The first “official” stop on my road trip was New York University, which is at the corner of — actually, it’s at about a million different corners, all over Greenwich Village in Manhattan.
To say that NYU doesn’t have a traditional college campus is to overstate the obvious, which is one of my gifts.
There are dozens of buildings, mostly in Greenwich Village. It’s been said that NYU is second largest property owner in Manhattan, after the city of New York. Attending NYU is kind of like working in Manhattan, except your job is going to college. It’s a great school. I know because my son graduated from NYU in 2008.
Highlights of my visit:
• Sept. 30: Parked Honey, my 1984 recreational vehicle, on Mercer Street in front of the Coles Athletic Center. Jeff Bernstein, the SID, met me on the street and presented me with my parking permit, but was quick to point out that it was no guarantee against ticketing or towing.
Thirty or more NYU athletes stopped by while I was parked there to chat and autograph the banner I am carrying with me. I met a cross country runner from Fort Morgan, Colo., soccer players and swimmers. Have to admit it takes a while to explain to them exactly what I am doing — a road trip to visit all eight schools in the University Athletic Association.
Honey did attract some attention on the street. I must say she was the only RV I saw in Greenwich Village that day.
• Oct. 1: Janice Quinn is the quintessential UAA coach and administrator. She’s a fast-talking, non-stop promoter of the country’s first non-geographic athletic conference. She has nothing but respect for the kids who compete and their coaches. They carry heavy academic loads at top universities, practice or train 30 hours a week, and then travel just about every other weekend for three days.
She was a top-notch coach and has the national championship to prove it. Her NYU women’s basketball team won the Division III national championship in 1997, beating Wisconsin-Eau Claire 72-70 in the finals. The game’s winning basket was scored by Marsha Harris, the team’s leading scorer, who now a surgeon in New York. She’s as intense as Bobby Knight, but she’s not about herself. She loves and respects the kids, and thinks the UAA is the epitome of college sports.
Before the NCAA championship game, she was talking to Satch Sanders, who led NYU to the NCAA Final Four in 1960 and played on eight Boston Celtics championship teams, about the team’s season and the finals. Some people would be happy just to be there, but Satch told her to get after it and win the whole thing. Her girls did.
Bobst Library is rough and red-sided 12 story building on Bleeker Street, designed by Philip Johnson, who is one of my architectural heroes. It’s from his pre-post-modern period and features an atrium and a black and while marble lobby floor based on the floor of an Italian Cathedral. Despite the digital revolution, the library remains a haven for students, Lucinda Covert-Vail, director of public services, told me during a tour. In fact, the number of daily visits has risen steadily in recent years. Bobst has all the usual library stuff, meaning books and journals, but it also is wired from top to bottom so students can connect. Among the most interesting holdings: The Downtown Collection, which documents the SoHo and Lower East Side arts scene of the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s and a cookbook collection that includes more than 12,000 volumes and 5,000 pamphlets.
• Oct. 2: It’s the opening day of league play in soccer. NYU is taking on the teams from the University of Rochester. The UR men are ranked No. 8 in the country in one poll.
The games are being played at the College of Staten Island, one of four venues that NYU soccer calls “home” field. It’s very much a family affair, with dozens of parents, siblings and significant others lining the fence around the field. Not a single vuvuzela can be heard.
Starting at 11 a.m., the NYU women take an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Rebecca Assing and win by a final of 2-1. How competitive is the UAA? Last season, the UR women won the conference and the NYU women were last.
In the men’s match, keeper Matt Stieve kept NYU in the game with two remarkable saves in the first period and was named UAA athlete of the week for his performance. The game ended 0-0 after two overtimes. Rochester dropped from No. 8 to No. 9 in the national rankings. Three other UAA schools, Carnegie Mellon, Emory and Washington University are also in the top 25.
On the road again
I am traveling from New York to Cleveland this week and will be at Case Western Reserve University, where the Spartans take on the Violets in soccer. Then it’s a quick trip down the road to Pittsburgh for Carnegie-Mellon against Washington University.
Writer Kevin Austin and Honey, his untrusty 1984 recreation vehicle, are touring universities for Austin’s upcoming book on the University Athletic Association. If you see him, stop and help him work on Honey, or at least wave.
Excerpted from Kevin Austin’s blog: 2010 UAA Ultimate Road Trip