From the Desk of Athletic Director Glenn Hofmann
This is the sixth edition of "From the AD's Desk"
The last couple of weeks on campus have revolved in many ways
around the word judgment. Over the weekend our baseball team became
the fourth of five teams to participate in the team-building and
leadership exercise known as Judgment Day. Unlike the other teams
that participated they were out in sub 45 degree temperatures on
Saturday, but just like the other teams the two-day training seemed
very beneficial. Two teams that took place in the training this
fall are off to excellent starts; men’s basketball has won
ten straight games and hockey is off to its best Hockey East start
in 18 years. The third team, men’s lacrosse is picked fifth
in preseason national polls.
Speaking of hockey our program in essence is being judged on a yearly basis by Hockey East in this respect. There are certain standards that all programs must meet if they are to stay in the conference. While scoreboards were not part of those standards we did install new scoreboards in the Lawler Rink just last week. The new boards now give us the capability to show graphics and keep our fans more involved in games. What is a part of Hockey East standards are chairback seats and that is a major component of this summer’s renovations. We continue to be on track to reach our goal of $1.8 million, but we are hitting crunch time. All of you should be receiving a “Buy A Seat” brochure in the mail. I ask for your support as we continue to improve our facilities and consequently the experience for our student-athletes. As a reminder after nearly two months of away games the hockey team returns to Lawler this Saturday night to take on Providence at 7:00 p.m.
Perhaps the biggest judgment of the last week came at this past weekend’s NCAA Convention. As part of Division II’s Life in the Balance initiative several measures were passed that Merrimack as an athletics department supported. Since I expect them to get some publicity I wanted to give you my perspective on each. Essentially many of the proposals that passed dealt with the length of the playing seasons in the fall, winter and spring. In each case I think it will be very beneficial to our student-athletes and certainly our staff that season’s begin one week later. In the fall this means that rather than reporting back to campus in early August team’s will come back midway through the month and games won’t start until early September.
Just as the playing seasons will be reduced so too will the number of games many teams are permitted to play. Honestly, this will have very little effect on our teams since in many cases we were already one game below the allowable limit. In cases where we do reduce the number of games by one again it won’t impact us because our opponents will also be forced to reduce.
Regarding scheduling we have finalized ten games for our football season next year. Having missed out on an NCAA Bid this year we felt it would be very important to add another Division II opponent since the NCAA Selection Committee only makes its selections based on Division II results. While I personally think a win against a higher-Division team should matter that’s not my call to make. We have added a home and home series against Glenville State with next year’s game scheduled for North Andover on September 11th. We have also signed a two-year agreement with BCS Subdivision (I-AA) Bryant. Both games will be in Rhode Island with next year’s scheduled for September 18th.
Finally, I always talk about helping to improve the student-athlete experience. I’ll end with a story of one of our student-athletes impacting the experience of some fans in Wisconsin. This letter was sent to hockey coach Mark Dennehy from Greg Leatherberry in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
It is all too often when society likes to point out the shortfalls of individuals, and we don't hear nearly enough about the positives in life. I would like to share with you something about one of your players who made a positive impression on a youngster.
This past weekend at the Badger Hockey Showdown my son, Owen age 8, met one of your players. The first period had started when about a half dozen or so of your players found some open seats to watch the Badgers/Yale game. My son, who plays mite hockey, watched in awe as these young men filed into the seats. He knew they were hockey players.
I asked him how he knew this and he replied to me "they are dressed the same and they are all wearing hats, just like you make me wear after my games." He saw the MC on several of the players stocking hats and surmised that they were Merrimack players.
; My son asked if he could go sit by them and went across the isle and sat next to the player on the end who happened to be Pat Kimball. I looked over from time to time and saw that they were talking while both paying attention to the play on the ice. The period came to a close and Owen returned to his seat as the players left.
Owen told me all about the player he met, where he was from, his position, favorite hockey and baseball teams and on and on. Pat Kimball was the topic of conversation on the ride home and at breakfast the next morning before school.
I can only imagine that Pat Kimball wasn't in the best of spirits after the close game the night before and dropping a second game earlier in the evening. However, he was still able to have a conversation with a young fan a badger fan at that.
As a student athlete, there are many demands that one must endure, conquer and be successful at which is not always appreciated by the average fan.
Mr. Pat Kimball is fine young man, a true ambassador for the sport of hockey, and a great representative of Merrimack College.
On behalf of my son Owen, Thank you Pat Kimball for the short conversation and a moment of your time.”
It’s letters like this that really make me proud to be associated with Merrimack as I am sure all of you are. Go Warriors!