Monday, November 9, 2009

School spirit reaches high level

As we hit the home stretch of the fall semester with finals week a month away, our students have gotten a healthy break from the rigors of study to root for several of our sports teams making playoff runs. The success of our fall sports teams is a true testament of the quality balance we have on campus with academics and athletics, where student athletes excel on the playing field and in the classroom. Many more students are great in supporting roles helping these teams as managers and staff, as well as being loyal fans in the stands.

The fall season got off to a great start with our football team gaining national attention as one of the top Division II teams, reaching No. 4 in the rankings before dropping the last three games. Despite those loses, the team ended up ranked sixth in the Super Region but was bumped from the NCAA playoffs due to an obscure rule. I’ve really enjoyed this season, especially joining the cheerleaders on the sidelines doing push-ups after every touchdown. I’ll now be giving my arms and shoulders a rest until next fall.

School spirit hasn’t stopped there as our cross country teams placed well in the conference meet, highlighted by the women’s team finishing second overall. They then finished third in the Atlantic Region championships on Saturday and earned a trip to the NCAA Division II Championships next weekend

It was wonderful to see both soccer teams advanced to the playoffs. For the men’s team, it was their first trip in six seasons. The men lost to No. 1 Millersville in the semifinals, and the women lost to West Chester in the quarter finals. It was wonderful to see the men exceed preseason expectations and the women continuing their established success.

The spotlight, for a special reason this fall, is cast on our traditional national power field hockey team that is again looking strong to compete for the title. A 16th NCAA Division II title is likely would be the icing on the cake as our university prepares to say good-bye to the team’s legendary coach, Jan Hutchinson, who recently announced her intentions to retire after the spring softball season.

In her 32-year career, Hutchinson has amassed more than 1,750 victories coaching field hockey and softball. As head field hockey coach, she is in charge of a program that has won 15 national championships and 16 conference titles in 28 years. As softball coach, she is the NCAA Division II all-time leader in career wins and has made a record 27 consecutive trips to the Division II tournament. But if you really want to know the true impact she has had on our university, just ask any of her current or former players.

As we close the book on another great fall sports season, I continue to be impressed and delighted by our outstanding student-athletes and the contributions they make to Bloomsburg University.

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