Jackie Ireland ‘20
Going Division 1 has been a whispered topic for years now. A strange feeling of nervousness and tension always seemed to fill the room the second the subject was even mentioned. I guess there was always this unknown aspect of the whole matter that scared and excited us at the same time. I’ve always heard the expression, “being a D1athlete is a full-time job.” I guess that’s why we chose to play DII, right? Never did I think it would be during my time at Merrimack that I would have the opportunity to call myself a D1 athlete.
The second I heard the news an instant rush of excitement yet confusion filled my thoughts. New gear, better food, and five star hotels were the first of many possible benefits I thought of. But then again, what does that really mean for us athletes? There was a lot of talk about how exceptional and outstanding it is for us to be joining the Division I Northeast Conference. Some well known members of the NEC include Bryant University, Central Connecticut State, Sacred Heart and more. As great as it is to be able to call yourself a D1 player, there seems to be an equal amount, if not more talk about, the downfalls of this decision circulating within the athletic community here at Merrimack.
While taking a step back and viewing the growth of Merrimack as a whole, it really is exceptional. New residence halls, dining options, an academic building and Merrimack Stadium provided our institution with the necessary resources to be considered for D1 approval. Nevertheless, there are a variety of questions and concerns many of us are uncertain about in the upcoming years. The recently constructed stadium has resulted in the destruction of our baseball field as well as a lack of campus tennis courts and swimming pool. In their first season without a home field, the baseball team went on to win the NE-10 Championship and qualify for NCAA’s. With the lack of proper facilities that seem necessary for such a big leap I ask myself, are we even ready to take on this commitment?
The answer is yes. Despite the downsides of this rapid change there is large sense of hope for many of the teams here on campus. A change as big as this could result in something great we don’t even know about yet. The growth and expansion our once little home has been going through opens up a variety of new doors for potential student athletes in the years to come. With more scholarship and the hope for greater successes, going D1 seems like a beneficial decision. But what does it really mean to me? I’m happy for Merrimack. I’m proud of the growth and commitment that both President Hopey and Jeremy Gibson have encouraged. I’m proud to call this place my home. More than anything, I am proud to be a Warrior.