From the Desk of Athletic Director Glenn Hofmann
This is the eighth edition of "From the AD's Desk" for 2010-11
How do “we” really judge success, who do we respect most in our conference and why, what is Merrimack Athletics known for and/or what do “we” want our reputation to be. These are just some of the questions I posed to our returning junior student-athletes and captains as well as our coaching and administrative staffs as part of our year-end analysis of the 2010-11 season. At the end of the discussions I also asked are you driven more by the fear of failure or by the enjoyment of success. As you can well imagine each of these questions when combined with our end of the year student-athlete surveys, budgets and review of the goals we set made for interesting and hopefully important conversation that will enable us to continue to improve next year.
In the meantime as I again celebrate Memorial Day weekend in steamy Baltimore as part of my NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Committee duties I figured I would try to at least answer the “success” questions in hopes that it will give you continuing insight into our athletics department and program.
In order to judge success I always come back to our four priorities: student-athlete experience, recruiting, winning and revenue generation. Student-Athlete experience is the most important priority and also the most difficult to measure. Our overall surveys which are submitted by almost all of our student-athletes anonymously tell us that overall our coaching staffs and administration are either outstanding, exceed, or meet expectations.
At the same time the primary areas that are below, or unsatisfactory in the minds of our student-athletes are locker rooms and the strength and conditioning area. The positive about those two areas are that the Volpe expansion project, which is on schedule to begin actual construction in early September, includes new locker rooms and a 5,000 square foot weight room compared to the 850 square foot weight room we have now. Ultimately though the question that means the most to me in the survey is “would you recommend Merrimack to a friend?” About 90% of the student-athletes said yes, which is as high a number as I have ever seen at any institution I have worked.
With regards to winning two teams (hockey, men’s tennis) set school records in wins and joined softball in making the NCAA Tournament. Overall we had the best home winning percentage we have had in five years, while our conference winning percentage was slightly less than last year. Academically we had 15 of our 22 teams earn semester grade point averages of 3.0 or better and 14 of our teams have cumulative team grade point averages over 3.0.
From a recruiting standpoint athletically and academically only time will tell, but we can hold our hat on the fact that we had 105 student-athletes sign national letters of intent compared to only 69 last year. That is a significant and positive increase not only for athletics but also for the College, which in case you haven’t heard is bringing in a freshmen class of approximately 610 students. By comparison this past year’s graduating class was approximately 265! (I told you earlier Merrimack is becoming that “hot” school to attend!).
Revenue generation was very good this year as we surpassed all of our goals which enabled us to renovate Lawler, obviously begin construction plans for the Volpe expansion and finalize some smaller capital projects that impact all of our student-athletes in large part due to an increase of almost $150,000 in hockey ticket revenue. Annual fundraising was up a very significant 27% although I still feel like we have much work to do to get our overall giving percentage higher. The mini-campaigns for tennis courts, a new basketball court and new press box and additional seating at the turf field are still progressing.
I was watching the Maryland-Duke lacrosse game at M&T Bank Stadium with our head coach Mike Morgan on Saturday and commented to him how tough Maryland was playing and how they were attacking the Blue Devils in every instance on the field. They were clearly the more aggressive team. (Full disclosure – I was born in Baltimore and am a Maryland fan!) Maryland won the game to advance to the national championship on Monday. When I thought of the word attack I was reminded that Eric Kapitulik, who runs Judgment Day (leadership and team training program) for our department and many of our teams always talks about the need for our teams and student-athletes to attack. While I couldn’t agree more with Eric I think it also applies to our administrative staff, alumni and fans of our program.
For the most part I think we have made some very good progress, but we can’t be satisfied. And whether it is because of the fear of failure or the desire for success if we continue to attack our challenges and figure out how to meet our goals rather than come up with reasons on why we can’t the number of successes will continue to grow. As always please feel free to e-mail me with any of your positive or “constructive” thoughts/suggestions or on topics you would like me to write about.
I look forward to meeting many of our alumni at reunion weekend in June as well as many of our incoming freshmen parents at orientation this summer.