UR president Kevin Hallock with Craig Kocher in the broadcast booth for a Spiders baseball game at Pitt Field


Value of sports

President Hallock reflects on the power of athletics to bring Spiders together.

Growing up in Massachusetts, we had a Wiffle ball field in our backyard, with dirt patches at the mound, plate, and bases and a great home run fence. I spent so many hours swinging a hollow bat and chasing balls that when I was starting out as a professor, I asked a colleague, “Can you imagine where I’d be if I’d spent all that time reading instead?”

He replied, “You’d be exactly where you are now, just not as good at Wiffle ball.”

But Wiffle ball was my gateway to baseball, basketball, and soccer, each of which I played in high school. It was a starting seed from which I’ve grown a profound appreciation for athletics and a conviction, as the president of a university with 17 Division I teams, that competitive sports bring tremendous value to our university and that Spider Athletics can help take UR to even greater heights.

Throughout my youth, competitive sports taught me the simple virtues of commitment, preparation, discipline, tenacity, and organization. Sports also introduced me to feeling pride and joy as part of a team. And how to win (and lose) with grace.

“Richmond Athletics fosters bonds among generations of Spiders and inspires our broader region to visit and forge connections with UR.”

Spider Athletics takes this all a monumental step further. It provides opportunities for our entire university community to celebrate what it means to be a Spider. As just one example, when our men’s basketball team beat Dayton at home this season, breaking the nation’s longest winning streak, Spider Pride radiated from the court to the rafters. Everyone in the Robins Center — except for a few Dayton Flyers — was on the same team. I endeavor to foster more opportunities for our community to all get behind something together.

Richmond Athletics fosters bonds among generations of Spiders and inspires our broader region to visit and forge connections with UR. Thanks to home games, many come to campus. On the road, our students and coaches light up Richmond, Virginia, on maps nationwide.

Whenever I speak with our student-athletes, I tell them it takes a lot to be a student at the University of Richmond. This is an academically rigorous institution, and we encourage our students to pursue multiple passions and engage in learning beyond the classroom. Competing at the Division I level is also consistently challenging. Yet, our student-athletes excel in their studies and on their teams. I deeply admire the virtues they demonstrate and am continually inspired by their leadership and support for one another.

But they can’t do it alone. Coaches and athletic staff work with players in the preseason and every day in season. Academic staff, faculty, deans, and student development professionals provide close mentoring relationships and support. Colleagues across campus come together to maintain award-winning athletic facilities and create each game-day experience. All of this is possible thanks to generations of dedicated alumni and donors who cheer for our students and join in the life of the university.

I often refer to the many advantages that offer the University of Richmond an edge over our peers. One advantage is Spider Athletics and our 17 Division I teams. But another is foundational to all the rest: our remarkable, tight-knit Spider community. Some things call for the strength of a Spider community, and Spider Athletics is one of those things. Thank you for being an important part of our web and for all that you do to strengthen it. Go Spiders!