ST. MARY'S CITY, Md. - Beginning in the fall of 2020, the St. Mary's College of Maryland field hockey team will compete as an affiliate member of the Atlantic East Conference (AEC), the league announced today (Sept. 16).
"It is important to us that our students have the best opportunities to challenge themselves and grow intellectually, athletically, socially, and emotionally in all of our programming," said Tuajuanda C. Jordan, president of St. Mary's College. "We believe the opportunity presented by the field hockey affiliation with the AEC satisfies these criteria and is in the best interest of our student-athletes at this time."
The addition of the Seahawks will bring the total in the league to seven field hockey teams, qualifying the Atlantic East for an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament after two seasons for the sport. They will join current core members of the league including: Cabrini University, Gwynedd Mercy University, Immaculata University, Marywood University, Neumann University, and Wesley College.
"St. Mary's College of Maryland looks forward to partnering with our colleagues in the Atlantic East Conference. We believe this is a great fit and a tremendous opportunity for our field hockey program," said St. Mary's College Director of Athletics and Recreation Scott Devine. "The Seahawks Athletic Department is fully committed to providing a high-quality student-athlete experience for all Atlantic East field hockey student-athletes."
The Seahawks will join the Atlantic East Conference in its third year of existence in 2020. The league has two familiar faces for St. Mary's College, as Wesley and Marymount University both were regular opponents in the CAC as full members. Wesley defeated Gwynedd Mercy last season in the Atlantic East title game for field hockey, while the Griffins earned a Pool B bid into the NCAA tournament for the seventh time in program history.
"We are excited to welcome St. Mary's College to the Atlantic East Conference as the first-ever affiliate member," said Atlantic East Conference Commissioner Jessica Huntley. "The partnership will help to strengthen field hockey in our conference and enhance the student-athlete experience."
The Seahawk field hockey program has spent its entire history, dating back to 1994, in the Capital Athletic Conference, advancing to the title game in 2007 and 2008. In those 25 seasons, they've had 48 all-conference honorees, two conference Rookies of the Year, one conference Player of the Year, 15 NFHCA All-Region players, and two NFHCA All-American nods. St. Mary's College, the National Public Honors College, is a founding member of the Capital Athletic Conference and continues to be a full member in good standing.
Guided by fourth-year Head Coach Jessica Lanham, the Seahawks most recently had 16 student-athletes on their field hockey team earn a spot on the Conference All-Academic team, needing a 3.20 grade-point average for the full academic year.
"We are extremely excited for this new opportunity to compete in the Atlantic East Conference comprised of excellent institutions with great academic and athletic reputations," said Coach Lanham.
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