Looking back, looking forward

By Brigid Hamilton  |  Photo courtesy of Loyola Athletics

Three championship titles.

Host of two conference championships.

Home of the league’s male scholar athlete of the year.

Loyola's women's lacrosse team holds the Patriot League championship trophy for all to see.

Not bad for Greyhounds’ 2013-2014 athletics season, Loyola’s debut in the Patriot League—and the first time in school history that all teams competed in the same conference, adding a sense of camaraderie and collegiality to the athletics program.

As members of the Patriot League, Loyola was given more exposure on a national stage with televised games. And coaches and student-athletes alike said parents and fans were notably excited to watch Loyola compete against the schools in the league, strengthening school spirit and a sense of rivalry with our new competition.

The move to the Patriot League was not without its challenges. “This was a year of new people, new places, and new experiences. I underestimated how that much change would impact our coaches and our student-athletes,” said Jim Paquette, Loyola’s assistant vice president and director of athletics.

“I have tremendous respect for our coaches for how they dealt with this. And the Patriot League was incredibly welcoming and accommodating. I feel like these other ADs in the conference have become some of my closest friends in a short period of time, which only served to validate and reaffirm Loyola’s decision to join this conference,” Paquette said.

Charley Toomey, ’90, head coach of the men’s lacrosse team, said the move to the Patriot League raised the bar for Loyola academically, and that coaches have seen a shift in recruitment classes as a result.

“With that being said, we were hoping we would raise the bar in terms of lacrosse for the Patriot League, especially after having won a national championship.”

Looking ahead, Toomey said there are already certain rivalries taking shape: “I can’t point a finger at one team, but I can tell you Lehigh is going to push us to be the best we can be going forward, and hopefully we are going to push them.”

Now that fans and student-athletes can more easily travel to games, Toomey hopes the momentum and excitement will only build.

“I was happy to hear Loyola was joining this conference the summer before my first year, because the Patriot League has prestige. The chance to be a member of a team in a new league is exciting, it serves as a fresh start for everyone, not just the new players,” said Matt Oshrine,’17, a member of the men’s golf team.

The Greyhounds were named Patriot League Champions after winning the tournament hosted by the United States Military Academy in May, and Coach Chris Baloga was named the league’s Coach of the Year, his first time receiving this honor.

“As a team, we went into the championship expecting to win, because Loyola’s golf team has a strong record of winning titles; we won six straight MAAC championships (2008-2013),” Oshrine admitted.

“What I did not expect was for the golf alumni to send us letters before the tournament, reminding us that just because we were no longer competing for a MAAC title, to not let the tradition die. And we took that seriously.”

As Loyola anticipates another exciting year in a still-new league, Paquette affirms change a good: “There is no looking back. Change is scary for people, but the move to the Patriot League is one change that once we got into, we realized what a positive thing it was for the athletics department—and for the entire institution.”

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