10 Bold W&M Athletics Predictions for the Next Decade: 2020s

The future is bright for a W&M Athletics program on the rise. [photo via tribeathletics.com]
We’ve finally reached the turn of the decade. A lot can happen in ten years; just think about what happened over the Tribe’s last ten: W&M won several CAA championships across multiple sports, a new Athletic Director was hired, a legendary football coach retired, and the campus’ oldest stadium added an upper deck.
With all that having happened (and more!) over the last ten years, imagine what can and will happen from 2020-2030. With that in mind, we make 10 bold W&M athletics predictions for this coming decade. Roll Tribe Roll.

1. The Dillard Complex will become W&M Athletics’ main hub

In W&M’s most recent athletics strategy document, dubbed the 2025 Strategic Plan, it mentioned that the Dillard Complex (off Ironbound Road) will be completely redone. Track and field will be relocated there full-time, and the complex will likely include new locker rooms, training areas, and more.

In its present state, W&M athletics currently is housed almost entirely within the bowels of Kaplan Arena; outside of football, which of course stakes its claim to the Laycock Center, just about every single coach has a small office in Kaplan’s basement. Suffice to say, these facilities are antiquated and in dire need of an upgrade.

That’s where this new Dillard complex comes into play. Given far more open space and located just off campus, W&M could very easily run shuttle buses to and from the main sections of campus for both student athletes and coaches alike.

Now, we understand that Kaplan Arena will undergo a major facelift in the near future — but it would not at all surprise us if much of the athletics department’s teams relocate to Dillard as their HQ 2.0.

2. Kaplan Arena’s renovation will cut its seating capacity by 25%-50% 

We just mentioned Kaplan Arena’s renovation, didn’t we? Another component of W&M’s 2025 Strategic Plan is the complete renovation of Kaplan Arena. Opening in 1971, the 11,300-seat arena is way past its prime. Not only is it far too big for just about every athletic event on campus, but it’s also showing its age.

That’s where our prediction comes in: W&M’s Kaplan Arena renovation will include cutting the arena’s seating capacity by anywhere between 25%-50%. Don’t believe us?

Let’s compare Kaplan (again, 11,300 seats) to some CAA comps:

  • Towson’s SECU Arena – 5,200
  • Elon’s Schar Center – 5,100
  • JMU’s New Convocation Center – 8,600
  • W&M’s Average 2018-19 Attendance – 3,792

And don’t worry, the soon-to-be renovated 25%-50% of the Kap will be put to good use. In its place will likely be video boards, luxury seating areas, lounge areas, improved concessions, and more. The Precarious Pavillion beer hall (recently erected at Kaplan Arena) is just one glimpse into the future of W&M Athletics Director Samantha Huge‘s vision for an enhanced fan experience moving forward.

Mark our words: the next version of Kaplan Arena will be smaller, but the arena’s overall amenities will be greatly enhanced.

3. W&M will lose a sport or two 

Yes, there are no official plans or announcements for this happening today — but there are always rumors. And sometimes, just sometimes, rumors are based on actual facts. Without adequate funding to finally move the men’s and women’s swimming teams out of the Rec Center (yes, the same one students still use) today, the programs may find themselves in dire need of a financial bail out.

If no one comes to the rescue, one of the most successful sports in W&M history might be left out to dry (no pun intended). Now while we absolutely don’t want this to happen, it’s a serious possibility. Not only with swimming, but it wouldn’t surprise us if another program, for one reason or another, misses the cut.

While we wouldn’t dare speculate on any of this presently, it’s always something that fans should stay aware of moving forward.

4. But W&M will gain a sport or two 

Fear not, if W&M were to lose a sport for one reason or another, it could potentially open the way for new sports programs on campus. Yes, we sometimes hear folks clamoring for W&M to bring back its wrestling team. But perhaps a more sound investment would be in men’s lacrosse — which we suggested in the recent past.

Another sport that would perhaps make a lot of sense is women’s softball. How about men’s and women’s rowing? And last but not least, and this being the hardest one for folks to wrap their heads around: what about esports?

Yes, it doesn’t make sense to the majority of you now, but we promise you, esports will only become more mainstream, not less. If you don’t believe us, read the recent article we wrote, debating the merits of a formalized esports program at W&M.

In the end, W&M may look to better adapt its existing athletics portfolio with the times, or to better reflect the demographics of the school and nation itself. Richmond created its own men’s lacrosse team in recent years; the program has experienced immense success on the national stage — regularly taking part in the NCAA Tournament. Of course, that didn’t come without cutting another men’s sport first.

Again, we’re not here to speculate on the specifics, but it’s another potential situation to watch for this coming decade.

5. Football will win the CAA outright under Mike London

Call us homers. Call us delirious. Call us whatever you want. But we really feel as though London is the right guy for this job. From the staff he’s brought in, to the culture he’s in the process of instilling, we can’t help but think that it’s only a matter of time until London and the boys put it all together.

If there’s something that London has been known for throughout his tenures as head coach at Richmond, UVA, and Howard, it’s his ability to recruit. And at a school such as W&M, which regularly finds itself  “handicapped” due to strict academic recruiting standards, a recruiting-minded coach such as London can help to solve that issue.

Now we know it’s only been one year, and yes we know the CAA contains perennial football powerhouses such as JMU. But hey, there’s only so long JMU can hold off from moving up to the FBS…right? Can the AAC just give them a call already? Seriously…we digress.

