Team spirit

Super Fan

Biology professor named NEWMAC SuperFan

There are fans, and then there is Professor of Biology Betsey Dyer.


If there is a basketball game happening in Emerson Gym or a women’s lacrosse match on the field, you’ll likely find her there cheering on Wheaton—unwavering in her enthusiasm, win or lose.

She regularly follows men’s basketball, women’s basketball (for 25 years) and women’s lacrosse, and tries to get to every home game and some away games, too. Because of that and what students have to say about her team spirit, she was named the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) SuperFan of the Month for November 2016.

The members of the women’s basketball team nominated her for the award, noting that she is equally supportive in the classroom, understanding the challenges that students face while balancing the demands of academics and athletics.

“Her dedication to and passion for us in the classroom and on the field pushes us to work that much harder and to make her proud,” team members wrote in their submission.  

How devoted is Dyer?

“I identify the most with women’s basketball and follow that team quite closely, including watching them play away games on my computer. I have their season marked out on my calendar just as soon as it is settled. And I’ve gotten to know the coach, Melissa Hodgdon, quite well. I feel that the two of us collaborate in recruiting good players who plan to major in the biological sciences. I also check my class lists to see who my athletes are, and I attempt to get to at least one game for each of those sports,” said the professor, who also plays basketball with staff and faculty during her lunch break.

“Women’s lacrosse is very recent for me. I deliberately began to follow them closely in 2012 as a sort of experiment to see whether I could become a fan of a sport I knew nothing about. And at the time I was encouraging other faculty members to try that, too. Coach Emily Kiablick made it easy for me to get to love lacrosse; she actually lets me stand on the sidelines with the team and also to go into huddles for time out. It is a very unusual privilege, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Emily. Last year Emily even handed me a clipboard and told me to keep track of the draws.

It is a really wonderful thing to get to know students in class and then to get to know them on that other level as intense competitors in athletics. By the way, I feel the same way about seeing my students in theater, musical and dance events.

I’ve been playing in the faculty/staff basketball game for more than 30 years. We play twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays) every week, year round except between Christmas and New Year. We have a dedicated group of faculty, staff, coaches and administrators who have really gotten to know each other well on the court. We even try to adjust our teaching and meeting schedules so as not to conflict with our game. Some people I play with, I would never have known so well or at all. Mainly because of longevity, I am co-commissioner of NoonTimeHoops, along with Brian Gibson (systems manager for IT.) One amazing thing is how accommodating the Athletics Department is to our game. We are allowed to play on the main wooden floor even during basketball season when the floor is in great demand for practices.

I’ve had plenty of time to think about why I love team sports and why I love being on a team. I don’t think I have the usual reasons. I am not especially athletic (not fast, coordinated or skillful). What I have is a pretty good (theoretical) game inside my head. And the combinatorics of basketball are on a manageable level for me: only five players against five others and sometimes fewer if we play half court. For an hour and a half, twice a week there are only nine other people in the universe and they are doing a set of fairly predictable, interesting things. It really takes my mind off the more complicated real world. It’s like a reset.”

Click here to see the praise students heaped on her.