Thousands of athletes have graced this campus and led UMD athletics to new heights throughout the years. Among these thousands, 46 individuals proudly represented not only the University of Maryland, but their home countries in the Olympic Games. Out of those 46, FIVE athletes achieved the prized gold medal!
In 1948, the kingpin rifle shooter of the world was none other than Arthur E. Cook, Class of 1950, better known as “Cookie.” As the “baby” of the shooting team representing the U.S. at the Olympics in London, Cookie was found astonishing for his age and his performance was a great upset to the competition. He won the 50-meter competition with an unbelievable score of 599 out of a possible 600, earning him the gold medal! He was the rifle team captain while attending the University of Maryland’s College of Engineering.
A dominate force on the basketball court, Steve “Bear” Sheppard jumped at the opportunity to play with the USA men’s basketball team in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Sheppard would help Team USA go undefeated through the tournament and crush Yugoslavia, 95-74, for the gold medal! Returning to UMD, Sheppard finished out his collegiate career with many highlights before becoming the second round pick for the Chicago Bulls in 1977-78.
As a tremendous, aggressive defensive star, Victoria “Vicky” Bullett was the youngest member (age 20) of the U.S women’s basketball team at the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. Vicky scored four points to help Team USA defeat Yugoslavia (77-70) for the gold medal! On her return from South Korea, Vicky stated that, “I’m in a daze, it still hasn’t really hit me yet. It was a great experience, very exciting.”¹ Vicky Bullett graduated from Maryland in 1989 with a degree in General Studies.
The current head coach of Maryland Track and Field, Andrew Valmon, is no stranger to the Olympics. As a young runner, Andrew attended the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, and the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. In his first appearance at the Olympics, he assisted in winning the gold medal for the Men’s 4 x 400 meter relay with a final time of 2:56.17 just missing the 1968 Olympic and World Record. At the next Summer Games (1992), Andrew once again assisted the Men’s 4 x 400 meter relay in capturing the gold and setting a new world record of 22:55.74. In 2003, Andrew was named head coach of Maryland’s Track and Field team. He reached the highest level of his coaching career when he was named the head coach of the U.S Track & Field Team for the 2012 London Olympics.
At the young age of six, Dominique Dawes began a long and successful career as a gymnast. Twelve years later after numerous competitions and already an Olympic veteran (competing in the 1992 Olympics), she once again proved her ability by gaining a position on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. By the end of the games, the team earned the nickname “Magnificent Seven” and became the first U.S. women’s gymnastics team in Olympic history to win a gold medal. Dawes would later graduate from University of Maryland (though never a member of UMD Gymnastics) in 2002 and is currently a co-chair of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition while working for Yahoo Weekend News.²
This is a post in our on-going series on Terrapin Tales called UMD123! Similar to our “ABC’s of UMD” series in the fall 2015 semester, posts in this series will take a look at the university’s history “by the numbers.” New posts will come out twice a month; on the Terrapin Tales blog search “UMD123” or use the UMD123 tag. You can also check out Twitter #UMD123. If you want to learn more about campus history, you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.
¹ Quote taken from UMD Diamondback article in September 1988 issue.
² Information sourced from Dominique Dawes Wikipedia page. Photo used from Bio section on President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition website.