From the Desk of Athletic Director Glenn Hofmann
From the Desk of Athletic Director Glenn Hofmann
I just finished listening to an interview with a potential NFL draft pick on 98.5, the Sports Hub, and it reminded me what an enjoyable month of April this has been for me as Director of Athletics at Merrimack!
Like many of my colleagues throughout the country, much of my time is spent in meetings dealing with strategy and business planning or in areas of fundraising. What makes me luckier than many on a college campus is that I get to spend so much time with our students and see them mature from freshmen to seniors.
Shawn Loiseau is a perfect example, and this senior football player was the one who was interviewed on the radio today. Loiseau is also the person who was featured in a Boston Globe story earlier this week, and will no doubt garner even more publicity for Merrimack in the future. All signs point to Shawn being drafted later this week by an NFL team. At the very least, he will likely sign a free agent contract with an NFL team. His head coach, John Perry, saw a determination in Shawn that nobody else saw, and offered him a scholarship to Merrimack four years ago.
Now all of us get to celebrate John’s foresight. Things haven’t always gone smoothly for Shawn in high school or here at Merrimack, but through hard work on and off the field, Shawn has overcome adversity and made the most of his talents. Shawn has represented our school very well, has matured as an individual, and is now one of Merrimack’s best ambassadors.
Shawn’s story is just one of many exciting stories to share this month. Three weeks ago, with life preserver attached, I journeyed out onto the Merrimack River to see our women’s rowing team host the school’s first-ever regatta. Despite the relatively cold temperatures our team performed very well and it was quite an accomplishment to think that we could win a regatta in a sport that we had only started one year earlier.
And then there was this past Saturday. My emotions were torn – we had a Northeast-10 Conference Championship on the line as our men’s tennis team was hosting Bentley at North Andover High School, while at the same time our men’s lacrosse team was playing Bentley at Gillette Stadium. Both were arguably the biggest events of the spring and, unfortunately, both were at the same time. As one of the tennis alums accurately pointed out to me, most ADs would love to have the same predicament. So I started the day at tennis and ended at lacrosse, and thank all those drivers on I-95 who let me pass on the left (and the right) while making my way to Foxboro.
As you no doubt know by now, the tennis team won the match and earned the school’s first-ever Northeast-10 Tournament Championship and will advance to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth-straight season and fifth-time ever. This is quite an accomplishment for a group of six student-athletes who have no on-campus courts to call their own. And their depleted line-up meant that one injury would have forced them to default a match because you need six players to field a full team.
Despite these challenges this group never complained, played a schedule that featured several Division I opponents and some of the top Division II teams in the country, worked tirelessly in the weight room on their conditioning, and earned a team grade point average of 3.44 last semester. Well done.
At Merrimack, we stress the student-athlete experience and the value of athletics from a branding and messaging standpoint. Having a chance to pull into Gillette Stadium and change in the visiting team’s locker room, and then play on the same field as the Patriots, was a memory that many of our players will cherish. It also reminded our staff that Merrimack College has been in the headlines a lot this year, and has truly maximized its external imaging, from televised hockey games to our Merrimack All-Access documentary to playing at Gillette. Greg Melaugh capped the day with the winning goal with just 15 seconds left, his second-game-winning goal in as many games.
At both of these events, I was rewarded by the looks of accomplishment and happiness in the eyes of our student-athletes. And that is why all of us in athletics, and elsewhere in departments that cater to students like Campus Life, are so fortunate. Yes, we spend much of our time in the office. But we also spend an equal amount of time with 18-22 year-old men and women. We get to experience the emotional highs and lows that they experience and we get to see them learn from these experiences.
Watching student-athletes have good experiences and mature into young adults through good and bad is what motivates me every day I come to work. Being able to share these memories with them is why I am so lucky to be Director of Athletics at Merrimack.