Wagner College Senior Associate Athletic Director Brendan Fahey announced in January the addition of a new program to the Athletics Department.
Wagner is introducing a field hockey team at the start of Fall 2018.
"We are only going to be a club team this upcoming fall, but we will be a full Division I program by fall of 2019," said Fahey.
The Athletic Department and Fahey took multiple steps before making the official announcement to add a field hockey team. The first step was to do a lot of research on developed field hockey programs at other colleges.
"When you start a program, you have to make sure you know the challenges," said Fahey, "so we talked to a lot of administrators that already have the sport so we would know what to expect."
Next, Fahey and Athletic Department staff spent months putting together plans and running through budgets.
"If we want to add a sport, we wanted to make sure we would have all of the resources to be successful," said Fahey.
Wagner has hired Jill DiSanti as the head coach; she will, of course, play a key role in the development of this new program. DiSanti was the assistant coach for the Monmouth University field hockey team for the past 10 years. Before coaching at Monmouth, DiSanti was the assistant coach at her alma mater, Quinnipiac University, for 2 years. She will join the Wagner community on June 1.
DiSanti currently runs a field hockey club in Long Branch, New Jersey. The club contains multiple teams with players ranging from the 6th grade to seniors in high school. She will continue to run the club while she coaches for Wagner.
As the head coach, DiSanti will select her own assistant coach. There will be only one grad assistant coach for 2018, but a second grad assistant position will open for the start of their fall 2019 season as a new Division I program.
"I like this, because you get younger people who come from different schools and bring their ideas and their energy," said Fahey. "I think they are people who will be great coaches some day, and it is awesome that we can give them the experience now."
Due to NCAA rules, DiSanti can only begin recruiting after she officially joins Wagner on June 1. In the meantime, Fahey has done most of the recruiting, meeting with prospective players to answer any questions they have. Fahey's main focus point during these meetings is to consider the character of each recruit and try to bring in good, well-rounded people.
Nine players have already committed, and five will be attending Wagner this fall. Of the nine commits, there are three transfers from Sienna (2 freshmen, 1 sophomore), four 2018 commits (high school seniors) and four 2019 commits (high school juniors).
In preparation for the field hockey team's arrival this fall, Wagner is going to turf the practice field behind the stadium this summer. We are also going to add a score board and some portable bleacher seating. This will become field hockey's game and practice field. In addition, it will add another practice field for sports such as lacrosse and soccer, freeing up field time and allowing more flexibility with practice scheduling.
"We are really excited for it, and we have a great institution to recruit people to. I think NYC is a great location," said Fahey. "I think it will be a good sport, and anytime you can grow your umbrella and give more athletes more opportunities is a great thing."