ALBANY, NY − Bryant and Stratton Albany is a two year college that offers a select number of degrees, and now, is building an athletic program to help further the careers of student-athletes.
“There was a discussion, about two or three years ago as enrollment was growing, and as the college age on campus was also growing, to how can we boost that and continue to head in that direction,” said Athletics Director and Men’s Head Basketball Coach Pat Filien. “Athletics was the discussion and that is where the conversation went.”
And so the conversation went. Las year, the Albany campus at Bryant and Stratton added Men’s Basketball and Baseball to begin the move. Now, in year two, the school adds Women’s Basketball, Men’s Soccer, and Women’s Soccer.
“With the growth and unexpected surprise success we had, the decision was made to add three additional sports for this academic year,” said Filien. “We are thrilled to death with the addition of the athletes and the growth that we have gone through.”
Both the men’s and women’s soccer teams have already begun their inaugural seasons. The men are currently 3-1 while the women continue to hunt for their first program win.
“I thought it was awesome because a lot of the local schools around here, whether it is Hudson Valley or UAlbany, it’s kind of unobtainable for some people, whether it is a big school with a lot of players and it is hard to get on a team, or some other reason,” said Owen Connally, an Albany Academy alum and now member of the Bryant and Stratton Albany Men’s Soccer team.
“They wanted me and I thought it was awesome and it felt great to be part of something so historic.”
“What they have been doing has been fabulous so far,” added Filien.
The three new programs have a lot of success to live up to. Filien’s men’s basketball team is coming off of an 18-10 season where they went to the quarterfinals of the USCAA Basketball National Championship.
The baseball team found success as well as they went 31-25 last season and competed in the USCAA Small School World Series, losing to Penn State Du Bois.
The new teams have a lot to live up to in year one.
“I am not going to place national tournament or bust expectations on our new coaches,” said Filien. “Last year, we didn’t know what we had, but when you have young people who work and embrace the work ethic and are teachable, the wins, hopefully, will come.”
Bryant and Statton basketball last season found success with nine freshman on the roster, including local players like Tyreik Drye from Troy High and Herman Suazo from Green Tech. Basketball will add Jamil Hill Jr. to their roster this year. Hill is a Green Tech alum who was a NYS Tournament MVP en route to a state championship, and Section 2 First-Team All-Star.
Bryant and Stratton will compete in the USCAA at the Div. 1 level which Filien explained a little bit more about.
“The USCAA is the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. It is unfamiliar to a lot of people in the northeast. It is similar in scope to the NAIA,” said Filien. “In the USCAA there is division one, and division two. In division one we are able to offer athletic scholarship money, while division two is similar to the NCAA division three where it is all need base aid.”
“Where we are right now with our five sports, we are excited about what the future holds. Currently with two women’s sports and three men’s sports we are looking to add a third women’s sport. There is a lot of communication on the table about what direction we are going to go with.”
With new teams, comes new head coaches. Jaclyn Welch joins Bryant Stratton as the head Women’s Basketball coach after working as an assistant at Hudson Valley Community College. Welch is a Colonie Central High grad.
For Men’s Soccer, Bill Bogue comes in after spending over 25 years as a coach at local high schools such as Schenectady, Guilderland, and Shaker. Bogue also too Adirondack Community College soccer to its first ever postseason appearance.
Finally, the Women’s Soccer team is headed by Nick Southworth. Southworth, most recently the assistant men’s head coach at Hudson Valley Community College, is also formerly the Colonie Central girl’s soccer Head Coach and boy’s assistant. Southworth is a Maple Hill grad where he was a Patroon Conference MVP, the Troy Record Player of the Year, and the Class C Section 2 Player of the Year.
Bryant and Stratton is a good option moving forward for local athletes who want to take their game to the next level while getting a college education.
“We are going to find student athletes who have an interest in playing beyond high school that are going to pursue their academic choice with what we have to offer,” said Filien. “There is no distinct formula for recruiting. You do what you can do through relationships, based on seeing the talent level. The big thing in the college’s belief is to make sure the student’s are a good fit, and that is true at any level of collegiate athletics.”