Students and athletes came together to celebrate homecoming, the first football game in the new Outdoor Athletic Complex.
“This is the best athletic facility of all of the colleges that we play here, and we are really proud of that,” said President Andrew Matonak in his speech that kicked off the game.
Before the game, free food, homecoming t-shirts and plastic Viking helmets were handed out to all who came to support the team during the tailgate party. Students could get their face painted or get balloon animals at the booths that were set up under the pavilion.
Hudson Valley is an advertiser on the WGNA radio station, according to the brand manager and host of the afternoon drive, Matty Jeff. “They asked us to come out, give away some prizes today and obviously have some fun with the fans; we are obviously promoting the event today too,” said Jeff.
Andrew Blann, a business management major, said, “I was surprised to show up to get free stuff and free food.”
The director of communications and marketing, Dennis Kennedy, said, “The college put together a full week of homecoming activities to bring alumni closer to the campus and for our students to have an opportunity to come together and socialize.” According to Kennedy, the planning for the even began several months ago.
During the game, Matonak discussed his love for the athletic complex built this year. “I’m really proud of the teamwork it took to be able to make this happen,” he said.
“We have always had great student athletes and not just in their athletics, but good students, good representatives of the college and the community,” President Matonak said. “We’ve had a number of people from colleges that we visit call back and say how great our students were, how well behaved and how well they represented the college. That is the thing that I am most proud of.”
President Matonak recalled his days as a student athlete himself. “I had a baseball coach in my freshmen year who told me that if I did not get my grades up, I was not even going to practice with the team,” said President Matonak. “The message was delivered to me very early: I’m here for my academics, athletics is second. I am proud of our faculty for holding all of our students to a high standard because that is what Hudson Valley is all about.”
President Matonak was not the only one who expressed pride in the team. Before the game even began, Jim Clark, a trainer for the football team, said, “I think they are going to win today. I think they are absolutely going to do amazingly.”
The other team, Valley Forge, was wearing pink shorts in support of October being breast cancer awareness month, and a few of our players were wearing pink ankle bands.
“Even though we aren’t representing with the all pink uniform, we still support the search for breast cancer cure. We are doing it from the heart, we don’t have time to show it and double uniforms like every other team,” said Clark.
Hudson Valley’s running back, Jaylen McIntyre, said that winning the game “felt better than ever.”
The football coach, Mike Meuhling, said he was happy with the win, however he would have liked a more resounding victory.
“I think we left a lot on the field, I think we could have had a bigger statement of a game,” said Meuhling.
“You know I was disappointed in that, but I was happy to come away with a win. Defense stepped up and made some plays today, which helps when you have as many turnovers as we did. Offensively, we made plays when we needed to; we got first downs when we needed to. Obviously there was the big blocked kick, so everybody kind of contributed to the win.”
Meuhling went on to describe goals for their next game in two weeks against Monroe. “The big thing is that we improve, even if it is just by a little bit. We played a lot of base defense and had some success with it, so I think we are getting good at the fundamentals and doing the little things right. We just have to continue to do that for the next two weeks.”