From the Desk of Athletic Director Glenn Hofmann
It was a week to remember not so much for the events that took place, but for the underlying message that both subtly, and not so subtly, kept coming up whether in Hartford, Albany, Manhattan, North Andover, St. Petersburg, FL., or Durham, NH.
The message was simple – make the most of the opportunities that present themselves and give everything you have in order to achieve your goals because you never know when the opportunities will end.
Accompanied by our Assistant Athletic Director, Will Rothermel, I traveled to the University of Hartford on Thursday to meet with their Athletic Director. We did the same thing the next day at the University at Albany. These travels are part of our ongoing effort to meet with individuals from Division I schools as we continue to explore a possible change in NCAA classification. At each school we were pleased to find that the Merrimack brand is one that people are aware of and one that carries with it a level of excitement, momentum and opportunity. We were told as we have been on many other visits that given all that is happening at the NCAA level this is a good time to explore and analyze our classification.
Thursday night along with President Christopher Hopey, our Assistant Chief of Staff, Michael Accardi and our lead Advancement Officer, Heather Stacchi, Merrimack hosted a fundraising event with some of our leading donors in Manhattan. The excitement at the dinner was palpable and encouraging given the success the ten or so Merrimack alumni who were in attendance have had in their careers. Dr. Hopey spoke about the direction of the College and its future.
Friday, we flew home and prior to the home hockey game against New Hampshire we had our first meeting of the Athletics Directors Advisory Board. If you are interested in Merrimack Athletics (and if you are reading this you no doubt are) then you should feel very good about the group we have assembled. Comprised of alumni, parents and donors, the group is committed to advancing the department both financially and strategically. To say they are enthusiastic about the mission would be an understatement. We have much work to do, but every member of this group has embraced the challenges we face and the opportunities that are in front of us.
Friday night, the hockey team hosted New Hampshire. Honestly it wasn’t the team’s best effort, which was surprising given how consistently hard this program works. Following the 2-1 loss, as usual, head coach Mark Dennehy gave a poignant post-game speech. He spoke about the need to take advantage of your opportunities because you never know when the opportunities will diminish.
On Saturday, senior Shawn Loiseau participated in the prestigious East-West Shrine football game in sunny Florida. Very few Division II players are invited to this all-star game. Shawn was not only invited, but he also had a tremendous week of practice and played very well in the game. Talk about taking advantage of your opportunities – word from NFL scouts is that Shawn may now be drafted in one of the late rounds of the April draft! Regardless of his draft status, he will likely sign a free agent contract. Click here to read about Loiseau’s week
Now, I ask you to recall Coach Dennehy’s Friday night speech. On Saturday night, the hockey team played its typical maximum effort game and was rewarded by earning a 3-2 overtime win at New Hampshire. The win moved Merrimack into second place in Hockey East.
Unfortunately just 15 seconds into the game, senior Carter Madsen suffered a gruesome season-ending injury when he went crashing feet-first into the boards behind the UNH net. Carter has always been one of the hardest working players on the team and was a key member of last year’s record setting team and an integral part of this year’s squad. I visited him in the hospital on Sunday in New Hampshire. He was still in pain, but in typical Carter fashion his first statement when I saw him was, “Great win last night!” Ironically the win came courtesy of a goal by junior John Heffernan, who hadn’t been in the lineup since December 2.
Just talking with Carter, brief though it was, capped off a strange and emotional week. We all continue to talk about the exciting opportunities that exist at Merrimack and within the athletics department. We talk about how we can transform the place, reach new levels of success never thought possible and, within athletics, build new facilities, reach new levels of competitiveness and continue to improve the experience of our student-athletes.
And we can and we will do all of the above. But we can’t wait. We need to continue to be aggressive in everything we are trying to do. We can’t accept “no” as an answer and we have to work hard and strategically every day. Because as this weekend proved, no matter how talented we are as individuals, as a team or as an organization you never know when the opportunities will end.
*Kudos to our student-athletes for earning a 3.07 first-semester grade-point-average, better than the entire student-body as a whole.
*Many of you have been asking about the Volpe Expansion Project. We continue to work with both Andover and North Andover on the project and are making excellent progress. This project timeline has been very aggressive from the start and we should be able to give you more of an update within the next month.
*Congratulations to Anne Rounce, who was named National Field Hockey Coach of the Year.