Ice hockey expansion reinforces team identity and culture
At the top of the wall inside the Skidmore men’s ice hockey team’s newly constructed locker room at Saratoga Springs City Rink, three words are emblazoned in school green: RESPECT, EXCELLENCE, TEAM.
The 3,200-foot expansion, which extends beyond the team’s home bench area and includes a changing room, training room, and coaches' office, “helps to establish a sense of identity and build a strong team culture,” says Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of Athletics Gail Cummings-Danson. “Both are vital ingredients necessary to compete at the highest level.”
Goalie Tate Brandon ’24 agrees that the new facilities have a big impact.
“The new locker room provides a much more professional space for our team to get ready for games and practices,” he says. “We are very fortunate to have this space, and I feel that we show it with the effort, day in and day out, through practices and games. The locker room is a microcosm of how far our program has come, and just how far it will go.”
The Thoroughbreds — undefeated and ranked 13th nationally in NCAA Division III as of this writing — are off to a strong start, including a hard-fought tie Nov. 17 against then ninth-ranked Norwich at the annual Pack the Rink event in front of a near-sellout crowd of over 1,100.
The following weekend on Nov. 26, the team faced off against Brockport in the Skidmore Thanksgiving Invitational title game; officially recorded as a 2-2 tie, Brockport won the overtime shootout.
Though disappointed not to get the victory, Head Coach Rob Hutchison '07, who played for Skidmore from 2003 to 2007, is a hall of famer, and has coached at his alma mater since 2015, is pleased with the season to date and grateful for what the new locker room and support space bring to the men’s ice hockey program – in both real and symbolic terms.
“We've been fortunate to have had some success in recent years, but to sustain it, we certainly needed an upgrade to the facility. By providing a top-notch facility to help us compete in the top Division III hockey conference, Skidmore’s commitment to our program and athletics in general is clearly on display. I am happy for the current and future players who will have the opportunity to call this place home.”
“The new facilities are excellent and have really helped bolster our team and make everyone excited about coming to the rink,” says Everett Wardle ’24. “Being right next to the bench and having more space and a bigger training room allows for all the guys to be prepared for every practice."
Along with the construction of the McCaffery-Wagman Tennis and Wellness Center, it’s all part of Skidmore’s commitment to supporting the comprehensive development of every student.
The expansion is a result of a partnership between Skidmore and the city of Saratoga Springs that allows the College to build a new locker room complex while enabling the city to make a number of other planned improvements to its ice rink facilities.