McCoy Wins Rhodes Scholarship

Dakota McCoy. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Dakota McCoy. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Hurdler and Thrower to Continue Her Studies at Oxford

New Haven, Conn. – Senior Dakota McCoy, a hurdler and thrower on the women's track and field team, has been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship for her outstanding academic and personal achievements. At Yale, she is a leader both on and off the track: she has conducted research in the fields of ecology, primate cognition, and evolutionary biology, resulting in several peer-reviewed publications, in addition to her commitment as a freshman counselor in Branford College. McCoy is also a member of Whim 'n Rhythm and won the Francis Gordon Brown Prize for the class of 2013, awarded to the member of the class who best upholds the standards of intellectual ability, high personhood, capacity for leadership and service to the University set by Francis Gordon Brown of the class of 1901. Her previous academic honors include a Goldwater Scholarship and membership in Phi Beta Kappa.

McCoy credits her time on the track and field team as key to her success at Yale: "I have always been proud and honored to represent Yale on the track, and track and field has been the integral part of my time at Yale and my development as a person," she said.

"Track and field has unquestionably taught me discipline and commitment, two necessary aspects of scientific research," she commented.

She lists head coach David Shoehalter, the Mark T. Young '68 Director of Cross Country and Track and Field, as a great mentor and supporter of her myriad pursuits: "There is no way I could have accomplished anything close to what I have without the unwavering support and help of Coach Shoehalter—he is a great track coach, a great person and a great friend! He is even an excellent birdwatcher. Often at practice, we would discuss killdeer who nested on our fields, ospreys in nearby swamps, or northern harriers soaring over our heads! He always helped me balance track, classes, and other commitments," said McCoy, adding that "when some aspects of academics or research came into conflict with track, Coach Shoehalter always trusted me to balance my various commitments and 100% supported excellence in these other activities. This is a really wonderful and unique opportunity afforded to me by Coach Shoe and the Yale track team."

McCoy also acknowledges her teammates as influential: "Of course, our path through life is largely defined by our community of friends, and I have to thank my teammates- especially Allison Rue, Jenna Poggi, Nina Renker, and Adele Jackson-Gibson- for being great people and wonderful friends."

"The Rhodes Scholarship is an amazing opportunity to represent Yale track and field—an organization I feel so proud and honored to be associated with—on the national stage. I could not be more excited and humbled by this opportunity, and I know it would not have been possible without Coach Shoe and Yale track," she said.

McCoy will pursue a M.Sc. by research in zoology at Oxford University beginning in fall 2013.

Report by Natalie Villa '13, Yale Sports Publicity