ’10. Finn set up Zivic with
preliminary interviews with various companies,
eliminatingmuchof the stress andtime involved in
the jobsearch.Zivicmetwithcompanyrepresenta-
tivesoncampus and, after a fewinterviews, landed
a job with a frm near his hometown. “Working
withBob reallymademe feel comfortable andgave
me a sense of calm during this otherwise scary
time for most graduates,” says Zivic. “The mentor
program worked for me just like it was designed
to, and I can see it helping out many fellow Red
Foxes in the years to come.”
Finn says the strong connection among
football alumni allows such an initiative to thrive.
Jack Eberth ’69 is another football alumnus who
shares this connection. As a major gifts offcer for
Marist’s Offce of College Advancement, Eberth
has worked with Parady to connect roughly 60
football players with football alumni in their feld
of interest since the program’s inception. Eberth
remembers Foy telling the football players to
“create their own little sandbox to play in.” Now,
manyalumniwhoseconnectiontoMarist is rooted
in their experiences building and playing in that
sandbox are giving back, ensuring the entangle-
ment of learning and football remains intact.
n
Kevin Fitzpatrick ’12 welcomes his mentor, Jack Eberth ’69, at the annual spring game.
In the mid-1960s, a group of young kids on a Poughkeepsie campus decided they wanted to
play some football. Although no team existed, how hard could it be to start their own?
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