The LIU Post Division I women’s ice hockey team brought home a championship in February in the squad’s inaugural season. But they also helped open the doors for yet another team within the university.
Two months later, the Sharks announced they would be expanding even further, with the creation of a Division I men’s hockey team.
“We are very proud of the season that we had,” women’s hockey head coach Rob Morgan said. “We experienced a lot of growth over the course of the season. We stuck together and worked hard at being the best at getting better each day. To hear our program’s success is serving as a springboard to launch the men’s ice hockey team makes all of us involved feel a great sense of pride in our accomplishments.”
It certainly appears that the success of the women’s team this past season made the idea of bringing in a men’s team all the more alluring. However, there is much more that goes into the success of the program.
“Whether or not we had won, I feel success of the program is measured seven years after our student-athletes first arrived on campus,” Morgan said. “Whether or not our students graduated on time, had a great student-athlete experience, gained meaningful employment experience and became proud alumni are key components as well. To me, if our program has helped our student-athletes accomplish those things, it is successful.”
Adding the men’s program gives more student-athletes a chance to continue their careers at the college level.
“I think LIU is becoming a leader in college athletics,” Morgan said. “Across the country, we see colleges cutting sports. At LIU Post, we are growing our athletics program offerings. Having a men’s team alongside our women’s team is going to add to our overall student-athlete experience.”
At the moment, the men’s team has yet to name their first head coach, but that person will need certain qualities to meet the task at hand of developing a first-year ice hockey program from the ground up.
“Our new coach is going to require a lot of patience and stick-to-itiveness,” Morgan said. “Certainly, our new coach is going to come in with experience and knowledge that is necessary to lead the development of our new program. Having a good perspective and not comparing the men’s program to the women’s program is important as well. The women’s program had a conference to play in and a championship to play for.”
The men’s team needs to create their own identity in their first season, but might look to emulate some of the preparation that helped the women’s team find success.
“Regarding the balance of development versus winning, we had a heavier focus on development and culture building in the first half of the season,” Morgan said. “We knew that if we could get our foundational culture right, that we could build a championship program. I know our men’s coach will put a great plan in place.”