Merrimack athletic director Jeremy Gibson released a letter to Merrimack alumni and supporters on Tuesday, detailing the success the department has enjoyed over the last year. As part of the letter, he also addresses the recent decision to make a coaching change with the men’s hockey program:
“It would be easy for us to grow content with all we have achieved, but we are Warriors and complacency is not in our DNA. The college’s success – and athletics’ success in particular – has come from a relentless drive toward excellence, strong supporters who have invested in new ideas, and the willingness to make, sometimes, difficult changes. The past several years at Merrimack, under the strong leadership of President Hopey, have seen transformational changes fueled by strengthened investments and heightened expectations – the combination of these factors has resulted in unprecedented levels of success. The deep pool of talented candidates emerging in the search for our next men’s ice hockey reinforces that this program is poised for similar successes.
“I was recently told to “never apologize for trying to get better.” In the coming days, weeks and months, we will pursue an even loftier level of excellence through continued investment in our athletic district, hiring of a new coaches, and competition for even more championships by our spring teams and student-athletes.”
According to sources, there have been more than 50 candidates who have expressed interest in the Merrimack opening; their experience level ranges from junior hockey coaches all the way through NCAA assistants, NCAA head coaches, minor pro (ECHL/AHL) head coaches and NHL assistant coaches.
Gibson also included in his letter a list of accomplishments for the department; he was in Florida last week as part of annual meetings with the college’s with the Board of Trustees.
For the past few days I have had the pleasure of joining Merrimack College’s senior leadership at a series of meetings with our Board of Trustees. It was an opportunity to reflect on the amazing accomplishments we have enjoyed this year as an institution and, more importantly, to envision and chart the exciting future for our College.
I was so proud to review all the successes that have already been made during the 2017-18 academic year – one of the greatest in our athletic program’s history that have contributed to the pride and energy that permeate our campus. Among the highlights:
- In October, we opened Merrimack Stadium – a beautiful new home for Commencement, and to our football, field hockey, men’s & women’s lacrosse, and track & field teams as well as club sport and intramural programs.
- Martone-Mejail Field was renovated as the improved home for our men’s & women’s soccer teams, and was modified to be the new home for our softball program – one of the only synthetic turf softball fields in our region.
- The Athletics Hall of Fame returned in grand fashion in October, as the College renovated the Volpe Athletic Center lobby to include a brand-new Hall of Fame, All-Americans and Championship gallery. The Athletic Department then welcomed back all prior Hall of Fame inductees for the honoring of the Class of 2017, which included 12 new inductees and the first-ever representatives from the sports of volleyball, women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s lacrosse.
- Homecoming Weekend 2017 saw over 8,000 fans fill Merrimack Stadium for the official grand opening, highlighted by a 44-10 victory by the football team over Pace as part of a spectacular afternoon.
- Our partnership with the Islanders Hockey Club and owner, Richard Gallant, continues to open the door to Merrimack for thousands of young boys and girls hockey players and their families coming to our campus every week and reinforces our ability to provide important resources to our student-athletes.
From a competitive standpoint, this season has seen a number of historic moments through two-thirds of the year.
- The men’s soccer team won its first NE10 Championship in 20 years with a thrilling overtime victory at home over rival Bentley, which pushed the team to its fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
- Merrimack was the only school in the NE10 to have its men’s soccer, women’s soccer and field hockey programs all qualify for the NE10 Championship, with the women’s soccer team posting an upset over #1 Adelphi in the league tournament.
- The men’s cross country team made history by qualifying for the national championships for the first time in school history after a third-place finish at regionals.
- Merrimack hosted the NE10 women’s golf championship for the first time ever at Haverhill Country Club and saw Krystal Knight win the tournament’s individual title in come-from-behind fashion to cap off a second-place team finish.
- Led by second-year head coach Joe Gallo, the men’s basketball team won 20 games for the first time this decade and advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s regional semifinal round for the second year in a row.
- The women’s basketball team posted its most wins (15) in five years while earning another trip to the NE10 Championship.
- Following last year’s multiple national championships by Honda Athlete of the Year, Carly Muscaro ’17, junior Michaela Pernell finished as a two-time All-American during the indoor track & field season, qualifying for nationals in both the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes.
- The spring has already seen a number of teams soar out of the gate: coming off last year’s national championship game appearance, men’s lacrosse is off to a strong start and is joined in the national rankings now by women’s lacrosse who already has more wins than it did in each of the previous four seasons and has beaten two ranked teams. The softball team also earned its first national ranking since 2012 after starting the year 12-1, and men’s tennis is poised for its 11th straight NCAA Tournament appearance.