Jumbo Footprints

Follow the footsteps of champions—and those who played just for fun

Since retiring as director of athletics in 1999, Rocky Carzo hasn’t changed much. He still has an office on the second floor of Halligan Hall, and he still comes to work almost every day.

The baseball team played in Tufts’ first intercollegiate contest in 1869. © UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES

Carzo was head coach of the Jumbo football team from 1966 to 1973, when he was named athletics director. In “retirement,” he’s worked on his golf game and spent more time with his family, which now includes eight grandchildren. However, the adrenaline on which he thrives in getting things done in a work environment needed a new motivator.

The joy of the game
Now on sale is his latest endeavor, Jumbo Footprints: A History of Tufts Athletics, 1852­1999. Written, edited, designed and printed by current and former Tufts staff and alumni—with Carzo at the helm—the 324-page softcover book is filled with stories and photos celebrating the long and unique legacy of sports at Tufts. The university has produced Olympians, major leaguers, national and regional champions, All-Americans, record-breakers and those who played simply for the joy of playing and the camaraderie of being on a team.

“I’ve been at Tufts since the 1960s, so it made sense for me to be the one to put together a historical perspective,” Carzo said. “My reach goes back to the 1940s and ’50s. I worked with [former coaches] “Fish” Ellis, Harry Arlanson and “Ding” Dussault. I knew Arthur Sampson and Lew Manly, both football coaches. I met thousands of students, worked with hundreds of coaches. It was time to tell those stories.”

“Tufts Athletics has not existed in isolation,” Carzo writes in the book’s preface. “As part of the university, it flourished, suffered and was subject to all of the societal impacts that influenced the entire Tufts community throughout its history.”

Heather Sibbison, J83, was Tufts’ first All-American in women’s track. © UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES

Slow on the computer and admittedly not adept with crafting prose, Carzo approached his new task like a good football coach. He assembled a team to work on what, at the outset, appeared overwhelming. Nearly 150 years of history had to be researched, written and edited. Assigning the creative aspects of the project to others, Carzo contributed by doing what he does best: He rolled up his sleeves and did a lot of the grunt work; he compelled the team toward progress when it lagged, and he raised the funds necessary to complete the project.

Appropriately, the dedication at the beginning of the book reads: “All books have authors and editors. This one also had a head coach who kept us in the game.”

An oversight fixed
Beyond its value as a resource, Jumbo Footprints features creative writing and personal recollections. Susan Wilson, J69, G75, wrote a comprehensive and sometimes-humorous chapter on Jumbo, Tufts’ beloved mascot, which, surprisingly, had not been officially adopted as the Tufts mascot. (The oversight was rectified by a vote of the Board of Trustees in 2004.) Paul Rich, who worked in public relations at Tufts from 1963 to 1973, describes the historic 1875 football game between Tufts and Harvard that challenges the long-held belief that Princeton and Rutgers played the first football game between two American colleges in 1869.

Other writers, including eight-time Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year Tim Horgan, A49, cover the journey of Tufts sports from the turn of one century to the dawn of the next. In the beginning, Tufts competed against the major programs of the time before opting to become a Division III school. Throughout its history, the university held fast to its scholar-athlete philosophy, never allowing the games to supplant academic priorities. Emerging out of the 20th century as a small-college sports program embedded in an institution known for academic excellence and innovation, the story of Tufts Athletics reaches far and wide.

Rocky Carzo © JOANIE TOBIN

“The book was a wonderful, nostalgic trip down memory lane,” said Jack Heneghan, A55, one of the country’s top basketball players as an undergraduate who is still fifth at Tufts in career points scored. “The legends of so many Tufts greats were brought to life so vividly. It is a must-read for any Tufts alum, not just the athletes. I have ordered copies for my five kids as I think it is a keepsake.”

This is not a book produced by outside professionals. It has “Jumbo footprints” all over it. David Estridge writes about the turmoil at Tufts in the 1960s because he lived it as a communications officer on campus. Despite limitations caused by a stroke, 1944 Tufts graduate Judge Edward J. Shea researched and wrote the chapters covering the founding of the university in 1852 through post-World War II, including the story of a future U.S. president whose athletic career was cut short on the gridiron in a game against Tufts in 1913. Karen Bailey, associate director in Tufts’ Office of Publications, weaved the chapters together as the primary editor, assisted by free-lance writer Linda Hall. University Archivist Anne Sauer, J91, G98, assisted Carzo in poring over endless newspaper clippings and photographs. The administration, led by Wayne Bouchard, former dean of administration for Arts & Sciences, backed the project from the start.

“This book confirms what I believe in my heart,” Carzo said. “Anything is possible if you have the right people with you and if you work at it. The book is a reflection of both the people who worked on it and the individuals and teams who participated in athletics at Tufts over the years. Their effort is their greatest honor.”

Read for yourself
To order a copy of Jumbo Footprints, download the order form (21k Word doc.). Or contact Athletics Director Emeritus Rocky Carzo at 617-627-6159 or e-mail rocco.carzo@tufts.edu. Cost is $35 (postage is extra). Checks are payable to the Trustees of Tufts University, or you may pay by money order or credit card. The book is also available at the University Bookstore on the Medford/Somerville campus.

Paul Sweeney is Tufts’ director of sports information and a co-editor of Jumbo Footprints. He can be reached at paul.sweeney@tufts.edu.