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Winter 2004

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Miracle on ice

Hockey boosters save program, bolster athletics

Hockey’s a fast game. It was September 17 when Skidmore officials announced the elimination of varsity ice hockey, a victim of the budget ax; by November 17 they announced its salvation thanks to a quickly organized surge of fundraising by alumni, parents, and friends.

The September announcement outlined a restructuring of sports and recreation offerings across the board. To better balance men’s and women’s athletics, extra resources will go to the women’s soccer, tennis, volleyball, softball, and lacrosse teams—in some cases upgrading half-time coaching positions to full-time.

Hockey facts

Team founded: 1978

Coach: Paul Dion, since 1982

League: ECAC East since 1998;earlier, ECAC South

League championships won: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997

Home ice: Saratoga Springs Ice Rink, since 1993; earlier, Saratoga’s old “ice palace” and other venues from Glens Falls to Troy

Reigning top scorer: Joe Doldo ’96 (career: 86 goals, 130 assists)

Reigning goals champ: Rich Hiller ’92 (career: 88; in a season: 39)

Posture of Skidmore fans during play: standing

In addition, offerings will beexpanded in areas like aerobics, yoga, and weight-training for all members of the campus community. As a way to foot those bills, the plan called for ending men’s ice hockey—at $125,000 per year, one of Skidmore’s most expensive sports programs—after this winter season.

“In my heart,” said President Philip Glotzbach in the Albany Times Union, “I didn’t like the idea of eliminating any sports.” But he pointed to a recent comprehensive study that warned that Skidmore athletics, stretched too thin, may need cuts in some areas in order to properly support others.

When the news hit, hockey alumni fired e-mails back and forth, and soon www.saveskidmorehockey.com was lining up petition signatures and encouraging donations. Told the program would need an endowment of about $3 million to generate sufficient annual revenues, the boosters never blinked. By mid-November, they’d made $2.5 million worth of gifts and pledges. (They’d also made quite an impression on administrators and trustees with their passion, dedication, and civility.)

The college will use the funds to cover current athletics operating costs (including for hockey), start an athletics endowment, and revive a Friends of Skidmore Athletics group to continue raising funds and support. Glotzbach said, “This outpouring of support has been very heartening.”

The campaign was led by alumni hockey players from the 1980s and ’90s and by Jim Ricker, father of three ’90s-era players. Noting the close camaraderie among Skidmore hockey players and families, Ricker told the Times Union, “We’ve made a lot of good friends with [my sons’] friends.… These are lasting relationships.” —SR

 


© 2004 Skidmore College