ATH: Tight-Knit Group Helps Hofstra To Fall Success
Courtesy: Hofstra Athletic Communications
Hempstead, NY - Walk down the hallways of the second floor of the Mack Physical Education Center and you'll notice the coaches of Hofstra's fall sports programs are close to one another. Literally.
In a span of less than 50 feet, you can traverse through the headquarters of the men's and women's soccer teams as well as the field hockey and volleyball programs. Perhaps the propinquity of the offices has helped the fall sports feed off the success of each other. Both Hofstra's women's soccer team and the volleyball squad captured Colonial Athletic Association championships last month while the men's soccer team advanced to the CAA championship game. Field hockey qualified for the conference tournament for the eighth time in nine years.
“I am extremely proud of the effort put forth by our student-athletes and coaches during the fall season,” stated Hofstra University Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeffrey A. Hathaway. “They have all shown the value and results derived from hard work and commitment to one another. I hope their successes will serve both as inspiration and a catalyst for the rest of our teams.”
A Few Notes About The Fall Season
Three fall Hofstra athletic teams (women’s soccer, men’s soccer and volleyball)
appeared in their respective Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) title
Hofstra was one of only two CAA schools to qualify for the women’s soccer, men’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball CAA Championships. Northeastern was the other.
With volleyball and women’s soccer earning CAA titles and qualifying for their respective NCAA Tournaments, it marks the Pride’s most successful fall in terms of conference titles since 2006 when volleyball and men’s soccer both advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
This year marked the first time since 2008 that Hofstra has had women’s soccer, men’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball all qualify for their respective CAA Championships.
But while physical proximity brings the teams together, there is also a close-knit support system that has made the on-field success even more enjoyable.
"It's a small community and it's gratifying to see people you admire and respect get rewarded for all their hard work," Hofstra Women's Soccer Head Coach Simon Riddiough said. "You see players on other teams all the time and get to know them, and you just want to see them do well. When everyone is successful, it creates a culture of winning."
The Hofstra women's soccer team qualified for the NCAA Tournament after defeating William and Mary in double overtime for the program's third CAA title. Under Head Coach Kristina Hernandez, the volleyball team won three matches in three days as the fourth seed to capture the program's first conference title since 2006. Hernandez's group pulled off a thrilling upset in the semifinals, defeating top seed and host Towson on its home court. That victory came against a Tigers squad that was 12-0 in regular season CAA play and had only lost a total of six sets all season in conference action.
"It's an honor to be a part of a successful season with the rest of our fall sports," Hernandez said. "When we can all experience and enjoy our accomplishments together, it makes the whole experience special."
With two fall teams making NCAA appearances (volleyball fell to Florida State while women's soccer dropped a first-round decision to Boston College), Hofstra once again found its way into the national tournament, building on the success of the softball team's appearance in the Super Regional round in the spring.
"We're all close and when everyone is successful, it adds a lot of energy and really galvanizes everyone," Men's Soccer Head Coach Richard Nuttall said. "It makes the job that much more pleasant when good things are happening for people you've known for a long time."
While the soccer, volleyball and field hockey teams completed succesful seasons, Hofstra's other fall sport teams also enjoyed a bit of success. In October the Hofstra men's cross country team posted a second place finish at the 2012 St. John's University Cross Country Fall Festival and freshman Sean Flannery represented Hofstra at the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Cross Country Northeast Regional. On the women's side, freshman Becky Celorio posted a time of 15:38 to capture the 2012 St. John's University Women's Cross Country Fall Festival at Cunningham Park.
While sharing facilities, a parking lot and a logo can help build camaraderie between the athletic programs, a strong bond exists at Hofstra because of the longevity of the head coaches. Nuttall is in his 24th year at the school. Walk a few paces out of his office and you will find the front door of Softball Head Coach Bill Edwards, who is also in his 24th season at the school. Riddiough played for Nuttall, graduating from Hofstra in 1994. He just concluded his seventh season as the head coach and has been on the coaching staff for 16 years total.
"I've seen Simon grow first as a player and then as a coach, and I'm extremely proud he came out of our program and created a great path for himself in life," Nuttall said of Riddiough. "I think he's one of the best women's soccer coaches in the country and I get a lot of satisfaction out of his success."
Like Riddiough, Kathy De Angelis is also in her second decade at Hofstra having just wrapped up her 15th season as the head coach. Along with Nuttall and Riddiough, she's seen Hofstra grow with improved facilities, workout amenities and conference changes. But the support and respect each coach has for each other has remained the same.
"It's exciting and motivating at the same time when you see the other programs doing so well," De Angelis said. "Part of what makes working here so special is the continuity. We've all gone through a lot together and we're privileged to be a part of it. We've seen a lot of changes and when one program does well, we feel like we're part of that success."
Added Hernandez: "It's an amazing feeling to be able to not only enjoy your own programs success, but to be a part of something big that's happening within the entire athletic department.
"It's a privilege to be a part of what Hofstra Athletics represents and other teams successes are our successes as well and help us strengthen our programs. Having all the fall sports smiling in our hallways makes everything better."