Coffey shapes future of college athletics

Coffey’s success can be in part attributed to his work ethic. A member of the men’s soccer team, Coffey has twice overcome career ending injuries. Sophomore year Coffey had the opportunity to start at stopper for the injured Ryan Goodband ’02 and despite a banged up knee, Coffey jumped at the opportunity. Only minutes into the game calamity struck: Coffey went to plant his knee and it buckled below him. “I knew I was done for the year,” he said in hindsight. Coffey, however, did not know the extent of his injuries: a dented femur, crushed meniscus and a torn ACL and MCL. Reconstructive surgery and intensive therapy lay ahead of him.

Another setback

They say that lightning never strikes twice, but injuries are even more unpredictable than the weather. Coffey re-tore his knee playing kickball the following spring. While most people would feel defeated after suffering an injury of that nature for the second time, he was undaunted. Although Coffey certainly wanted to wear an Amherst soccer jersey again before graduation, playing intercollegiate sports was not what drove him to undergo more therapy the second time around. Coffey explained that he “wanted to look five years down the line. I didn’t want to be sidelined for the rest of my life.”

Flash forward to the fall of 2003. Coffey spent months rehabbing, even while in Italy during the spring of his junior year, and eventually was able to get back in form for the season. During this year’s soccer season, Coffey proved to be an integral part of the team.

Coffey certainly knows how to get the job done, whether it is on the field, in the classroom, or as a representative to the NCAA for Division III college athletes. As a student representative to the NCAA, Coffey tries “to stay focused on creating the proper balance between such things as time commitments for athletics and academics.” Throughout his involvement in regulating college athletics, Coffey dealt with such issues as red shirting, rules for releasing athletes if they were considering transferring schools and postseason tournament size and length.

The rules for releasing athletes have recently changed. Previously, if an athlete wanted to get in touch with a coach from another school, perhaps if the athlete was considering transferring, he or she had to petition his or her current coach to release them. If the coach refused to do so, the athlete was not allowed to consult with coaches from other schools. Coffey supported a rule change, that passed by a narrow margin, that now enables student-athletes to release themselves, thus giving the athlete more power over his or her college career.

“The main trick is to show people that while the status quo may be fine, there is a better way to do things that we can get to if we step in the right direction together. If I argue a point well, I can change things and make a difference, which is satisfying,” explained Coffey.

National spotlight

Coffey has had the opportunity to articulate his views on athletics in college in front of a little over a thousand people. The national SAAC convenes three times a year at different places in the country to prepare the students’ position on legislation that will be proposed at the NCAA conventions held each January. At a convention in Nashville, Coffey spoke on the issue of waivers for certain Division III schools that allow them to offer scholarships for one or two of their sports teams who participate in Division I competition. The best part of the debate was that Coffey’s mother, Suzanne, the Athletic Director at Bates College, actually spoke in opposition to her son’s statements. They have succeeded in keeping it in the family.

“I ended up getting quoted in USA Today, which basically means I’ve already had my five minutes of fame,” Coffey said with a laugh.

Coffey’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Athletic Director Peter Gooding commented, “Brad represented Amherst very effectively for two years as a member of the Amherst College SAAC. Because of his good work he was nominated to represent NESCAC at the NCAA’s and spoke very well on the convention floor.”

Despite his accomplishments on and off the sports fields, Coffey remains humble about his accomplishments and can certainly joke about his weaknesses. Coffey is a computer science major and a self-proclaimed “computer science dork, or at least I try to be. And yet in four years of classes at this college, I still have yet to figure out how to get this one virus off my computer,” he joked.

Coffey will be working for the consulting firm Cap Gemini Ernst & Young in their Telecommunications and Media department in Cambridge upon graduation. A Maine native, Coffey explained, “I think I might actually be shipped out to L.A. after I am trained which would be amazing if only because I’ll finally be rid of this fantastic New England weather.” Coffey may be leaving NCAA sports behind; however, his opinions and arguments have helped to shape not only his college athletic career, but those of student-athletes across the country.