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New Coaches and Conference Announced
Marywood University News
Marywood University News
October 18, 2018

Let the Games Begin: New Atlantic East Conference and New Coaches Announcements

Marywood University is among seven current NCAA Division III institutions approved by the NCAA to form the new Atlantic East Conference (AEC), effective September 1, 2018. Competition began at the start of the 2018-2019 season. The seven founding institutions of the Atlantic East include Marywood University, Cabrini University, Gwynedd Mercy University, Immaculata University, Marymount University, Neumann University, and Wesley College.

The Atlantic East was formed to foster athletic competition and cooperation among academically selective, private colleges located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The geographic focus will bring together some of the top colleges in the region, while still allowing for a strong conference of like-minded institutions, all of which integrate competitive athletics into the student-athlete's university experience. 

The Atlantic East was a culmination of efforts by the presidents and athletic directors of the seven institutions and was an extremely collaborative effort. Dr. Matt Shank, President of Marymount University and Chair of the Atlantic East President's Council said, "We are all excited to bring institutions together that share similar missions, values and beliefs along with the common understanding that athletics play an important role at our institutions."

The combination of the AEC geographic footprint and the institutional focus of the schools offers each institution the opportunity to enhance the student-athlete experience. Mr. Charles Sack, Director of Athletics and Recreation at Neumann University and Chair of the Atlantic East Athletic Director's Council, stated, "The collegiality and vision of this group of institutions is very compelling. The geographic footprint combined with each institution’s effort to complement its academic mission with a vibrant and dynamic student-athlete experience is amazing and will be a point of difference as we move forward together."

The Atlantic East will initially sponsor and host championships for 19 sports within the NCAA Division III. With seven schools, the Atlantic East will be eligible for automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament beginning in the 2020-2021 seasons in the sports that all schools offer.

Coaches Corner

Rob Ahrens

Men’s and Women’s Cross Country/Track and Field

“I am thrilled and extremely grateful to have the opportunity to direct the Cross Country and Track & Field programs at Marywood University. With my deep roots in the track and field community I hope to build on the success and growth the Pacers have enjoyed as we move to the fledgling Atlantic East Conference.”

Gabby Holko

Women’s Basketball

“I am very excited to be here at Marywood leading our women’s basketball program. Marywood is a very special place with a beautiful campus, amazing people, and wonderful academic majors. I want to make Marywood a destination and to recruit locally as well as throughout different regions. We are also looking to continue the winning culture that (Marywood) women’s basketball has had for many years in our newly created Atlantic East Conference!”

Peter Davenport

Men’s Tennis

“I am really looking forward to taking on my new role as the Head Men’s Tennis Coach.  I am fortunate to have had the privilege of serving as a Volunteer Assistant Coach with Marywood’s Track and Cross Country programs. The dedication that Marywood athletes devote to balancing their education and athletic pursuits is inspiring. This as a unique opportunity for me to combine my experience in education, coaching, athletics, and business to help develop healthy, happy, active, productive, and successful student athletes.”

John Velasco

Men’s Soccer

“To be part of such a special period in time at Marywood University, with a lot of new faces, is exciting and humbling for me. Being named the Head Men's Soccer Coach at Marywood University is such a rewarding challenge…the University and the soccer program have so much potential and room for growth. I would like to establish a healthy foundation for young men who want to succeed in all aspects of life and who are willing to be challenged on and off the pitch, with the focus of becoming better individuals by the time they graduate and conclude their time with the soccer program. We will earn that success and set the standard for future classes.”

John Butash


“I hope to continue the winning tradition of Marywood Softball. More importantly, our team will continue to strive for strong academic achievements and to be at the forefront of community service opportunities.”

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