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Alumni and friends inaugurate Mark S. Randall Endowed Coach for Swimming and Diving

By Mark Walden on May 10, 2007
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Alumni, coaches, family, and friends from around the country arrived at the Colgate Inn on Friday, May 4, to pay a unique tribute to the late Swimming and Diving Coach Mark Randall.

(From left) DeWitt Randall, Bob Fox ’59, Kirk Randall, Head Swimming and Diving Coach Stephen Jungbluth, and captains of the 2006-2007 swimming team join in the inaugural celebration. (Photo by Julian Button)

Alumni, coaches, family, and friends from around the country arrived at the Colgate Inn on Friday, May 4, to pay a unique tribute to the late Swimming and Diving Coach Mark Randall.

Through the generosity of Robert Fox ’59 and dozens of other investors, Colgate inaugurated the Mark S. Randall Endowed Coach for Swimming and Diving — one of the first coaching chairs to be announced and funded at the university.

For many in the room, Randall was more than just a coach; he was a father figure, patting them on the back when they were doing well, and “a bit lower” when they didn’t rise to their potential. “I was an average swimmer,” says Richard Wolk ’62. “But Coach Randall made me feel like I was the most important guy on the team.”

Bob Fox provoked nods from the crowd as he noted that “Mark Randall was my continuity during my four years at Colgate.”

That connection didn’t end when Randall’s athletes exchanged their uniforms for caps and gowns. After graduation, as alumni made trips back to campus for Reunion and other special events, they always paid a visit to the coach’s home.

This ability to relate to his students — to know them as people — allowed Randall to create winning teams outside of the natatorium, too. His tenure at Colgate began in 1945 and, while he earned a stunning record of 164-58 as swimming and diving coach, he also lead the soccer team for 14 years, achieving a 74-41 record. Randall coached lacrosse as well and eventually headed the university’s physical education department.

After “retiring” from the university in 1978, Randall continued to coach the diving program. In 1981, he began a second career, founding the Chenango Water Exercise Group, a physical therapy program that eventually drew national recognition and fed his unrealized ambition to be a physician.

The $1.5 million Randall chair, adopted by current Swimming and Diving Coach Stephen Jungbluth, comes at a critical time when programs across the nation are being cut. “Thanks to those in this room,” Jungbluth told the audience, “I can look at parents and recruits and say, ‘You can rest assured that our program is securely in place.’”

In his lifetime, Randall received countless awards, including the Jefferson Award for public service in 1989, the Maxwell House “Real Heroes” Award in 1992, and the award for Top Water Fitness Program in the United States in 1993. According to many of his students, however, the Mark S. Randall Endowed Coach for Swimming and Diving was the perfect way to round out a long list of accolades because it provides future Colgate swimmers with continuity — a gift Randall himself gave to so many student-athletes throughout the years.

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