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  • Writer's pictureKAIT BEDELL & PAT CARBONE

Crowded conference? Two teams to join GNAC

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

Effective next year, Mitchell College and New England College will be joining the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC).

The addition of the two schools will make the GNAC one of the largest Division III conferences in New England, totaling 16 teams, according to Athletic Director Kristy Walter.

Sophomore Madalyn Scully rises to spike the ball over two blockers in a women’s volleyball win against New England College on Oct. 18. The Lasers defeated the Pilgrims in three sets. Photo by Joe Giacco

“I’m not super excited about it,” Walter said. “I think it makes us [the GNAC] really too big.”

Walter said she liked keeping the conference size to 14 teams and that Lasell will have to “adjust” to the change.

Since each team needs to be in the top eight of the standings to qualify for conference playoffs, Walter said it will be more difficult for teams to fight against 16 teams as opposed to 14 teams to compete in the postseason.

In addition to making it harder for teams to earn a playoff seed, Walter also said it will make it harder for athletes to be recognized throughout the conference.

“It’s less opportunities for student-athletes to be named All-GNAC, named All-Conference,” Walter said. “You’re competing against more teams to get access to the championships, access to the NCAA, access to All-Conference. I think it’s just hard…”

Along with making it more difficult for teams to get on the GNAC’s radar, Walter said having a larger conference will make scheduling difficult for out-of-conference games.

Sydney Brady (‘22) carries the ball past two defenders at Grellier Field during a match versus Mitchell College on March 31 of last year. The Lasers defeated the Mariners 16-2. Photo by Janard Jones

“...Do we do division and then you don’t play everybody? Or do you play everybody once and then you don’t have any non-conference games?,” Walter said. “There’s just a lot of things involved in it.”

Despite not being excited about the two teams entering, Walter said it will be good to have more connections in Connecticut and New Hampshire for recruiting purposes.

“I think it’s nice that we’re spread out, that we can get visibility in different areas,” Walter said.

As new competitors enter the conference, some athletes are looking forward to more competition.“I think they’re both pretty competitive athletic programs. I think it’ll be good for Lasell and the rest of the GNAC to have a bit more competition,” said junior baseball player Camdyn Ames.

In addition to the two new teams, Walter said she would not be surprised to see more changes within the conference.

“I think there might be some movement,” Walter said. “I don’t know if it would be us. I think there is a lot of movement going on in Division III. Other institutions might have other opportunities, so that number might change.”

The President of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, Michael Palumbo, also believes that there will be movement. “ I think that the these teams coming in definitely means that someone going to leave,” said Palumbo.

Although Walter said there are no current plans on Lasell’s radar to leave the GNAC, she also said the university will keep its eyes open if a better opportunity arises.

“There’s a lot of things that are kind of happening right now, so it doesn’t make sense for us to make a jump at this point,” Walter said. “But just kind of keep our eyes open if there might be something that would feel better for us.”

Though there have been rumors that GNAC powerhouse, Johnson & Wales University, will be leaving the conference, Walter has quickly put these rumors to rest.

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