William Smith College Director of Athletics Deb Steward recently announced the promotion of Sophie Dennis Riskie ’07 to assistant athletic director of student-athlete development. In her new role, she will oversee all aspects of the William Smith Athletics Department’s Peak Performance Plan.
Dennis Riskie joined the coaching staff at her alma mater in 2008 as an assistant field hockey coach. Over the past seven seasons, the Heron field hockey team is 87-46 (.654). William Smith has finished in the top three in the Liberty League standings in each of the past five seasons, winning the regular season and tournament championships in 2012. Dennis Riskie has helped the Herons earn three NCAA Championship bids. In 2011, William Smith was voted the Liberty League Field Hockey Coaching Staff of the Year. In 2009, she took on added responsibility as the coordinator of student-athlete wellness.
Dennis Riskie will continue to coach field hockey in addition to her new responsibilities.
“Sophie is an integral member of our athletic department,” Steward said. “She has helped expand our Peak Performance Plan from a wellness program to an enriched leadership and life skills development program which impacts every Heron student-athlete and staff member. Sophie’s commitment ensures that our objectives are met and we execute all aspects of our Peak Performance Plan.”
The Peak Performance Plan is a comprehensive educational curriculum fostering personal and athletic development through the education and empowerment of women and coaches of female student-athletes. The plan emphasizes leadership and life skills development and impacts approximately 270 William Smith student-athletes.
The leadership curriculum is comprised of five workshops for members of The Core and Rising Stars that are led by sports consultant, Dr. Tiffany Jones ’99. Heron student-athletes are self-selected or encouraged by their coaches to join either Rising Stars or The Core. Rising Stars are high potential first-years or first time members of the leadership program. Rising Stars workshops provide future leaders with insights, strategies and skills necessary to become effective leaders. Leadership by example and first followership are emphasized.
The Core is comprised of proven veteran leaders who have completed Rising Stars or are in their senior year. The program provides these leaders with critical skills and insights necessary to be responsible and respected leaders. Vocal leadership and being ‘A’ leader or ‘The’ leader are emphasized.
Life skills programming is also conducted for all Heron student-athletes. Topics have included sleep, nutrition, marketing your athletic career, social media, self-defense, time management, using sports for positive social change, and financial management. Guest speakers have included American Olympic ice hockey player Julie Chu, sleep and performance expert Dr. James B. Maas, professional soccer player Kendall Fletcher, and American Olympic rowing gold medalist Meghan Musnicki.
In addition, the Peak Performance Plan includes professional development for coaches and support staff.
As coordinator of student-athlete wellness, Dennis Riskie helped Steward coordinate meetings and activities with the William Smith Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). As assistant director of athletics, Dennis Riskie will be the lead advisor to the SAAC. The SAAC provides a mechanism for communication and to promote activity between student-athletes, the athletic department, and the campus community.
Dennis Riskie is the most dominant offensive player in the history of William Smith field hockey. She broke the Heron career records for goals (89), assists (39), and points (217). Dennis Riskie was a three-time NFHCA All-American and a four-time All-Liberty League selection. The conference leader in goals scored in each of her four seasons, Dennis recorded a school record 70 points as a senior. Among NCAA Division III all-time leaders, she is 16th in career points and tied for 18th in career goals.
Dennis Riskie earned a bachelor’s degree in sports in society from William Smith and a master’s degree in sport management and media from Ithaca College.