It’s been a big year for student athletes, sports fans and members of Drexel’s Athletics Department. Teams traveled overseas and around the country, students competed at their absolute best and fans had opportunities to watch their favorite Drexel teams compete in big games at even bigger venues this year. Drexel Athletics also received a $1 million gift from a beloved former director of women’s athletics and coaches were named winners and inductees into halls of fame.
“By offering athletic and recreational opportunities for student athletes, students, faculty and staff, Drexel Athletics embraces and openly celebrates a performance culture of doing,” wrote Director of Athletics Eric Zillmer in a newsletter last week. “This sense of personal and collective pride has helped cultivate and shape our department’s identity: I am a Dragon.”
Now that 2015 is over, Zillmer has chosen to chronologically review the biggest moments from this past year and asks you to do the same.
1. Philadelphia, PA – Women’s Basketball in Postseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT)
The Dragons finished second in the 2015 CAA regular-season standings behind James Madison University, and for the fifth time qualified for the WNIT under head coach Denise Dillon. Previously, the Dragons won the WNIT title in 2013, the first WNIT title for a Colonial Athletic Association team.
2. Rotterdam, Holland – Field Hockey Travels to Europe
Before their season even started, Drexel field hockey traveled to Europe to play against top Dutch clubs in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Field hockey is one of the most popular sports in Holland, and the Dragons were in good company against the local club and pro teams.
“International training trips also provide for great team chemistry and rich recruiting opportunities,” said Zillmer. “They are also a source of alumni support, since foreign tours are always financed by donations.”
Drexel Field Hockey traveled to Europe to prepare early for their season by playing against top Dutch clubs in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
3. Philadelphia, PA – Semanik Makes $1 Million Gift to Drexel Athletics
Mary Semanik, who served as Drexel’s director of women's athletics from 1965 to 1991, made a $1 million commitment to endow the first named coaching position of a women's team — women’s lacrosse — as well as provide unrestricted support to Drexel Athletics. She was honored for at an April dedication ceremony in which the lobby of the Daskalakis Athletic Center (DAC) was officially dedicated to the Semaniks.
Semanik holds a strong record for supporting Drexel Athletics and, most of all, female athletics at Drexel. She guided the women's athletic program through the changes brought about by Title IX legislation, which was enacted in 1972, and the transition from the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women to the NCAA Division I for women. With her husband, John '56, who served as director of athletics from 1962 to 1991, she brought Division I sports to Drexel and played a key role in the development of the University's Physical Education Athletic Center (now the DAC).
4. Richmond, VA – David Sanchez Named CAA Diver of the Year
The swimming and diving junior was named the Colonial Athletic Association Diver of the Year in a vote by the conference's coaches, announced on April 7. Sanchez was also chosen as Men’s Diver of the Year as well as the Most Outstanding Diver of the Meet at the CAA Championships for the second time in his career.
Drexel swimming and diving junior standout David Sanchez was named the Colonial Athletic Association Diver of the Year.
5. Philadelphia, PA – Dad Vail 3-Peat
Drexel Crew won its third consecutive overall title and regained the men's points title at the 77th annual Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta on May 9 on the Schuylkill River. Medaling in six of eight events, Drexel became the first back-to-back-to-back winner since Purdue won five years in a row from 2000-2004.
6. Philadelphia, PA – Women's Sports Reception hosted by Hazem Maragah, PhD, featuring Chris McKendry
Drexel Athletics celebrated women in the sports industry at an event on May 14. Alumnus and ESPN anchor Chris McKendry, who played tennis at Drexel from 1986–88, spoke to the crowd about the importance of staying involved in the Drexel community and networking with peers.
7. Philadelphia, PA – Paul Savell Named Matt Ledwidth Award Winner by Dad Vail Committee
Drexel’s head rowing coach Paul Savell became the first crew coach in school history to win the Matt Ledwidth Award for collegiate coach of the year, the Dad Vail Organizing Committee announced on May 8.
“The Matt Ledwidth Award is presented annually to a collegiate rowing coach who has had outstanding success combined with contributions and dedication to the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta,” said Zillmer. “Drexel has won three straight Dad Vail overall titles under Savell's watch, so to have him recognized as the Dad Vail Coach of the Year is a great honor for Drexel University.”
Paul Savell was named Matt Ledwidth Award Winner by Dad Vail Committee.
8. West Windsor, NJ – Women's Crew Earns Second Overall Finish at CAAs
Drexel Crew's women had its best finish in the seven-year history of the event, up from finishing third last year.
9. Chester, PA – Drexel’s Rugby Club Wins City Cup at PPL
On the last day of May, Drexel’s Club Rugby team won the City 4 Division in the Collegiate Rugby Championships held at PPL Park in Chester, PA.
“The team played their hearts out and went undefeated on the weekend, beating LaSalle, Penn and Villanova,” wrote Zillmer.
