The year 2015 marks two milestones in the history of Geneseo athletics. The men’s basketball program will mark its 100th year of existence, while the men’s hockey program will celebrate its 40th season.
The first Geneseo Knights hockey team took the ice for the 1974-75 season, playing in the Finger Lakes Collegiate Hockey Association. The team’s first opponent was Syracuse University, with the Knights prevailing by a score of 8-4. (That matchup remains the first and only hockey game played against the Orange.)
That first season was quite successful, as the team compiled a record of 18-7-1 and finished in second place in the conference with a 9-2-1 mark. Opponents from that season who would be familiar to today’s fans include Morrisville, Potsdam, Cortland and Elmira. Squads besides Syracuse that have since disappeared from the Knights’ schedule include St. John Fisher, Niagara, RIT, Canisius and Gannon.
This year’s season will be the 40th played by a Knights’ hockey squad, so as 2015 begins, we will be celebrating “40 Seasons of Geneseo Knights Hockey.” This year’s alumni hockey game festivities will expand to the weekend of Feb. 13-14. Former players can take part in an alumni game, alumni reception and attend games against Cortland (Feb. 13) and Oswego (Feb. 14).
The origins of the men’s basketball program are a bit more murky. From research by staff from both the athletic department and Milne Library, the first team to represent the Geneseo Normal School was either in 1900 or 1901. However the early teams were a bit loose in their interpretation of who was eligible to compete, as players from Geneseo High School took the floor, as well as some from local amateur squads. Like the rosters, the schedules were a mix of high school and numerous local teams. (For example, in 1903, a local paper reported the presence of 12 basketball squads alone in the village of Geneseo.) The team which “represented” the school in 1908 was “not a school team, but most of its members were attending school and interest among the students was almost as intense as if the Independent team had been their own.”
A “Statistical Abstract” of Geneseo teams between 1896-1968 was compiled by student Horace H. Bradley. Through his research in school yearbooks and The Lamron, Bradley found some interesting facts, including:
- A team was organized in 1901, but apparently played no games.
- The 1907 team “beat many high school teams” and “broke even with North Tonawanda, which claimed the high school championship of the state.”
- Only one game was played in 1908, with the remainder of the season cancelled because of “an unexpected circumstance.”
- Evidence of teams between 1909-1914 is scarce; officially Bradley could only find results in 1901, 1905 and 1908 and coaches for those squads were all unidentified.
However from 1915 on, a team would represent Geneseo Normal School and its successors (except for the World War II years) and official school and coaching records date from that year.