The Hampshire College women’s soccer team went undefeated during regular season play. The team’s first loss didn’t come until the Yankee Small College Conference semi-finals, and as a result the team was invited to compete nationally at tournament time.
The season of success came in Hampshire’s first year in the Yankee Small College Conference (YSCC), an athletic league of Northeast colleges. YSCC has given the Hampshire sports teams a more stringent routine, with access to a schedule and community in YSCC. Director of Outdoor Program and Recreational Athletics Bob Garimirian likens the benefits of YSCC to that of a co-op for small college sports.
“We’re playing at a higher level, playing a higher caliber of team than we’ve ever played in the past,” says Garmirian.
Women’s soccer coach Amanda Surgen is quick to point out an unprecedented level of dedication from her players. “There’s not one player on our team whose work ethic I question. This year’s team, from top to bottom, gave 110 percent every drill, practice, and game,” she says. “It’s a dream situation for any coach not to have to worry about finding ways to motivate their team.”
The passion is not isolated to women’s soccer. Troy Hill, who coaches Hampshire men’s basketball, also sees a shift in the culture of sports at Hampshire. “The big thing that has happened is that we've gone from more of a club feel to a place where the student athletes are held accountable,” he says. “The teams have always played to win, and of course that hasn't changed, but the commitment to one another has.”
The women’s soccer team earned a spot in the 2011 United States Collegiate Athletics Association (USCAA) Soccer National Championships, November 3–5, held at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. The championships featured eight teams. The Hampshire team did not win its opening round, but was pleased to compete at the national level.
Third-year student Kira McCoy 09F was “not at all surprised” by the team’s success. “We have a fantastic group of devoted, passionate, positive and feisty women,” she says. “Coach Surgen strikes a perfect balance of challenging us, and creating a welcoming, positive environment for everyone to play in. She showed me that athletics don’t have to be the intimidating, spirit-crushing culture that varsity sports normally perpetuate.”
“We can foster a positive environment while kicking butt,” she says.