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Endicott Athletics Part of Miraculous Growth Over 25 Years

When it comes to higher education and athletics, Larry Hiser has never seen anywhere else quite like Endicott College.

The former Endicott athletic director was there at the beginning—25 years ago when the College made the jump to combined NCAA Division III athletics—and what he’s seen since has been nothing short of a “miracle.”

“Endicott did what not many others have been able to do,” recalls Hiser, who now works at Marietta College as the athletic director. “I don’t even know who I would put in Endicott’s class. The stability and speed with which the College has grown is remarkable. Many others tried to imitate the Endicott blueprint after we became successful at it, but didn’t see the stability and success Endicott saw.”

That initial success, both on and off the field, was thanks in large part to former Endicott President, Dr. Richard E. Wylie, whose legendary vision helped turn Endicott into the vibrant institution of higher learning that it is today.

“Certainly Dr. Wylie was the visionary who was putting all kinds of puzzle pieces together, not just athletics,” says Hiser. “I think it was a miracle. It’s hard to put into words. The people there who were putting it all together, it was just a synergy that worked.”

In those first few years of combined athletics, Endicott offered women’s volleyball, women’s soccer, softball, field hockey, women’s cross country, women’s lacrosse, women’s basketball, men’s soccer, men’s lacrosse, men’s cross country, men’s basketball, and baseball. Tupper Hall was the original hub for athletics, as teams played on the open grass field where there’s now the fountain, while basketball was inside what’s now the Wylie Inn & Conference Center.

"Now, Endicott features 700-plus student-athletes across 21 intercollegiate programs and seven club-level programs."

“In the years preceding the move to co-educational and going from a two-year to a four-year institution, we experienced some significant growing pains as any institution would,” says Dr. Brian Wylie, who is the current assistant vice president & director of athletics, as well as the former head lacrosse coach in the mid 1990s.

Attracting men to a campus that for the last 55 years solely focused on the needs of women was a challenge that Endicott took head-on. The people in place worked extremely hard on the continuous improvement of women’s sports and in establishing and growing the male enrollment. Coaches like Hiser and Wylie, along with Dr. Dina Gentile (then the women’s head soccer coach and currently a professor in the School of Sport Science & Fitness) and Sean Quirk (former lacrosse coach and current associate director of athletics), were the ones that helped move Endicott athletics forward.

Now, Endicott features 700-plus student-athletes across 21 intercollegiate programs and seven club-level programs. The impressive resume continues with 91 conference championships and 80 NCAA appearances heading into the 2018-19 academic year; an average grade-point average of 3.31; rankings as high as No. 1 overall in national polls; and more conference titles than any other institution in the Commonwealth Coast Conference since leaving the Great Northeast Athletic Conference.

“We have some of the best and hardest working coaches around, and their collective ability to recruit quality students that excel in the classroom and in their respective sports is what has really been one of the greatest factors of our continued growth and success,” says Brian Wylie.

Facility enhancements have included the Raymond J. Bourque Arena, Hempstead Stadium, the athletic performance center, softball field, a redesigned North Field, and, perhaps most importantly, the Post Sport Science & Fitness Center, which serves as the epicenter for athletics and recreation on campus, as well as overall student engagement.

Field hockey won conference titles in 2011-12
and 2018

“Before the Post Center was built in 1999, we realized the students were leaving on weekends because of the lack of activity on campus,” recalls Brian Wylie. “We needed a place that not only had academic classrooms but also varsity and club sports and a prime space for intramurals and recreation. It was really the bold move of my father, Dr. Wylie, and the authorization of the trustees to recognize not only the need of the Center, but also the impact it would have on the campus culture and student engagement. It was just such an important part to the overall growth of Endicott that transformed the spirit and pride of the student population and retention.”

The original Post Center was 89,000 square feet, and since then the College has added on new space that includes additions to the fitness center in 2010, as well as a new athletic performance center, offices, conference room, and lounge in the fall of 2017. Says Brian Wylie, “All this space has helped greatly but we continued to be challenged with the growing student population and athletic programs added to provide adequate spaces to keep up with all the student activity on campus. It’s a great problem to have.”

That sense of community is something student-athletes feel when they are on campus and long after they leave, and they are embodied by Endicott’s four core standards of L.E.A.D.—commitment, character, effective communication, and confidence. This leveraged the development and theoretical frameworks for Endicott student-athletes.

“Endicott motivated me daily to develop a strong work ethic in a team-centered environment,” says Brittany Kelleher ’11, who played for the women’s basketball team and was a nursing major. “This strong support system inspired me to strive for excellence and compete with pride to achieve success at the highest level possible. Given my experience there, it is no surprise Endicott’s programs continue to grow and stay committed to providing athletes the greatest experience, in the best facilities. I am so thankful for my four years as a Gull as it has provided me friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.”

Learn more about Endicott athletics at Stay tuned for information about a celebration of 25 years of combined athletics, which is planned for the fall.