Hobart and William Smith Colleges have set in motion plans to expand varsity sport offerings with the addition of women’s ice hockey and women’s volleyball during the next six years. The two additions will bolster the William Smith athletics lineup to 13 intercollegiate teams. The Colleges anticipate competing as members of the ECAC West for women’s ice hockey and the Liberty League for volleyball.
“The addition of these two varsity sports allows us to respond to a growing desire on the part of our students for greater offerings in women’s athletics,” says Vice President for Student Affairs Robb Flowers. “By adding these sports, we are expanding the Colleges’ ability to draw top students who are seeking an academically rigorous education that includes a strong athletic program with a diversity of offerings.”
Women’s ice hockey has become a collegiate draw over the past decade as more youth leagues have made the sport available to young girls. William Smith students have been playing ice hockey since the early 1980s when an ice hockey club was formed on campus. Since 2004, the club has become very strong, maintaining a roster of more than 20 women who place well among a competitive schedule of teams from Cornell, Oswego, Geneseo, Syracuse, St. Lawrence, and others. The Herons anticipate joining the competitive ECAC West, which includes schools such as Elmira, Plattsburgh State, Neumann and Buffalo State.
Since the first NCAA women’s volleyball championships were played in 1981, volleyball has become increasingly popular with an estimated 46 million Americans playing the sport. From 1962 through 1974, volleyball was a varsity sport at William Smith. Today, it is one of the highest participation intramural sports with approximately 90 William Smith participants each year. In the Liberty League, the Herons will compete against a slate of highly competitive teams, including Skidmore, Clarkson, Vassar and RIT.
“We have long known that student-athletes are among the most academically accomplished and civically engaged on our campus,” says President Mark D. Gearan. “As we prepare to launch these two new sports, we are also launching new opportunities for our students to take on leadership roles and to learn the lessons of teamwork and time management that are inherent in athletic competition.”
The average grade point average of William Smith student-athletes is 3.4. During the 2011-12 academic year, Hobart and William Smith athletes earned 154 all-academic awards at the conference, regional and national levels.
“This is an incredible time to be a Heron,” says William Smith Athletic Director Deb Steward. “With such a long history of participation in ice hockey and volleyball at the club and intramural levels, we are eager to see our two new teams achieve varsity status and to join the culture of success that defines William Smith athletics.”
The search for an ice hockey head coach is underway. This marks the Colleges’ first addition to its intercollegiate athletic programs since the Herons added golf during the 2003-04 academic year. Ice hockey and volleyball will join William Smith’s basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, rowing, sailing, soccer, squash, swimming and diving, and tennis teams.
Since William Smith teams began competing in the early 1970s, the Herons have enjoyed notable intercollegiate success. The Herons’ 11 varsity teams have received 133 invitations to NCAA or other postseason competition that have resulted in six national championships, 13 second place finishes and 18 third place finishes as well as six ECAC Championships and 44 Liberty League championships. William Smith boasts some of the finest student-athletes in the nation. Collectively they have earned 235 All-America awards and 340 All-Region Awards. Since 2000, 17 student-athletes have been named to the prestigious Capital One Academic All-American Teams, several more have earned Academic All-District honors while dozens have been listed on their conference’s academic honor roll.