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Ernie's Insights - The Missing Face in the Crowd

Ellie Clawson (holding NCAA trophy) helped guide the Johns Hopkins women's cross country team to its fifth NCAA title in six years in 2017.
Jan. 30, 2018

It was as easy as any media pitch I’ve made in more than 20 years as the Director of Athletic Communications at Johns Hopkins. I’ve made this one before and it takes all of about 10 minutes. In reality, it’s not even really a media “pitch”, but the publicity it generates is fantastic and well worth the small investment of time.

The process of nominating someone to be included in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd is done entirely via email and requires the nominator to simply follow the format of what you see in the magazine each week and include an appropriate head shot. Simple enough, even for someone as technologically-challenged as yours truly.

We’ve been fortunate to have a number of Johns Hopkins student-athletes featured in the weekly column during my tenure. I do not – as members of our athletic communications staff through the years will attest – believe in nominating just to nominate … for anything. It’s an honor to be selected and someone on the other end of every nomination for every award has to take the time to read and consider those nominations. When I nominate a Johns Hopkins student-athlete for an award, I truly believe they are worthy of being selected.

So, who is worthy of such a nomination? Here are a few of the recent Blue Jays who have appeared in SI’s Faces in the Crowd:

Hannah Kronick (Women’s Soccer) – Kronick was featured in SI on September 30, 2013 after lifting JHU to a program-best number two national ranking early in the 2013 season. She went on to become the Blue Jays’ career leader in goals (82, assists (36) and points (200).

Ana Bogdanovski (Women’s Swimming) – You know, our 10-time NCAA Champion women’s swimmer who later competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics. She appeared in Faces in the Crowd on April 7, 2014 less than a month after winning five NCAA titles at the 2014 NCAA Division III Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships.

George Bugarinovic and Jimmy Hammer (Men’s Basketball) – Bugarinovic and Hammer, who would go on to lead Johns Hopkins to the Sweet 16 in 2015, both scored their 1,000th career point in the same game on December 14, 2014 – five weeks later on January 19, 2015, they made their appearance together in SI.

Those are just the most recent. Go back farther and you’ll find, among others, Bill Stromberg, the only Blue Jay football player inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame and a current member of the Johns Hopkins Board of Trustees (12-21-1981), Jeff Wills and Adam Wright, All-American men’s lacrosse players (4-13-1992) and Scott Armstrong, the current men’s & women’s swimming coach at Johns Hopkins (2-17-2003).

Now I’m certain that everyone who takes the time to nominate someone for Faces in the Crowd truly believes their nominee should be included. I appreciate and respect that, but truth be told I was pretty stunned when my most recent nominee, junior women’s cross country standout Ellie Clawson, wasn’t selected. Her individual achievement at the 2017 NCAA Division III Women’s Cross Country Championships in November, coupled with the team accomplishments I noted in the nomination … you know what I’m saying here?

November, as those of you who are die-hard Blue Jay fans know very well, is without question the busiest month of the year for the athletic communications staff. So, when we claimed our fifth NCAA Women’s Cross Country title in six years on November 18, I didn’t actually submit my nomination of Ellie for Faces in the Crowd until 10 days later - November 28.

And then, I waited. What seemed like a no-brainer to me, didn’t apparently seem as obvious to the editors at SI. I waited until after the holidays and into the middle of January to send a follow up email asking about Ellie’s nomination, something I wouldn’t normally due out of respect for the process. Not every person I’ve sent in has been selected, and when they didn’t appear I didn’t push, but this one seemed so obvious.

But in this case, I did push – and I was even more disappointed when I received the following response:

“Unfortunately, Ellie’s season ended too long ago to put her in now. Does she run spring track?”

The answer to the question is, of course, yes. In fact, she runs indoor and outdoor track and currently has the seventh-fastest time in the nation in the 3,000-meter run for the indoor season. Her cross country season hadn’t been over that long when I nominated her, but by early January I guess it was too late. Not questioning any of the selections SI made from November 28 until they gave me the final “no”, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree.

There may be another opportunity to nominate Ellie, another member of our women’s cross country/track program or any other Blue Jay student-athlete this year, for what I think is a pretty cool feature and one I check every week – I love reading about the individuals selected and each of them is certainly worthy of being included.

It’s a shame that the thousands of people who read SI and check out Faces in the Crowd each week won’t get to read what I submitted about Ellie, in my opinion the missing Face in the Crowd. At this point, only those of you still reading will get to do that.

Ellie Clawson | Bellevue, WA | Cross Country
Clawson led the Johns Hopkins University women’s cross country team to its second consecutive NCAA Division III Championship and fifth in the last six years. Clawson placed third at the NCAAs – the highest finish ever for a Blue Jay - and was one of five Johns Hopkins runners to finish in the top 50. Clawson, who is majoring in neuroscience, won the Centennial Conference and NCAA Mid-East Regional titles before her third-place finish at the NCAA Championships. The Blue Jays’ five national championships in the last six years are the most of any Division III program in the nation in a fall sport over that time.

--- Forever a Blue Jay ---

Ernie Larossa is in his 21st year as the Director of Athletic Communications at Johns Hopkins. In short, he has the greatest job in the world; he gets paid to watch Johns Hopkins athletes compete and chronicle their achievements. In September, 2017, he decided it was time to periodically pen a column about something related to Blue Jay athletics.

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