Albany, NY – The Sage Colleges has selected Gillian McDonald as its first head coach of the Gators' new field hockey program. McDonald will coach her first game for Sage in the fall of 2018 when the team competes as a member of the Empire 8. McDonald arrives at Sage having spent the last 12 years as the head field hockey coach at Hamilton College.
This past fall her team went 12-5 with an impressive 7-3 record in the highly competitive New England Small Colleges Athletic Conference (NESCAC), where the team advanced to the semifinals of the league's tournament before falling to No. 4 nationally ranked Middlebury College.
Gillian McDonald said of her selection, "I want to thank Dani Drews and the search committee for giving me the opportunity to bring field hockey back to The Sage Colleges." She added, "I am looking forward to building my own program and putting my own mark on this team. I am so grateful to Hamilton College and the Athletic Department for their support and mentorship during my formative coaching years."
Director of Athletics Dani Drews made the official announcement noting, "We could not have found a better person or coach to lead our new program." Drews continued, "Gillian brings a wealth of playing and coaching experience to Sage. We are so excited about the program that Gillian will be able to build and the impact it will have on the Sage community."
Earlier this spring The Sage Colleges announced that it will be adding two new varsity teams to its athletics program. Endorsed by President Susan Scrimshaw and Sage's Board of Trustees, the Gators will compete in field hockey and men's lacrosse beginning with the 2018-2019 academic year. The new teams elevate the total number of Sage's varsity offerings to 17.
McDonald led the 2016 Hamilton team to their fourth NESCAC Championship appearance in their six years in the conference, the Continentals were the third seed for the NESCAC Championship, which was a program high. She was rewarded for her efforts as she was named the 2016 NESCAC Field Hockey Coach of the Year as chosen by her peers. The 2016 team achieved the school's highest national ranking, rising to 11th in the NFHCA poll.
McDonald, who won 77 games as the Continentals' coach, earned post-season recognition from the Liberty League in 2009 when Hamilton's staff shared the award for Coaching Staff of the Year. She also had four players honored as NFHCA All-Americans, including the program's first two-time All-American, Eva Rosencrans.
The 2016 Hamilton College field hockey team was also honored with a selection to the NFHCA National All-Academic Team, marking the 11th straight year under her direction the Continentals were commended. The program recognizes those institutions that achieved a team GPA of 3.0 or higher during the first semester of the academic year.
Prior to Hamilton, McDonald was an assistant coach at the University of Rochester in 2004 and coached at the North American Hockey Academy during the 2005-06 academic year.
McDonald lettered in both field hockey and ice hockey at Bowdoin College. She was a first team All-America goalkeeper for field hockey as a senior and collected all-region honors twice. A four-time First-Team NESCAC All-Conference selection, McDonald helped lead the Polar Bears to the conference title in 2000. McDonald was given Bowdoin's Sidney J. Watson Award after her senior year in 2004 for distinguishing herself by her athletic performance and leadership of more than one team. She is still ranked in the NCAA Division III top 30 in career shutouts, goals against average, and wins.