“Malone has moved into a very prestigious conference and is now competing against schools that are somewhat larger in both total student enrollment and overall budgets and resources,” Athletic Director Charlie Grimes said. “Even with this new challenge, we predict that several of our teams will have great opportunities to make the GLIAC postseason.
“Making the NCAA National Championships will be much more difficult, although our cross-country, track and field, swimming and diving and men’s golf programs will most likely make the NCAA’s.”
The first year in the GLIAC was either successful or rough for each area of Malone’s athletics. Each team came into their first season as underdogs that couldn’t compete or be successful.
Some teams, like women’s basketball, exceeded critics’ expectations and they shocked the GLIAC by having a successful season in the conference while others are still building to compete.
In fact, the GLIAC is considered the toughest Division II conference in the country.
“The GLIAC isn’t necessarily “tougher” than we expected—we knew very well ahead of time that this was the premier conference in NCAA Division II,” Grimes said. “The factors that have surprised us the most, however, are the “depth” that many schools have on their rosters, and how small the “margin of error” is when you are competing against GLIAC schools.”
“The GLIAC is almost both as far as being tough and not as tough,” football head coach Eric Hehman said. “I think it’s as tough as everyone says it is. After a season you kind of get your bearing and understand where you have to go and we realized we can compete.”
For the football program the only way to go is up and that’s what they are doing after some insight from other GLIAC coaches.
“Coach Winters who was the Head Coach at Wayne State said his first two games of his first year they lost by 120 points, we didn’t do that,” Hehman said. “We have to acclimate our guys and ourselves to the speed and the talent and we have done that for a year and will do it for another year to get to where we want to be.”
[pullquote]We joke sometimes that in the NAIA there used to be ‘easy’ games (opponents that weren’t as good) but now we feel like Malone is the easy game! That will change with the next few seasons of competing at this new level,” Grimes said.[/pullquote]
The GLIAC is capable of exposing all of your weakness every week if you allow them.
“The GLIAC is a very competitive league,” sophomore defensive end Isaiah Smith said.
“Our only downfall of the past season was the commitment level. We are more than capable to compete in the GLIAC and we will this next year coming up,” Smith said.
“The GLIAC is a extremely competitive league,” freshman soccer player Amanda Najjar said. “Most feel we can compete with the teams and I feel we can and will improve our record from last year.”
Many programs believe that this will be an exciting season for them as they brought in a lot of talented recruits.
“We joke sometimes that in the NAIA there used to be ‘easy’ games (opponents that weren’t as good) but now we feel like Malone is the easy game! That will change with the next few seasons of competing at this new level,” Grimes said.