Way back in the autumn of 2013, Joe MacDonald got a FaceTime call from a high school friend and former football, basketball and baseball teammate, Adam Lamont. Adam had a grand idea to do something never done before – or so he thought. With Joe attending college at Middlebury and Adam at Bowdoin, both sophomores, they had a vested interest in the fortunes of their school’s respective athletic teams, and yet their appetites for in-depth analysis of the games taking place on their own campuses went unfulfilled. Therefore, Adam decided that he wanted to create, from scratch, his own multi-platform news outlet covering football, men’s basketball and baseball around the NESCAC, and he knew Joe was the man to help achieve that goal. Together they brainstormed all the tasks that they would need to check off – building a website, contacting coaches, gathering writers, scheduling articles, working social media, etc. They were ambitious. A little too ambitious. That first FaceTime came in the middle of the third week of the NESCAC football season, and the duo foolishly believed they could whip together a website almost immediately – on the following Monday.
Luckily, fortune favors the bold. Joe, a sports editor at the Middlebury Campus, brought up his ambitious idea to the lead sports editor, Damon Hatheway, a senior who knew more about Middlebury football and basketball than Stephen A. Smith knows about Kobe Bryant’s personal life. Damon said that sounded like a great idea, but had Joe ever seen PantherNation? Joe had not. PantherNation was the brainchild of Damon and classmate Jeff Hetzel, and provided the most consummate coverage imaginable for any D-III sport. Damon and Jeff chose to focus on Middlebury football and men’s basketball, the two sports they loved, at a time when those two sports saw their greatest achievements since the turn of the century.
So, instead of haphazardly throwing together a makeshift blog in the middle of the football season, Adam and Joe began taking on articles assigned to them by Damon and Jeff, and throughout the course of the football season and the winter, the younger pair began expanding PantherNation’s scope, previewing big games that did not include Middlebury.
Come spring of 2014, with PantherNation leaving a void in the spring, it was time for Joe and Adam to launch their own brainchild. Nothing but NESCAC was slow to launch. Every Twitter follower or Facebook like gave the authors a great swell of pride. Each article might have only gotten a dozen or so reads in that first spring, but it was something to build on. Adam and Joe began spreading the word to all of their friends around the NESCAC, and more and more people began to catch on and know the acronym NbN.
The fall of 2014 was an incredible leap. Suddenly thousands of people were coming to Nothing but NESCAC every month, enjoying the weekly power rankings, game previews and miscellaneous interviews and Q & A’s. In September, October and November of that year, there were more than 10,000 views every month from over 3,000 unique visitors. Football has always been the most popular sport for readers of Nothing but NESCAC, but even throughout the winter and spring readership remained strong.
Then, on November 5, 2015, Nothing but NESCAC reached its seminal moment to date. The greatest article we ever wrote had nothing to do with on-field performance, gutsy calls or clutch performances. It had to do with hair.
On that day, Adam proclaimed the 2015 All-Hair Team, complete with roster pics, and 5,930 people came to the site in a single day.
Let this serve as a reminder of this site’s humble beginnings as it hopefully continues to grow. NESCAC sports are special, but if you’re reading this, you probably already know that. Back in 1994, Sports Illustrated printed an article about the unique athletic landscape in the NESCAC that all incoming NESCAC student-athletes need to read. And even though we are 20 years, a financial crisis, a handful of recruiting violations and an internet boom away from those days, you’ll find that a lot of Douglas Looney’s words still ring true. Nowhere else is the love of the game so apparent on the faces of the young men and women competing for their soon-to-be alma maters.
What’s the mission of this blog? Simply to celebrate what’s left of the only remaining oasis from professionalism still present in college sports. As each year goes by, the NESCAC begins to look more and more like other conferences around the country, hell-bent on recruiting, training year-round and winning at all costs. And while we acknowledge those achievements here, keep in mind that the greatest stories are not told on the scoreboard.
Sometimes, the greatest stories are just about hair.
~Joe MacDonald, July 19, 2016