It's been a fast start to the year but a truly great one. The fall season kicked off with the 30th annual Husky Golf Classic on Monday, August 13that beautiful Falmouth Country Club. It was another tremendous event with 168 golfers taking part and countless sponsors and donors making significant contributions. In all, we had a great day on the course and in the clubhouse and were able to raise over $15,000 to help support the USM golf team as well as our William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete awards program and Honors Night for our departing senior athletes.
Fall student-athletes moved on to campus later that same week for physical exams and NCAA compliance meetings and practices began on the Saturday the 18th. We start the 2018 fall season with a new head coach of the women's soccer team and a new member of our athletic healthcare staff. Seth Benjamin, a former Husky himself, takes the reigns of the women's team. Benjamin received his USM degree in 2000 and has gained tremendous experience at a number of different levels of soccer. We're pleased to welcome Seth back to his alma mater and look forward to success and growth in the women's program. Tony Taiani joins the staff as a certified athletic trainer, replacing Kelleigh O'Neil, who left to pursue an opportunity with the Chinese Olympic teams in Beijing. Tony is no stranger to USM, working directly with the Huskies last year as an employee of Saco Bay Physical Therapy.
The early highlight of the fall season took place on Friday, August 31stas we celebrated the installation of state-of-the-art Musco LED lighting on all three of our fields; Hannaford Field, Flaherty Field and the USM Softball Stadium. President Glenn Cummings, Vice President Nancy Griffin and senior soccer goalie Taylor Canastra addressed the crowd and gave thanks to our donors to the project and to University administration for helping make it happen. Former Chief Business Officer Buster Neel was also acknowledged for his key role in making the 1.5 million dollar project a reality for USM. It's been a long time coming but our student-athletes now have the same opportunity that others enjoy on other campuses. The addition of lights will help us with class scheduling, intramurals and recreation and community use in addition to the excitement brought to our intercollegiate teams.
On Friday, September 7th, the athletic department hosted a Welcome Back Barbecue in front of the Costello Sports Complex. As always, we are excited to have our student-athletes back and we look forward to working with them. This was an opportunity to just say hello, check in on what people had been doing over the summer and get ready to be back at it together. We will continue to focus our efforts on our five key areas: academics, athletics, personal development, career development and service to the community and will reinforce those whenever possible.
September will conclude with the 33rdannual Husky Hall of Fame banquet and induction ceremony on Saturday, September 29thin Gorham. Four men and four women will be inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame this year. Those being honored are: Thomas "Tip" Fairchild – baseball (class of 2008), Sasha Ilkovich Gerardi – field hockey (class of 2003), Jess Knight Tremblay – lacrosse & hockey (class of 2011), John McCartney – baseball (class of 1989), Shannon Shuttle – volleyball (class of 2010), James Spaulding – track (class of 2010, Curtis Wheeler – cross country & track (class of 2008 and Kelly Wilson Allen – soccer (class of 1999.
In addition to our hall of fame inductees, Kenny Knapton will receive the prestigious Richard A. Costello Award and Bob Blackwood will be presented with the Clifford O.T. Wieden Award. It should be another great night.
Our overarching goal as a department is and always has been to provide the best possible student-athlete experience possible and prepare our team members for a lifetime of success. We remain committed to building and maintaining a welcoming environment that is inclusive, where all students feel welcome and supported in their efforts to succeed. Our students are part of the process and always in the center as we work to live the University's promise of "student focused every day".
As evidence of the hard work of our student-athletes, last year, in 2017-2018, the entire body of USM student-athletes reached a milestone goal of eclipsing the 3.0 GPA mark. The collective 450+ student-athletes checked in at 3.08 and that stat continues to increase every year. Our student-athletes succeed on the field, in the community and truly get it done in the classroom. We are very proud of these young men and women and how they represent the University, the athletic department and their respective teams. We're also very proud that they graduate and persist at a level significantly higher than the overall student body. Like all groups, we still have work to do and improvements to make but we start the year with optimism and great pride in the success and rich history of USM Athletics. Go Huskies!