This afternoon, at 1pm, Duke’s men’s lacrosse team will take the field to battle Johns Hopkins for the national championship. Today’s post looks at four of the unsung heroes of this year’s squad, not for what they’ve done on the field, but for how they’ve handled themselves over the past 15 months.
Junior Bo Carrington (#31) is an ACC Academic Honor Roll Selection; those who watch today’s game won’t have any trouble picking out the midfielder, since he’s one of the two tallest players on the team.
Being recognizable had its drawbacks last spring. In late March 2006, Carrington was surrounded by a group of African-American students while walking across the quad in the middle of Duke’s West Campus. “You know what happened that night!” shouted one member of the crowd. “Why aren’t you saying anything?” As the crowd dispersed, a fellow student in one of Carrington’s classes came running up and asked: “Bo, why don’t you tell me what you know?”
But nobody wanted to hear what Carrington knew: the rape charge was a lie. Yet he kept his patience and didn’t lash out.
No one who knew Carrington—a quiet, deeply religious student—would have anticipated him responding in any other way. He behaved in a similarly professional manner with his professors. The day after the first two indictments, he talked over things with his Spanish instructor, a graduate student. She started out very hostile, saying that she lived in the
During the fall, the campus was energized by the efforts of Duke Students for an Ethical Durham, which sought to register Duke students to vote in
Carrington was present at the critical December 15 hearing, as well—in the front row of the jury box, almost directly in Mike Nifong’s line of sight. (Nifong didn’t look at him once in the nearly two-hour hearing.) “It was,” he observed, “a redemptive feeling as Meehan testified and everyone saw what Nifong had done.”
Yesterday, senior Tony McDevitt (#44) was named a third-team All-American defenseman; he also was a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior Class Award, given to a senior lacrosse student-athlete “who excels both on and off the playing field.”
When the players returned to campus this fall, McDevitt supplied critical senior leadership as more players became involved with the DSED registration effort. He later explained that “registering voters and working in the campaign were the only tangible things we could do for our teammates.” Following the lead of Carrington and McDevitt, the entire team was helping the DSED effort by the end of September. They decided on a major push outside Duke’s football stadium during the September 30 homecoming game.
McDevitt coordinated the effort, making up t-shirts with the (magic marker) slogan “Voice Your Choice” on the front. He bought 50 clipboards and distributed them to every member of the team, along with 30 or so registration forms apiece. The players had a “coaching” session on how to register people—what to say, what not to say, and how to answer common questions. To avoid unnecessary double registrations, McDevitt obtained a list of already-registered students from the county board of elections. Hoping for every member of the team to register at least 15 voters, the players assembled in groups of five at 11am to head out to the stadium parking lot. But, in one of the more controversial aspects of Duke’s behavior, a Duke security officer—later joined by an assistant athletic director—came up and ordered them to stop.
McDevitt pointed out the non-partisan nature of the effort, but behaved with grace, lest he give the Brodhead administration further reason to attack the lacrosse players—even though, as he knew and as Duke officials would later acknowledge privately, the security officer and athletic administrator were in the wrong. He helped organize another voter registration effort, came to the October 27 hearing to show support for the three players, and worked the polls on Election Day.
Sophomore Michael Catalino (#29) joined Carrington as an ACC Academic Honor Roll selection. He noticed the different atmosphere on campus this past fall—“Students that I didn’t know went out of their way to show their support; it seemed like everyone on campus was 100 percent behind us. I also felt safer on campus—I didn’t have to hide who I was.”
Catalino thrived in the new campus environment. In September, a donor who wanted to give $6000 to the legal defense fund purchased 6000 “Innocent” wristbands. Catalino’s mother, Gail, decided that her son would be the person to distribute the wristbands. Between late September and the end of the case, he gave out more than 5000 of them—keeping the accused students’ effort visible, while infuriating some Group of 88 members at the same time.
Catalino had hip surgery last fall, but even though Election Day 2006 was chilly and rainy, he spent the day campaigning for the Recall Nifong effort. He taped Cheek signs to both of his crutches, wore a Cheek T-shirt, and stood in the rain at the bus stop where Duke students could catch a shuttle to their polling place, waiving the crutches to students, urging them to vote.
Five weeks later, he knew that he probably should have been studying for a 7pm final, but he wanted to show support for the three accused players, especially the two that he knew best (Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty), by attending the December 15 hearing. “I knew it could have been me,” he recalled, “and if it had been, I would have wanted my teammates there to show support.”
Junior Rob Wellington (#48) is, like Carrington and Catalino, an ACC Academic Honor Roll selection. He is also one of the most courageous people in the entire case.
After the two initial indictments—when the risk of being the third player targeted by Nifong hung over all other 44 players on the team—Wellington swore out an affidavit (p. 22) confirming that he was with Reade Seligmann throughout the period of the alleged crime. He did so before Seligmann produced electronic confirmation of the affidavit, such as cellphone records and an ATM videotape.
In the fall,
Carrington, Catalino, McDevitt, and
To quote Friends of Duke’s Jason Trumpbour: “It is worth noting that, to date, the players are the only actors in the entire saga who have expressed any genuine regret for inappropriate behavior on their part and who have been willing to examine themselves with an eye toward improvement. They are better people for this experience and will use what they have learned to make a difference in the world. Who else in all this can say that?” That comment certainly applies to Carrington, Catalino, McDevitt, and