By Collin Bolebruch
The State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) underwent major changes over the summer, reshaping Plattsburgh Cardinals conference play going forward.
The Northeast Women’s Hockey League (NEWHL) will transition to the SUNYAC, marking the end of the short-lived conference. SUNYAC women’s hockey will include all the old members of the NEWHL: the Oswego Lakers, Buffalo State Bengals, Morrisville Mustangs, Potsdam Bears, Cortland Red Dragons and Canton Kangaroos. SUNYAC men’s hockey will also admit the Canton Kangaroos this season.
Founded in 2017, the NEWHL was created to counteract the dissolution of the Eastern College Athletic Conference West. The Plattsburgh Cardinals won every NEWHL Championship game, losing just one regular season game during its existence.
The SUNYAC will lose two significant members after the 2023-24 academic year, as both the Brockport Golden Eagles and Geneseo Knights have announced their departure from the conference. The schools are set to join the Empire 8 in every sport aside from ice hockey, which will become members of the United Collegiate Hockey Conference.
Both programs cited student-athlete travel and geographic differences for their decisions. The Eagles and Knights were illustrious in the SUNYAC, winning 265 team championships between them.
Plattsburgh State Athletics saw a shakeup in its communications office last week when Brian Savard and Caleb Phillips both received promotions Sept. 8.
Savard served as head of the Athletics Communications Office for eight years, officially holding the titles of assistant director of athletics for communications and director of athletic communications. He now holds the title of assistant director of athletics, dealing directly with business operations, marketing and sponsorship. Savard will still oversee the communications office.
Phillips has been with the department since March 2022 in the role of athletic communications assistant. He will now be the office’s director of athletic communications, continuing to build the Cardinal Athletics brand.
The Plattsburgh State Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation has announced that the final renovations of Memorial Hall will be completed and opened to the public during the 2023-24 academic year.
Renovations began in 2019, and in 2022, a new lobby, Hall of Fame area, recreation gym, downstairs changing area and a strength and conditioning room were completed.
The final renovations, to be revealed, include a new doctor’s office and hydro room, sports medicine suite, group activity room, locker and team rooms, offices for athletics staff and fitness center personnel, climbing wall, equipment for strength and conditioning, 12,000 square-foot fitness center for students and a finished competition gymnasium.
HALL OF FAME
The Plattsburgh State Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation and the Office of Alumni Relations announced the 38th class of the Plattsburgh State Athletic Hall of Fame, July 19. The Class of 2023 includes Teal Gove, Mike Heymann, Kyle Norchi, Don Verkey and Karen (Wiley) Waterbury.
Gove graduated in 2013, after a successful career with the women’s hockey team. During her time with the Cardinals, Gove was named a two-time AHCA First-Team All-America selection and a two-time ECAC West Player of the Year. She received Player of the Year from D3hockey.com and the New York Hockey Journal in 2012-13. In the same year, the Cards took home an ECAC West Championship.
Heymann, an ‘11 alumnus of the cross country and track and field teams, received numerous national honors during his career. He was named an All-American three times in cross country. As a track athlete, Heymann was a two-time indoor All-American and a two-time outdoor All-American. The SUNYAC awarded him with an appearance on the All-Decade team for both sports.
Norchi finished his men’s lacrosse career in 2012 as the all-time leader in goals with 198 and points with 282. He was named to the All-SUNYAC team all four years of his career, including a first-team appearance. In 2011, Norchi earned a USILA All-American honor.
Verkey is the oldest member of the class, completing his men’s basketball tenure in 1973. During his time at Plattsburgh, Verkey earned two All-SUNYAC honors, including a first-team selection in 1973. In the same year, the Cardinals appeared in the NAIA Tournament. Verkey was a difference-maker on the defensive end, holding the all-time steals record at 296, the single-season record at 183 and the single-game record at 15.
Waterbury helmed Plattsburgh’s women’s soccer program for 23 years. With a 278-151-32 all-time record, it is the second-most wins in SUNYAC history. Waterbury led Plattsburgh to a NYSWCAA Championship in 1996 and SUNYAC and ECAC Championships in 1998. Under Waterbury, the Cardinals reached the NCAA Tournament three times. Waterbury earned All-SUNYAC honors as a player in 1986. She also served as co-head coach of the tennis team for two seasons and completed a stint as director of recreation and club sports.
The ceremony will take place Oct. 13 at the newly-renovated Memorial Hall gymnasium. A cocktail reception will start at 5:30 p.m. in the hall’s lobby until the event commences at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $30 with a reduced rate of $15 for children 12 and younger. Registration ends Oct. 10 at https://alumni.plattsburgh.edu/HallofFame.
The Plattsburgh State Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, advised by Head Women’s Tennis Coach Kelci Henn and Head Women’s Volleyball Coach Kelsea Healis, has named its board members for the 2023-24 academic year.
Amanda Cohen of women’s soccer will serve as the SUNYAC AAC Representative and NCAA Division III National SAAC Representative. Lily White of volleyball and Michaela Schaffer of track and field will share the role of president. Rounding out the board is tennis’ Sarah Benowitz as secretary and volleyball’s Emma Rivers and tennis’ Nicole Svantner as social media representatives.
The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation announced it has hired Travis Rice as assistant men’s basketball coach Sept. 14. Rice played Division III basketball at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Since graduating in 2017, he has spent time coaching AAU and high school basketball. This is his first experience coaching at the collegiate level.
Last season’s assistant, Nick Arnold, will not return. Travis Gorham and Anthony Skiffington are both slated to continue volunteer coaching.
Josh Walker has been hired as assistant women’s lacrosse coach, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation announced Sept. 13. The position remained vacant last season. Walker coached the University of Vermont’s women’s club team to an undefeated season and national championship in 2017. Walker’s last gig was head coach of Mount Mansfield Union High School’s junior varsity team.
Head Coach Kelly Wall will be inducted into the Brockport Athletics Hall of Fame, where she graduated in 2017. Wall is the team’s all-time leader in goals with 184, earned 2017 SUNYAC Offensive Player of the Year and led the Golden Eagles to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA NCAA Tournament in the same year.
The Plattsburgh State club fishing team won the New York – The Bass Federation’s Collegiate Qualifier #1 tournament at Lake George Sept. 9. The tournament served as the qualifier for the state championship at Lake Champlain Oct. 7. Men’s hockey’s Bennett Stockdale caught the largest fish of the tournament at just over five pounds.