In Brief

Sugaring Time Again; Former President Writes Autobiography; Alum Signs with Baseball Team; News from the Nursing and Business Administration Departments and more.

Making Their Mark

Learn about how our community members engage in writing, presentations and exhibitions.

Past as Prologue

Explore Haystack, a portal to the history of Colby-Sawyer College.

Colby-Sawyer Courier

Keep up with campus news from students' perspectives through the Colby-Sawyer Courier.


This new literary magazine features creative writing in many genres by current students and alumni, faculty and staff, and a few friends and partners.


Find out what Colby-Sawyer alumni have been up to since graduation.

Currents: the chargers club

The Chargers Club: 25 Years of Support for Athletics

Today Colby-Sawyer College student-athletes, both men and women, are fierce competitors on 16 different varsity teams. Charger teams sport beautiful blue-and-white uniforms and warm-up suits and travel around the region to compete at a high level—often making it to the semi-finals or winning championships in their conference.

So it's hard to imagine the life of a student-athlete 25 years ago, when Colby-Sawyer College was still a women's college, and athletic teams competed without uniforms or much of the basic equipment they needed for their sports. Though the athletes played hard and loved to compete, few people attended their games, and their efforts went largely unnoticed.

The Chargers Club changed all that. Twenty-five years ago, in January 1982, a small group of New London women gathered on campus to form the club and consider how they could support athletics—both financially and otherwise—and help the athletes gain the attention and recognition they deserved. Today, the Chargers Club still exists and pursues the same goals, and has raised more than $340,000 for the program since its founding.

At a recent gathering in late August on Kidder Point, overlooking Pleasant Lake and Mount Kearsarge in the distance, college and community friends gathered to celebrate the Chargers' 25th anniversary. Surrounded by many of the Chargers Club's founding members—Pat Kelsey, Gusta Teach, Emily Weathers Campbell and Janet Kidder—current club president Jen Ellis '84 reflected on those early days, when as a student, she and her teammates showed up for tennis matches in any old blue T-shirt.

Ellis grew teary-eyed as she recalled how good it felt when she and her teammates arrived to face their always formidable opponent—Middlebury College—wearing brand new uniforms. The work of the Chargers Club, this small and unassuming local group of friends, had helped the student-athletes feel like a real college team and a force to be reckoned with and respected.

Just Friends

In 1982, then Athletic Director Judy Newcomb approached Pat Kelsey, a former athlete and frequent physical education teacher at Colby Junior College, about the need for a community-based athletic booster club to help support the teams. The college, then led by President Nick Muller, was struggling financially and unable to meet all the teams' basic needs.

Kelsey, who today serves on the college's Board of Trustees, jumped at the chance. “Well, I'll get one started,” she said, and called on her many friends in the community to join. She asked Gusta Teach, who often organized community activities, to serve as president while she took on the secretarial role.

“In those days, women's athletics wasn't high on anyone's agenda,” says Teach. “The kids on the teams were so devoted and not getting any attention. We thought it would be helpful to have someone behind them—not just financially, but also there cheering them on.”

To raise funds, the club members asked community members and business leaders to donate items for Charger Club auctions, which they held on campus during Parents Weekends. With Emily Weathers Campbell in charge of the popular Bloody Mary station, the group auctioned off golf clubs, art work, whatever items were donated, to benefit the teams.

“The teams needed basic things such as uniforms and warm up suits, and large ticket items such as tennis courts,” says Janet Kidder, the club's treasurer. “We didn't have any trouble getting people interested in donating and supporting the club. It wasn't grand—just people in the community who wanted to help out.”

The Chargers Club also initiated an annual awards ceremony and banquet to honor the student-athletes, a tradition that continues today. “We wanted to make a fuss over what the student-athletes were doing,” said Kelsey. “They worked so hard and deserved some recognition.”

For Kidder, the club was simply a new way for the community to get involved in and support the college. “The college is important to the community, just as the community is important to the college,” she said. “It's as true today as it was 25 years ago."

How the Chargers Make a Difference

In the Chargers Club's first year, they raised nearly $3,000 for athletic programs, and by 1989, had helped to bring in more than $130,000 to build the six original Kelsey Tennis Courts. In 2001 alone, the club purchased $20,000 of equipment for athletics and close to $7,000 was spent on the Annual Senior Athletic Awards Reception.

Over the years, the club has made the athletic programs better in ways small and large, purchasing team bags for student-athletes and a John Deere all-terrain vehicle to keep the playing fields in excellent condition. They've contributed sound and video systems and a lighted scorer's table for the Coffin Field House, as well as a records board for the Knight Natatorium.

This list goes on, amounting to some monetary contributions of more than $340,000. Just as importantly, the club's work (and play) has always made life better for individuals—students, coaches, parents, fans.

Erica DeSanty '05, a former tri-captain of the women's basketball team, said that while the “material advancements” brought about by the club made her athletic experience better, their involvement and support for her team meant more to her. “As strong supporters of our team, they personally made me feel like I was a great athlete. Coming to all of our games, hanging signs in the gym and always telling each of us how well we did, (they) will improve the college experience of any athlete.”

Trevor Dorian '05, a former co-captain of the men's baseball team, benefited specifically from the Chargers Club's contributions his team, which made dugouts and indoor batting cages and other equipment possible. “The Chargers Club made a difference for the team every day that we trained and competed,” he said.

Jim Daley '08 plays on the men's soccer team and serves as student member of the Chargers' Board. He belieevs the club is an essential part of all the athletic teams, providing equipment and accessories, and ensuring that all athletes can compete at a high level. “As part of the Chargers Club, I'm able to experience, first hand, the generosity and help that the members are able to provide to the athletic community.”

The New Era

Jen Ellis joined the Chargers Club Board in 1989 and became its president in 1992. She continues in the role today and has been part of the club's, as well as the college's, evolution.

“As the college grew and prospered, it could now afford to operationally support 16 varsity teams. (The club) tries to make the programs better and nicer by purchasing items the coaches and administration requests—above and beyond the basics to make our program stand out among others in our conference,” Ellis said.

Athletic Director Debi Field McGrath '68 believes the involvement and support of the Chargers Club is what makes Colby-Sawyer's athletic program special. “Their personal commitment to students and teams, as well as their financial support, has helped to launch Colby-Sawyer as one of the premier athletics programs in New England,” McGrath said.

“We have more work to do, but we are well on the way to providing a truly quality experience for our student-athletes. I'm so appreciative and offer my kudos to the entire membership,who have given so much of their time and energy over the years."

The Chargers Club's mission remains much the same as it was in 1982, but benefit auctions have been replaced by an annual Tennis Tournament on campus, small retail and raffle efforts, and broad-based annual appeal letter sent to alumni and friends of the college. The club now raises about $20,000 annually to support the athletic awards ceremony and the teams' wish lists.

“We may add another larger annual event to our schedule soon to allow us to raise more friends and funds for Colby-Sawyer athletics,” Ellis added.

The founders of the Chargers Club still take pride in their accomplishments, in part because what began as a tiny group of friends with good intentions has grown deep roots in the college and community.

“Jen's guidance has helped to realize our vision—that the Chargers Club would become an important part of the community,” said Janet Kidder. “I've been involved in all kinds of boards and organizations but I'm really proud to have been a founding member of the Chargers because it's still going strong. They are wonderful women, and I'm so pleased to have been a part of it.”

-Kimberly Swick Slover