Overall, we like what’s cookin’ in the ‘Burg at Zable Stadium — and no, we’re not talking about Paul’s Deli. We expect a CAA Championship (cue LeBron: or two, or three, or four) this decade. And we expect London to bring it home.

6. W&M will qualify for its first-ever NCAA Basketball Tournament 

WE SAID IT. Could it happen this year? Perhaps (knock on wood). Not only do we love the London hire, but we’re also finding ourselves loving the Dane Fischer hire more and more. 

Defense. It was something that seriously lacked under the Shaver regime; and don’t get us wrong, we loved Shaver and thought he was a great coach — especially offensively. But for whatever reason, Shaver’s teams could never figure it out on the defensive end of the court.

Ever heard the saying, “defense travels?” Well, while it’s a football phrase, it certainly applies in basketball too — and under Fischer, this W&M team is already making a name for itself at the defensive end of the court. With a scheme that’s seemingly less reliant on how well the team shoots the ball from night to night, Fischer’s calm demeanor and overall defensive game plan should give Tribe fans everywhere serious reason to believe.

If it doesn’t happen with Fischer and superstar Nathan Knight this season, we still have complete faith that Fischer can be the guy to finally get W&M out of the “Sad Four” original D-1 teams who have never made the NCAA Tournament, and to the Dance.

7. …More than Once 

Yes, we said that too. We call this prediction, “For the Bold.” If W&M is lucky enough to make it to the NCAA Tournament this season (again…knock on wood), Fischer has a serious chance to take W&M to the promised land, not once, but multiple times during this decade.

Of course, as a “mid-major” school, W&M would have to somehow stave off “bigger” basketball schools from stealing Dane away — but hey, if the guy were to bring us two, hell, even one, NCAA Tournament berth, he’s already done enough in our book to never have to pay for a beer in Williamsburg again.

#1bid4wmtribe

8. Zable Stadium will lose the track surrounding the football field

This prediction one is tied to the Dillard Complex overhaul mentioned in #1 above, but we wanted to drive it home: no longer will Zable Stadium have a track surrounding the football field.

Our football stadium, now donning a majestic upper deck, suites, video boards, and modern day amenities probably shouldn’t be paired with a track surrounding the field. It really is as simple as that. 

And yes, track should get its own, state-of-the-art facilities at Dillard, where the program will continue to dominate CAA opponents as it often does. But for W&M football fans, it will be a long time coming — as we’re not even sure that any version of Zable has ever existed without a track (Old Guarde, tell us if we’re wrong here).

9. A W&M alum will be the Head Coach in a Super Bowl game

Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills head coach. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach…Joe Brady, potential future head coach? W&M is slowly but surely becoming the cradle of NFL coaches.

The “small, academic” school in Williamsburg currently boasts not one, but two, NFL head coaches. And as of this week, Joe Brady is the youngest offensive coordinator in the league, at just 30 years old, now working for the Carolina Panthers.

Sometime this decade, and we don’t know when or with which coach this will happen, but a W&M head coach will again hoist the Lombardi trophy. Hopefully, for the writers of this blog who are diehard Buffalo Bills fans, it will be Sean McDermott — however, we’ll settle for any of the three named above.

And we don’t make this claim randomly; both McDermott and Tomlin were/are in serious contention for NFL Coach of the Year honors this season. McDermott has completely turned around a long-fledgling franchise in the Buffalo Bills, as the team is now perennial playoff contenders. Tomlin this season nearly brought his injury-riddled team to the playoffs, withstanding multiple injuries at the all-important quarterback position to seriously contend with good teams.

And hey, you never know what the future holds for Joe Brady, but my goodness is his future bright. We believe!

10. Marcus Thornton AND Nathan Knight will have their numbers retired

Now it should come as no surprise to anyone that Marcus Thornton will have his jersey retired — in fact, W&M athletics has already told us that whenever Marcus can make it back to a W&M game during the season, his jersey will be retired. The issue is more of a logistical one at this point, as Marcus is currently playing basketball abroad; this unfortunately doesn’t make it easy for him to just pack his bags and come back to the ‘Burg for the ceremony.

The bolder prediction here is in Nathan Knight. But is it really even that bold? Knight is perhaps the best big man in W&M history. A serious pro prospect who is currently leading the league in double-doubles, we’ve never seen a W&M player who can so seriously contribute at both ends of the court.

If he’s the one that brings W&M to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history this year, he’ll go down as a William & Mary basketball legend that was able to accomplish something that no other has ever done in the 90+ history of the program.

Say it with us one more time:

#1bid4wmtribe

3 thoughts on “10 Bold W&M Athletics Predictions for the Next Decade: 2020s

  1. “…as we’re not even sure that any version of Zable has ever existed without a track (Old Guarde, tell us if we’re wrong here).”

    Not Olde Guarde here — that would be my mom — but old pictures do exist, and they show the track’s ALWAYS been there since the stadium opened in 1935. (Aside for newer readers: Walt Zable played for W&M in the first-ever football game at the stadium that now bears his name.)

    This is no surprise, as nearly ALL college football stadia had a track surrounding them back then. In fact, the existence of the tracks was the reason that, when formal end zones were instituted in the 1920s, the distance between goal lines was shortened from 110 yards to 100, and the end zones set at 10 yards long each — because 120 yards was just enough to squeeze inside the almost-omnipresent track.

  2. Thank you very much for this great post! I really enjoyed reading it! I have recently published a new series on my blog which recaps the latest week in sport. This week also includes a feature article on the late Kobe Bryant and his legacy. If you have time, it would be great if you could check out my post and let me know your thoughts! Thanks 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s