Message from the President: National champions!

March 30, 2011

To our alumni friends:

After a thrilling 4-3 win over Adrian College to claim St. Norbert’s second NCAA Division III national hockey championship, the Green Knights players were continuing their raucous celebration in the locker room in Minneapolis’ Ridder Arena Saturday night. I had the privilege of joining them for a few minutes to offer congratulations on behalf of the college and the nearly 1,000 Green Knights fans who had turned out to root them on to victory.

When I’d said my piece, a sly grin came across the face of freshman defenseman Zach McDonald. "Does this mean we get Monday off?" he asked, to much laughter.

I thought a moment. "Only for the hockey team," I said – to yet another victory roar.

All year long Coach Tim Coghlin saw his young men play with a discipline and quiet ferocity that got them to the top of the national rankings, a level of respect that was validated with the team’s second Frozen Four championship in just four years. Their first came in 2008 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

In the middle of this amazing year, Tim also realized a more personal accomplishment – he has now had more victories than any other coach in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association. And for those of you who know Tim, you also appreciate that he does things the "right" way: his young men are expected to play aggressively but fair; to hit the books as hard as the boards; and to carry themselves at all times as representatives of St. Norbert College.

We invite alumni to join the rest of the SNC community in celebrating the team's achievement and to recognize the players this Thursday, March 31, at 8 p.m. in Schuldes Sports Center.

Saturday’s hockey championship punctuates what has been one long highlight reel for winter sports at St. Norbert College:

* Also on the ice, this year SNC launched a women’s hockey team. Coach Rob Morgan’s charter class was composed entirely of freshmen, but they belied no freshman nerves in skating to a remarkable 12-11-4 record and right into the NCHA O’Brien Cup playoffs. The young ladies were great fun to watch, and they are literally just getting started.

* The men’s basketball team barnstormed through the Midwest Conference on its way to both the regular-season and tournament championship. Gary Grzesk’s team advanced to the NCAA D-III tournament for the second consecutive year and fourth time in school history, finishing with a 20-6 record.

* And under "coach of coaches" Connie Tilley, the women’s basketball team had yet another spectacular season. Like the men, they swept both the MWC regular-season and tournament championships, and they played in the NCAA’s for the tenth time in school history. The lady Green Knights wound up 23-3.

In the middle of all these glad winter tidings, even Jim Purtill’s football team made big news. We announced a few weeks ago that the football Green Knights will open their 2012 season playing Ohio’s John Carroll University – in Dublin, Ireland.

The game is part of the Global Ireland Football Tournament (GIFT). It will occur on Friday, August 31, 2012, and it will mark the first time in 20 years that a Division III regular-season game has been played abroad. The following day, also in Dublin, Notre Dame will take on Navy, and those Green Knights fans traveling on official charters for our game will also have a ticket to the historic Notre Dame-Navy contest.

Indeed, we are hoping that a lot of SNC alums, fans, parents and friends will join us for the Ireland excursion. Information about a travel package will be available in April's edition of the @St. Norbert e-newsletter.

For now, congratulations again to Coach Coghlin and his hard-skating national champions. And my thanks as well to all our coaches and players, who make us proud not only in the winter, but in spring, summer and fall.

Tom