Reading, Pa. (August 3, 2020) – Alvernia University Director of Athletics Bill Stiles announced Monday the addition of three new varsity sports that will bring the school’s total to 30.
Alvernia will add Esports beginning in the 2021-22 school year and add Women’s Wrestling and Men’s Ice Hockey in the 2022-23 school year. Esports will be varsity sport number 28 for the Golden Wolves and following the addition of Women’s Wrestling and Men’s Ice Hockey, Alvernia will be at 30 sports.
“As always, we are looking to meet the needs of our students and community while also providing additional opportunities to prospective student-athletes,” said Stiles. “Like many of our sports, particularly the ones we’ve added in the past 5-6 years, these offerings will allow us to recruit and retain new students while expanding our geographic recruiting footprint.”
Esports will join the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). Men’s Ice Hockey will be an NCAA Division III team and join Alvernia’s Women’s Ice Hockey program in the MAC and has applied to also join the United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC). Women’s Wrestling will also be NCAA Division III. Alvernia joins Delaware Valley as the only two schools in the MAC to sponsor Women’s Wrestling.
“The addition of Esports provides Alvernia with an opportunity to offer an experience that students really enjoy and will add to our overall experience at AU,” said Alvernia University President John R. Loyack. “Our vision for the program is for Alvernia to become the Esports Hub of Berks County with a dedicated, state of the art esports suite as part of Reading CollegeTowne.”
The university plans to run the first year of esports on main campus in Kenhorst with the team moving to a state of the art facility as part of the first phase of the Reading CollegeTowne program in the fall of 2022.
Alvernia recently completed the purchase of a building at 401 Penn St. in downtown Reading as the centerpiece of the Reading CollegeTowne movement, the innovative strategy of expanding the campus into the downtown area to continue its Franciscan mission of education, service and community engagement. The building will be the home of new and expanded academic programming and extra-curricular activities, including engineering, business, communications, as well as provide student housing, and the creation of new opportunities for community engagement activity.. The university has already partnered with several businesses and local government officials through the university’s newly rebranded O’Pake Institute for Economic Development, which serves as the catalyst for educational and business expansion in center city.
Alvernia will be the 12th school in the Middle Atlantic Conference to sponsor esports and will join most of the schools as a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). All scheduling and competition will take place through NACE with one local, off-campus tournament each year. The addition of esports allows Alvernia to play a national schedule against teams the university rarely otherwise competes against–including some larger Division I schools–without leaving campus.
“Building upon the successes and momentum of our men’s wrestling and women’s ice hockey programs, which started last year, the next logical step was to provide additional opportunities for women and men, respectively,” said Stiles. “And, the recent addition of women’s wrestling to the list of NCAA Emerging Sports for Women allows Alvernia to be at the forefront of a sport that is growing exponentially for girls in high schools and clubs.”
Men’s Ice Hockey will use the Body Zone as its home rink with plans in the works to build an additional locker room dedicated to the team. Alvernia will continue to enhance its relationship with The Reading Royals and Santander Arena–which could be a potential host for some home games as well.
There are currently 10 universities within a three hour radius of Alvernia that sponsor Women’s Wrestling and more to come with the NCAA recently adding it to its list of emerging sports. Alvernia will compete in dual matches and invitationals against those 10 schools in its first season and also look to compete in the Cliff Keen National Collegiate Championship that enters its second season in 2020-21.
The search for head coaches for all three sports will take place this fall.