After one of the most memorable and enthusiastic basketball seasons in Trailblazer history - which included an intense home game against rival Westfield State University and a win against Salem State University by 18 points in front of a packed MCLA house - men's basketball head coach Jamie Morrison was honored as the 2012-13 MASCAC Coach of the Year.
With this recognition, Morrison (pictured above) joins three other coaches at the College, all of whom have been recognized by MASCAC for their hard work, dedication and success in coaching our Trailblazers with this Coach of the Year Award.
While he feels honored to be so respected by his peers, Morrison gives most of the credit to his players.
"It's a fine line between winning and losing most nights," he explained. "Last year we lost a ton of close games in MASCAC play, and this year we were able to win most of those. So really I am just the beneficiary of the guys making plays in critical spots this season."
Baseball Coach Jeff Puleri agreed. He was named Coach of the Year in 2006 and also in 2009 - after his team was selected to finish in the bottom half of the conference but ended up in the top half.
"Any Coach of the Year award is all about your players and truly has nothing to do with coaching," said Puleri.
Soccer Coach Adam Hildabrand was named Coach of the Year in 2008.
"I think we were selected because we became a team that loved the big occasion, and we became very hard to beat," Hildabrand said. "I personally consider it a team award."
Hildabrand takes the job of supporting his players very seriously. "The players that go through this program know that I care for them on the field, and off the field."
Deb Raber, who's the women's head soccer coach, was named Coach of the Year in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
"During the years when I was named Coach of the Year, I can directly attribute those awards to the women in the program," she said. "The coach is just part of the equation for success. Having a hard-working group of women with the desire to compete day in and day out makes all the difference in the world."
Heads began to turn in 2007 after the women finished above .500, thanks to a "fantastic" group of first-year players who joined some solid returning players. Together, they immediately bumped up the respect for MCLA's program, Raber said.
By 2009, the women's soccer team had ended up as the conference tournament runner-ups, and made it to the ECAC semi-finals. In 2010, they were the conference champs, and returned to the ECAC semi-finals.
According to Raber, while it's an honor to be recognized by her peers and those whom the team competes against, "I have always been proud of how hard our women play and how respectful they are on the field to both the opposition and officials."
As proud as he is of being named MASCAC Coach of the year, Morrison points to the success of the women's basketball coach, Holly McGovern.
"You know, I would probably trade my award for what Coach McGovern has. That is a MASCAC championship and a trip to the NCAA tournament."
"How important is winning? It is very important," he said. "There's no reason we can't win, and we deserve to win. Look at the enthusiasm the men's basketball team generated. Some people think ambition is a negative thing. I don't subscribe to that. I want us to be the best in everything we do."