Published 05/15/13

150 years of athletics

Excerpted from the Summer 2013 edition of Bryant magazine

Today's NCAA Division 1 Bryant Bulldogs are a culmination of the hard work of dedicated student-athletes throughout Bryant history, instilling spirit and pride in the Bryant community.

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Since its early history, the Bryant experience has featured the purposeful integration of academics and dynamic student life programs. Men’s varsity sports teams, such as basketball and baseball, sprung up at Bryant in the 1930s but were suspended during World War II and the Korean War. The teams, mainly a fraternity activity, were reinstated in the mid-fifties.

The first women’s basketball team was formed in 1924; the February edition of the Bryant Booster reported on the landmark event, noting “the whole school is behind them in their laudable intentions.” Women didn’t compete at a varsity level, however, until 1976. Lorraine Hudak, who came to Bryant in 1977 as the women’s athletic coordinator and head coach for volleyball, tennis, and softball, is widely credited with blazing the trail for women’s athletics on campus.

Men’s basketball made national headlines this year as “a Cinderella team that’s the most improved in the country,” according to The Providence Journal, finishing second in the Northeast Conference standings and qualifying for postseason play in the program’s first campaign with full Division I eligibility. Women’s basketball also made it to its first NEC post-season berth in its first season of full eligibility, and in May men’s lacrosse earned an NCAA Tournament berth against the top-seed.

Bryant is fortunate to have been home to many inspiring coaches such as Arthur “Archie”
Boulet, who served as Bryant’s golf coach for nearly five decades; men’s lacrosse Head Coach Mike Pressler, who also was head coach of the 2010 gold-winning U.S. Men’s National Lacrosse Team; and track and field Coach Stephanie Reilly, who represented her native country, Ireland, racing in the steeplechase at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

The University now has 22 Division I teams. Our athletic facilities include the upgraded and refurbished baseball and softball complex, now known as Conaty Park, in honor of the generosity of Bryant University trustee and alumnus Bill Conaty ’67, and extensive renovations to Bulldog Stadium, made possible by former trustee and alumnus David M. Beirne ’85.