First Women for Navy Athletics Alumni Dinner A Success
Annapolis, Md.—More than 180 attendees, including Superintendent Admiral Ted Carter, Commandant of Midshipmen Captain Robert Chadwick and Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk, packed the Admiral Lawrence Room at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Friday night in the first of what will be an annual Women for Navy Athletics Alumni Dinner.
The Navy women’s lacrosse program was the featured team this year and more than 90 current and former players, coaches and administrators were in attendance to celebrate the history and the future of the sport at the Naval Academy.
“It was a wonderful evening of high energy and sincere camaraderie,” said Gladchuk. “It just felt so good to be together with special people who truly care about the history, traditions and future of our programs. The Women’s Lacrosse tribute was the focal point, but this dinner highlighted our intentions to create a consistent reminder of our many historic achievements and numerous stellar coaches and graduates who have excelled representing women’s sports at Navy.”
“Friday night was amazing. The turnout of lacrosse alums, family, parents and friends was unbelievable,” said Navy women’s lacrosse head coach Cindy Timchal. “The presence of not only Mr. Gladchuk, but the Superintendent and Commandant, as well, truly speaks to the magnitude of such a wonderful event. It was a true celebration of women who compete and have competed at the Naval Academy and the excellence and commitment to women’s sports.”
“The night was absolutely amazing. The energy in the room was vibrant. So many amazing women from all walks of life that began their journey right here at the Naval Academy and found a family within the lacrosse program,” said Lt. Dominique Wright, a 2012 graduate of the Naval Academy and one of the main organizers of the event. “We are extremely grateful for all the support we received from the Naval Academy Athletic Association, Women for Navy Athletics and the USNA Shared interest Group (SIG). I can’t wait for other women’s sports programs to experience this.”
Women’s lacrosse at the Naval Academy has a storied history. It was traditionally one of the top club programs in the country and when it was announced in 2006 that Navy was elevating the sport to varsity status, Gladchuk went out and hired the most successful coach in NCAA history.
Cindy Timchal, who won nine national championships at Maryland, came to Navy in 2007 and coached the club team to an 18-6 record and a berth in the championship game of the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse League.
Just two years later, Navy captured the Patriot League Regular Season and Tournament championships, earning an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Navy would win four consecutive Patriot League Championships, making another major breakthrough in 2014 when it beat Monmouth in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. That marked the first year the Mids were not forced to get past a play-in game.
In 2017, Navy shocked the lacrosse world by beating Penn, UMass and No. 1 ranked and defending National Champion North Carolina to become the first women’s Service Academy team to advance to the Final Four in any sport. Last year, Navy almost did it again before falling to defending National Champion Maryland, 17-15, in the NCAA Quarterfinals.
The Women for Navy Athletics committee was established as a Naval Academy Athletic Association (NAAA) initiative designed to engage and strengthen the connection of female Naval Academy graduates, midshipman student-athletes, families and friends in support of the NAAA’s Physical Mission priorities. Since 1980, more than 4,600 women have graduated from the Naval Academy and have gone on to excel in their military careers and beyond. Today, women comprise more than a quarter of the Brigade and 42 percent of women at the Naval Academy compete in Division I NCAA athletics on 15 different sports teams.
The Women for Navy Athletics committee supports the belief that every midshipman is a student-athlete. The goals of the Physical Mission are met on the playing fields, courts and pools whether through intramural, club or varsity participation. Additionally, all sports educate midshipmen through leadership, determination and teamwork. The Committee’s goal is to increase the number of women involved in supporting all Navy athletic programs.
“It was amazing to me that Navy could field a lacrosse team since there were only 300 women in the entire brigade when I was a midshipman,” said Mara Matthes (’82), who is co-chair of the Women for Navy Athletics committee. It was great to be part of the weekend and the success of the lacrosse team. The women’s sports program has come a long way. The atmosphere in the banquet room was full of energy, camaraderie and pride of the lacrosse team.”
“A lacrosse player can score a goal, but it takes a team to win the game. A woman as an individual can make a difference, but women as a group can make a significant impact. Involvement and participation are the key. We are excited about the future of more women supporting Navy athletics,’ said co-chair Lisa Quadrini, who is the widow of Michael Clark ‘69.
The event concluded with senior Anne Richter being presented the “Wings for Val.”
The Wings for Val Foundation was founded in memory of Lt. Valerie Cappealere Delaney, a Navy fighter pilot and former Navy women’s lacrosse player, who perished during a training mission on March 11, 2013, at the age of 26. At her funeral, what started as a simple idea by a few of her friends to leave their pilot’s wings with Val at Arlington, turned into an enormous response from nearly 200 fellow female aviators from all over the world. This inspired Val’s family to start the Wings for Val Foundation as a way to carry on Val’s legacy. The foundation provides scholarships to women pursuing careers in aviation and hopes to inspire young girls to spread their own wings in any career field using stories of Val and of all the women aviators who gave their wings.
The Wings for Val Award recognizes a current Navy Women’s Lacrosse senior who exhibits similar team spirit and hustle as Val did. Val wore the #6 jersey proudly and was the heart and soul of her team during its transition from a club sport to Division I. She is remembered by her teammates as being a source of positive encouragement no matter the situation.