From the Desk of Athletic Director Glenn Hofmann
Things have been pretty good lately around the Volpe Complex. Things are so good right now that on my drive home from Lawler after the Alabama-Huntsville hockey game I was stopped for five minutes waiting, and I’m not kidding, for three turkeys to cross the road. Needless to say if you are a turkey walking around the night before Thanksgiving you have to be feeling pretty good!
An undefeated hockey team, six of seven fall teams that improved from the previous year, a field hockey squad that set a school record for wins and qualified for its first-ever final four appearance, a women’s soccer team that made the conference championship and NCAA Tournament, a tenth straight sellout at Lawler without students on campus. These are all reasons to be extremely thankful this holiday.
I wasn’t sure how we as a department should handle the news of the hockey team being ranked first in the country. After all it doesn’t happen very often in ANY sport, let alone at the Division I level that the smallest school in the country is the highest ranked. What the staff and I discussed was the fact that it is only November and would we be putting undo pressure on our student-athletes if we promoted the ranking. We came to several conclusions.
First, Coach Dennehy has this team in a very good place. They understand the time of year it is and if there is one thing that gives us a lot of confidence it is that the Merrimack Hockey program has been and will continue to be successful due to the work ethic they have established and because of the family backgrounds they come from.
Second, we realized that quite frankly regardless of whether we wanted to make a big deal about the ranking, others would. We have set records for the number of hits on our web site, twitter and facebook pages. We have been mentioned in almost all of the Boston area TV and radio sports reports as well as on ESPN, ESPNU and countless other media forums.
And ultimately I think we all came to the conclusion that we shouldn’t hide from the fact that our hockey team is ranked number one in the country. We should instead do what all of our students, faculty, staff, season ticket holders and fans are doing – celebrate the ranking and feel good about it. At a time when Penn State and Syracuse are suffering from alleged misdoings by former staff members, when several other schools are being investigated by the NCAA, when the University of Maryland has announced that is cutting eight sports and when our hockey opponent from tonight, Alabama-Huntsville, is unfortunately dropping hockey at the end of the year, we should celebrate what we are accomplishing at Merrimack.
We should celebrate the Merrimack Hockey program’s number one ranking, we should celebrate that after the fall season Merrimack is ranked 24th in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup out of 300 Division II institutions, we should celebrate that we have just formally announced that we will be adding women’s and men’s swimming beginning next year, that we will be producing and airing five hockey games in the Boston/Manchester NH area on WBIN television and that we anticipate breaking ground on the Volpe expansion project in early January.
We should also celebrate the alumni and in particular Ken Duane and Chuck DiCroce who fought to save the hockey program when many thought the program should be cut.
And maybe most importantly we should celebrate and be thankful that as a school we have again embraced our identity as a small contemporary Catholic College which as many people have been reminded of and many, many more will soon realize can compete both academically and athletically with anyone in the country.
Best wishes to you and your families for a Happy Thanksgiving and healthy and safe holiday season. Go Warriors!