Every Monday and Wednesday morning I teach a “Special Topics” sports management class at 8:00 a.m. To be honest, it is often the best part of my day because it allows me to work directly with not only student-athletes but also students in general. I get a different perspective hearing from the general student body while at the same time giving them perspectives from the athletic department. Despite the early time of class we usually have some spirited discussions ranging from “important” topics such as conference realignment and the role of athletics at a college to “really important” topics such as why did the Red Sox choke down the stretch!
I found it ironic that yesterday (Wednesday) we began a new discussion that had been scheduled in the syllabus when I wrote it back in August on Title IX legislation and gender equity. The discussion from my standpoint couldn’t have come at a better time. The legislation was enacted in the early 1970’s to give more and most importantly equal opportunities for females to participate in a wide range of activities including sports. The results have been profound as the number of females participating at all levels of sports including at the intercollegiate level have steadily increased.
Over the last five days, Martone-Mejail field on our campus was the site of two of the most exciting and important athletics events of my 2 ½ years here at Merrimack. Last Saturday our women’s soccer team beat defending conference champion and then 7th ranked St. Rose 3-0. Our team is tough, physical and very skilled and dominated for most of the game as they truly established themselves as one of the top teams in the country as our #15 national ranking indicates. Then on Tuesday night before almost 1,000 raucous fans our field hockey team, which is now ranked fourth nationally beat defending national champion UMass-Lowell 2-1 to clinch the program’s first conference regular season championship. Our team came out, much as the women’s soccer team had done three days earlier, and attacked Lowell. After a season full of injuries last year head coach Anne Rounce’s team worked extremely hard last spring and summer, and those efforts have resulted in success. Both teams still have their eyes and focus on the postseason, but for everyone who was at either of those games it was certainly a time to take a step back and celebrate their achievements.
A bit overlooked has been our women’s cross country team, which competes this weekend in the Northeast-10 Championships. After finishing sixth last year, the team has shown tremendous improvement and is expected to continue to jump in the standings at Sunday’s championships. Women’s tennis led by first-year head coach Sean Tully also had a terrific fall season and looks like they will move up significantly in the conference standings this spring. While they haven’t played a game yet, one needs only to go into the weight room early in the morning or walk into the gym to sense the excitement and enthusiasm that first-year head coach Monique LeBlanc has instilled in our women’s basketball program. And finally don’t be misled by our volleyball team’s record. While we have struggled to get wins the team is continuing to play hard under first-year head coach TJ Hajjar and at many times has an entire team of freshmen starting. It won’t be long until they start turning close losses into wins.
It will be quite a weekend on campus as we celebrate Homecoming and Family Weekend. The weather is predicted to be beautiful and the college has planned a full weekend’s worth of athletics and non-athletics events. For a complete schedule of events click the link below. We have also included a link to purchase athletics tickets. Four of our teams are in action this weekend at home. Friday night after fireworks at 6:30 p.m. the hockey team hosts Northeastern at 7:30 p.m. We kick off our Saturday athletics activities with an 11:00 a.m. ceremony in which we will dedicate the Volpe court in the name of Bert Hammel. At 1:00 p.m. the football team hosts Stonehill which will be followed by the men’s soccer game vs. Bentley at 5:00 p.m. We conclude Saturday with a hockey game against UConn at 7:00 p.m. On Sunday, the field hockey team hosts Adelphi at 12:00 p.m.
I hope to see you all this weekend. Go Warriors!
For Homecoming/Family Weekend Schedule