On October 27, the Colgate Women’s Ice Hockey team hosted their first ever Alumnae Weekend. The weekend gave the current players as well as alumni a chance to meet and reflect on the growth the program has made since its inception in the 70s as a club sport.
The program recorded its best season in history last year, posting a record of 34-6-1 as well as qualifying for the national tournament for the first time. They eventually lost in the national championship game in overtime. The team’s success has demonstrated a marked improvement in the program over just the past couple of years, as last year the team nearly quintupled the wins of the 2014-2015 program, which had just seven victories. This year, the team began the season ranked in the top five teams nationally and is now looking to keep up its hot streak by playing one of the toughest schedules in the nation.
Colgate women’s ice hockey started as a club on campus in 1974 and practiced around varsity teams schedules, often late at night or early in the morning. A 1993 Supreme Court decision, Cook vs. Colgate, forced the school to give the team varsity status. They played their first varsity season in 1998, and became full members of Division 1 in 2001, the sport’s first year of being an NCAA recognized sport. The program had its first winning season in 2004-2005 and broke the twenty win mark in 2015- 2016, which also marked the programs first time finishing in the top half of their league.
The idea of the alumnae weekend came from three alumnae of the first club teams, Carol Auster, Madeline Bayliss and Joanne Spigner, all of whom were in the class of 1976. “They wanted to find a way to form a community of support for the program. It started with the simple approach of bringing alumnae back to campus to share cheering for the team and spending time with each other and the team,” Bayliss said.
It was tricky, however, for the team to get everyone together after so long, especially for the years that is was only a club sport. The group used personal emails, website and social marketing on Facebook and Twitter to try and locate former teammates.
The weekend included a dinner with players, team staff, administrators and the alumnae as well as watching the teams weekend games. After, a Facebook group was created so all of the alumni could keep in touch regularly. Plans are already in the works to make this event an annual occurrence.
“It has always been fun and rewarding to be part of the foundation of this sport at Colgate. This weekend highlighted the journey that so many alumnae took to get to where we are today. Every decade brought new advancements. This weekend was the start of bringing this community together,” Bayliss said.
“Colgate alum have a unique capacity to share past experiences yet live in the present with each other. We are excited about the new bonds being formed among alumnae, players, staff, faculty and parents.”
Contact Gideon Hamot at [email protected]