By Pat Mariboe
Shoremen and Shorewomen from far and wide flocked to Washington College on Saturday, April 7 for the Goose Nation Family Reunion. Alumni from the men’s soccer team, women’s soccer team, and field hockey team reconnected with their old coaches and teammates and tested the current undergraduates on the field. While all of the varsity sporting events were cancelled due to inclement weather, the three alumni games were played with full force.
The first team reunion of the day was the field hockey team, who, after a successful past season, was looking forward to catching up with former team greats.
While Head Coach Anne Kietzman has only been with the program for a short time, the close Shorewomen connection is ever-present.
The team made the playoffs this past season for the first time since 2014, which indicates that the sky is the limit for this promising group of athletes.
With a strong alumni presence, the current team looks to learn and develop as much as possible in the upcoming years.
Liza Slavin, senior, had the special honor of playing on the alumni team.
For fall sport athletes, the current seniors who completed their fourth seasons are considered alumni. For her, it was an experience she’ll never forget and she looks forward to being active in the program for years to come.
“I would say that it went really well and was very successful,” Slavin said. “We had a good amount of girls come out from ranging years past and it was fun to be a part of the program from the other side. Being a WCFH alumni is something to be so proud of and it is cool to see a bunch of girls from years past still care about and love the program enough to come out and enjoy the day.”
Junior standout Olivia Auer shared similar feelings and she said she was happy with how the day unfolded.
“It was awesome having the alumni back at WC for the game,” she said. “Seeing some of our old teammates was fun and they gave us a good challenge.”
Following field hockey was women’s soccer. Head Soccer Coach Tom Reilly was excited to see past members of the program, but was also looking forward to seeing his current side perform in the game.
“We are anxious to get on the field and be able to play 11 versus 11, as our roster numbers in the spring aren’t big enough to support full sided games in practice,” he said. “The girls have been working hard in the weight room and on the practice field but nothing can replicate playing games. It will be fun to get back on a full field again.”
Reilly emphasized the importance of a strong alumni connection and planning greater things to come.
“We feel strongly that creating and keeping direct connection between the program and our alumni is very important and something we are making a concerted effort to foster,” he said.
Reilly said the team is launching a mentoring program where women’s soccer graduates mentor current students pursuing the same or similar career paths.
“For instance, an alumna who has gone on to become a doctor can help guide a younger player through her undergraduate degree or how to navigate medical school or the MCAT test procedures,” he said.
Reilly said the team has about 15 alumna who have signed up for the mentor program, and he is excited to see the program grow.
The third and final fall sport alumni game was men’s soccer.
“I’m always happy to see our alums and to catch up on news. One of the truly gratifying developments with our alums is that many of them still play together on a men’s league team,” said Roy Dunshee, Head Coach of the men’s soccer team. “The team is quite strong and comprised almost entirely of WC alums. It’s fantastic that they still play regularly and that they are still together. It makes me really happy. Of course, this will make them very difficult to beat on Saturday but we know we will get a quality game and that can only help our boys.”
It was building up to be a particularly special day for a member of the men’s soccer family and Class of 2016 graduate Chris Koch, who played on the team for all four years and is currently serving as the team’s assistant coach.
“I am excited for this weekend,” he said. “Looking forward to seeing lots of old friends and teammates but also looking forward to seeing out team compete for the first time in a number of months. We should have a big turnout from former players and their families and it is always a fun, but competitive game.”