Greeting Tribe Swimming.
My name is Scott Graham although I was known as “Scooter” during my Tribe swimming days. Following graduation, I went on to medical school with many of my teammates including Peter Boling, Shawn McLane, Tim Raines, Eric Panner, Bob Tormey, Pat McGrath and Eric Mowatt-Larssen. I trained in neurosurgery and I am currently a Professor of Neurosurgery at Virginia Commonwealth University. I’ve had the privilege of treating leadership, faculty, staff, coaches, trainers and athletes from William and Mary. Additionally, I’ve had the great privilege of directing the neurosurgery residency training program for almost 20 years. For background, neurosurgery training is 7 years long (after medical school) and most programs have 2 residents per year. The similarities to an athletic teams’ interactions and training are uncanny.
I swam for the Tribe from 1983 to 1987 and had the opportunity to be a captain my senior year. Now, looking back from a mid/late-career perspective, I would say that swimming at William and Mary was the most important formative experience for me. Obviously, the training, goal setting and time management learned as a Tribe swimmer helped develop the grit and discipline to complete neurosurgery training in the pre-80-hour work week era. However, the leadership, self-confidence and communication skills developed through interactions with my teammates were equally important as I progressed through my career and now coach the next generation of neurosurgeons. I have immense gratitude for the experiences and the culture that Keith Havens, Dudley Jensen, Wally Reilly and my former teammates created.
Ironically, the men’s swimming program was cut by a new athletic director shortly into my freshman year. Needless to say, I feel the team’s pain and anger with the recent announcement. Fortunately for our team, Keith, Dudley and Wally and John Culhane rallied the strong network of alumni and were able to raise sufficient funds for continued operation. I’m hopeful for a similar outcome.
Further, I must state my disagreement with the recently articulated philosophy, goals and metrics of the athletic department. William and Mary Swimming hasn’t always won the conference championship, but it has always had outstanding alumni achievement. I believe that this is at least partly due to the formative experiences, similar those that I had swimming for William and Mary. Let’s do all we can to keep this team alive for future generations of Tribe swimmers.
R. Scott Graham, MD
Professor of Neurosurgery
Residency Program Director