The club formed as the fall 2021 semester was coming to an end and as the team prepared for winter break. Jack Dorsey ’23 and Jack Fried ’25 were two of the club's inaugural members, which now includes nearly 20 teammates.
“We wanted to find an outlet to talk about the books we were reading and the ones that we liked,” Fried said. “It was a great way to stay in touch with each other, and it was really enjoyable to see the academic side of the guys I spend time with on the field.”
Book club members are pursuing a wide range of majors, which Fried said comes through in discussions and the perspectives they bring to what they read. The courses they take are not usually a factor in what books they choose.
“We are seeking something outside what we read for class,” Dorsey said. “It’s cool to use our minds in other ways.”
Both players note that while it’s uncommon to hear of a men’s lacrosse team having a book club, it’s something that illustrates why Hamilton’s squad stands out from others.
“The chemistry on the field relates to our relationships off the field,” Fried said. “Spending more time together creates more of a trust and a bond. Being active on an intellectual level is important because we play a thought-provoking game, and being able to have discourse and discuss things is important. I find that my relationships formed during the book club have sharpened our relationships on the field, which has, in turn, led to better lacrosse.”
It’s also led to impromptu conversations and deeper connections with inspiring alumni. When the club selected Beneath the Scarlet Sky as one of the first books to read, they quickly uncovered a Continental connection they all had to the famed author, Mark Sullivan. Not only was he a 1980 graduate of the College, he had also been a member of Hamilton's men's lacrosse team.
Dorsey reached out to him through the form on Sullivan's website. Much to Dorsey's surprise, Sullivan responded almost immediately and was eager to connect with the group, so they set up a Zoom call which ultimately lasted nearly an hour and half.
“I did not expect an all-male book club,” Sullivan said. “I usually appear or do Zoom calls with roughly 50 book clubs every year, and I could not remember any that were all male. So that was nice to find a group of avid guy readers. They had great questions. They’d thought a lot about the book and had interesting arguments surrounding certain aspects of the story of Pino Lella.”
In addition to talking about the book, club members got to hear parts of Sullivan’s life story, learn about his Hamilton experience, and gain insights into his writing process. The 90-minute session also included a discussion of Sullivan’s The Last Green Valley, which came out in 2021, his current work in progress titled Silver Stars in the Sky, and his collaborations with author James Patterson, whose father attended Hamilton.
“Mark gave us phenomenal life advice,” Dorsey said. “He talked about living life to the fullest and the importance of finding what we’re truly passionate about and pursuing it with everything we’ve got. He also emphasized the opportunity we have at Hamilton to find out who we really are as part of ‘knowing thyself’ and encouraged us to take risks. He made it a truly special experience for all of us.”
As the book club continues to welcome new members and as players graduate, both Fried and Dorsey are looking ahead to the club’s long-term implications for themselves, each other, and the men’s lacrosse program.
“The book club is not something for when we’re only at Hamilton,” Dorsey explained. “I hope this continues for years and that I can take part as a graduate. It’s a way to stay connected with the program and build relationships with guys. I want to help them in other aspects of their lives with things like internships and jobs and continue giving back to a team that’s given so much to me.”