In advance of the 35th anniversary of the Heron nickname, William Smith College Director of Athletics Deb Steward recently announced the creation of the William Smith Athletics Endowment Fund. The campaign is the first step toward providing important permanent financial support for the College’s 12 varsity athletic teams.
35 Years As Herons”As we celebrate 35 years as Herons, this is the perfect opportunity to honor our past and invest in our future Heron student-athletes,” Steward said. “This fund will make a tremendous impact on generations of Herons to come. I’m encouraging all Herons to join me in making a gift to this important endowment fund.”
The endowment is currently 52 percent of the way to its $350,000 goal. Legendary Lacrosse Coach Pat Genovese, who retired in June after 44 years of service to the Colleges, was instrumental in the initial success of fundraising efforts.
“Donating to the William Smith Athletics Endowment Fund is another opportunity to say thank you to a program that gave me so many tools for success, and to honor Pat for her outstanding impact as a Hall of Fame lacrosse coach,” said Cynthia Fults Burke ’87, who played lacrosse and field hockey for Genovese.
During its annual meeting in April, the Heron Society Board of Directors voted to contribute $35,000 to the endowment fund in honor of the upcoming anniversary. Founded in 1983, the Heron Society supports William Smith Athletics with financial assistance and promotes camaraderie among alumnae, parents, and friends.
In 2014-15, ice hockey became the 12th Heron varsity team with volleyball slated to raise that total to 13 by the end of the decade. William Smith has captured seven team national championships, two individual national championships, and 57 conference championships. Heron student-athletes have earned hundreds of All-America awards and countless academic accolades. The endowment fund was created to help maintain this level of excellence as the department expands.
“I give to William Smith Athletics – and now to this endowment fund – because I’m grateful for the experiences I had as an athlete and as a student,” said Jen Bertsch Dolce ’95, a 2002 Heron Hall of Honor inductee. “I have four years of unforgettable memories, and my coaches and teammates remain friends to this day. I believe in the character-shaping experiences that William Smith athletics provides young women, and I want to be sure that excellence is maintained for many more years to come.”
William Smith will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Heron nickname on Oct. 15, 2016, with the induction of the ninth class of the Heron Hall of Honor. Nominations for the Class of 2016 can be submitted online by clicking here.
Prior to the 1981-82 academic year, William Smith teams were known simply as Smithies. In the fall of 1981, a campus-wide contest to find a new nickname was held. During an afternoon field hockey practice, a great blue heron leapt from its hunting spot in Odells Pond and flew gracefully over the practice. That event inspired Mary Stowell Nelson ’82 and Ginger Adams Simon ’83 to submit the Heron into the nickname contest. From more than 175 suggestions, the Heron prevailed as the College’s official mascot.
To make a gift to the William Smith Athletics Endowment, contact Steward at (315) 781-3500 or Director of Leadership Giving Casey Peterson at (315) 781-3700.