Archivist Peter Lupfer digs deep in past coverage from The Statesman to describe Stony Brook University’s athletic history, starting with the school’s earliest sports programs on its original Oyster Bay campus. Lupfer was a sports editor at The Statesman in 2018.
Wednesday, Nov. 25, was a milestone in the history of Stony Brook sports. Both the Women’s and Men’s Basketball teams were scheduled to open their seasons, putting an end to the Athletics program’s eight-month hiatus.
The mid-season cancelation of sports due to COVID-19 last semester was an abrupt and unsatisfying ending for the Seawolves’ National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) teams. The conference-leading Women’s Basketball team was one win away from a first NCAA National Tournament berth, while the perennially impressive Women’s Lacrosse team touted a top-five national ranking in all of the major polls.
Sports clubs were not immune to the cancelations either, with many having to shut down at crucial moments in their respective seasons. Ice Hockey was preparing for its eighth-consecutive appearance at the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s National Tournament on the strength of a No. 7 national ranking, and Men’s Rugby was days away from embarking on its Bermuda trip when the university suspended all club travel.
The final athletic event of the 2019-2020 academic year was Baseball’s 4-2 victory against Merrimack on Wednesday, March 11. At that time, no one knew exactly what the future held; at the beginning of the pandemic, a postponement of fall sports would have seemed equally as unexpected as the approval of November basketball was earlier this fall.
Even though it ended in a loss, the Nov. 25 Women’s Basketball game against Fordham showed that Stony Brook Athletics might be edging closer to a light at the end of the tunnel. At the same time, however, the cancelation of Men’s Basketball’s road game against Bryant serves as a reminder that there is still a long road ahead before a return to normalcy.
This is an important moment in the timeline of sports at Stony Brook, but it is among many milestones in Stony Brook sports history. Articles one and two demonstrate some of the earliest progress in developing sports programs at the university, although it is important to note that writer Pat Crean is referring to the university’s original location in Oyster Bay in his two articles. His work shows the humble beginnings of sports at the State University College on Long Island. Read the first article here, and the second here.
The third article, Encouraging Words from the Dean of the Division of Athletics, moves forward to Aug. 15, 1994, by which time sports had become a well-established part of Stony Brook University’s student life. After nearly three decades as the Stony Brook Patriots (following early stints as the Baymen and Warriors), the school announced a rebranding as the Seawolves in February of that year as part of a gradual transition to NCAA Division I. This piece discusses the Division of Physical Education and Athletics’ efforts to join a conference, secure television coverage and begin stadium construction in the leadup to the Seawolves’ inaugural season. Read more here.
Some of the program’s most memorable moments have come in recent years. Baseball’s trip to the College World Series in 2012 is one such moment. A roster complete with future San Diego Padre and Cincinnati Red Travis Jankowski pulled off this unexpected feat with their win against Louisiana State University, as reported by David O’Connor. Read more here.
Finally, Kenneth Fermin’s piece from the 2018 Fall Sports Preview highlights Women’s Volleyball’s unanticipated 2017 America East Championship win and previews what would become a repeat performance in the upcoming campaign. Read more here.
The story of Stony Brook sports has been one of growth and development. 2020 has presented challenges to that growth, as it has for athletic programs nationwide. When all is said and done, however, it is safe to say that the school’s sports programs will continue to move forward as they have for over six decades.