10. Philadelphia, PA – Drexel Hosts NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships at Lincoln Financial Field
For the second time in three years, Drexel Athletics hosted the NCAA Division I, II and III Men's Lacrosse Championships at Lincoln Financial Field.
Drexel, which will also host of the 2016 event, put on the event in 2013.
Drexel Golf's Christopher Crawford has been named the school's first-ever Colonial Athletic Association Golfer of the Year
11. Richmond, VA – Christopher Crawford Named Drexel's First-Ever CAA Golfer of the Year
Junior Christopher Crawford was named the school's first-ever CAA Golfer of the Year on May 14.
Crawford finished in the top 10 in every tournament he played in during the 2014-15 season, while holding a league-best average score.
12. Philadelphia, PA – Drexel Voted #1 Gym in Philadelphia
Philly.com voted the Drexel Recreation Center the best gym in Philadelphia for 2015.
“With a world-class staff as well as numerous programs and classes aimed to enhance health and well being, the Recreation Center provides all the tools needed to achieve a healthy and active lifestyle,” wrote Zillmer.
13. Amsterdam, Holland – Women's Basketball Travels to Europe and Goes 4-0
“Drexel women's basketball went on a 10-day foreign tour to Holland, Belgium and France to play four friendlies against professional teams, help grow the game of women's basketball in Europe, and learn about the local and national culture,” recounted Zillmer.
Even better? The team went undefeated.
Off the court, the Dragons met with alumni and entering freshmen abroad, and also engaged in activities such as climbing the Eiffel Tower and strolling the canals of Amsterdam.
14. Indianapolis, IN – Laura White Serves as Chair of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Tennis Committee
Drexel's Senior Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Laura White was appointed chair of the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Tennis Committee on Sept. 1.
“White will help evaluate and select teams into the championship, which includes determining the pairings and sites for all competition during the championship, as well as supervising games at the final site,” Zillmer explained.
Now in her 32nd year at Drexel, White became the first Drexel athletic administrator in program history to act as the chair of any NCAA sport.
14. Hunt Valley, MD – Voelker Inducted into National Lacrosse Hall of Fame
Drexel Men's Lacrosse Head Coach Brian Voelker was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame on Oct. 24.
As Drexel's coach, Voelker led the Dragons to their first-ever Colonial Athletic Association championship in 2014, when the team advanced to its first NCAA Tournament and then defeated Penn to advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals. During the six seasons Voelker has coached at Drexel, the team has advanced to the CAA playoffs five times.
Drexel Men's Lacrosse Head Coach Brian Voelker, center, took his place among the greats in the sport as he was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
15. Philadelphia, PA – Drexel Hosts Fifth Delaware Investment U.S. Men’s and Women’s Squash Open
“This year’s U.S. Open saw growth in attendance and stature, making it the best Open yet,” said Zillmer.
Though the 2015 Delaware Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships has concluded, relive the matches, drama and glory by watching U.S. Open replays on SquashTV.
16. New York City, NY – Wrestling Defeats No. 20 Northwestern at the Garden
On Nov. 29, the Drexel wrestling team earned its first win over a nationally ranked team as it defeated Northwestern University.
Junior Matthew Cimato was awarded Outstanding Wrestler honors.
The Drexel Men’s Club Ice Hockey team took to the ice of the Wells Fargo Center.
17. Philadelphia, PA – Men’s Ice Hockey Club Plays at the Wells Fargo Center
Playing at the Wells Fargo Center before the Flyers? Pretty big deal. That’s exactly what the Drexel men’s club ice hockey team did on Nov. 23 when they faced off against their rival, the University of Delaware, at Philly’s biggest hockey rink.
“It was the first time the ice hockey club team played at Wells Fargo Center, although they participated in the Winter Classic a few years ago playing Villanova at Citizens Bank Park,” wrote Zillmer.
18. Philadelphia, PA – Women’s Squash Finishes 2015 Ranked 13th in Nation
The women’s squash team finished 2015 sitting at its highest ranking ever, ranking #13 in the country. Add in the fact that the team bounced back to beat two teams they lost to last year, and it’s clear that the women’s squash team enjoyed its best season in the five-year history of the program.
Men’s Squash Beat # 8 Princeton.
19. Philadelphia, PA – Men's Basketball Get’s Two W’s Against Philadelphia Big 5 Schools
Drexel men's basketball visited La Salle University for the first time since 2000 and came away with the 66-53 victory at Gola Arena — the Dragons' first victory over the Explorers since 1997, according to Zillmer.
The team also beat Penn in a 53-52 overtime win at the DAC, making this the sixth time in a row that Drexel has defeated its neighbor.
20. Philadelphia, PA – Men’s Squash Beat # 8 Princeton
In a wild finish at the Kline & Specter Squash Center, the No. 9 Drexel men's squash team pulled out a slim 5-4 victory over the No. 8 Princeton Tigers. No. 8 Princeton, a program with 11 team national championships and 20 individual national championships, also served as the highest-ranked win for a Drexel opponent in the Dragon's fifth year of varsity competition.