By Taylor Viles– 1851 Staff
Lasell’s athletic program boasts over 300 student-athletes and includes 17 varsity teams between men’s and women’s sports. It may surprise some that Lasell wasn’t always a Division III NCAA school, and the person responsible for Lasell’s athletic department, Kristy Walter, is still working tirelessly as the Director of Athletics today.
Walter came to Lasell in 1992 as part of a graduate placement for her master’s program at Northeastern University. “I did it for the first year, part-time just to get my degree,” said Walter. “It was 10 months and I thought I would just do that and then I’d be done.” Lasell eventually asked her to stay on part-time for another year.
At that time, Lasell barely fielded sports teams. “It wasn’t really intramural and it wasn’t really competitive,” she said. “We were kind of in this no-man’s-land.” She took the lack of athletics at Lasell and created her senior project out of it, titled “Why Lasell should [have] NCAA Division III sports and what athletics could bring to the school.” This was the foundation of how Lasell began NCAA play.
She was soon hired full-time by Lasell to create the program and ended up staying because “every year it was a new job,” said Walter. “We went from two years to four years, we went from no affiliation to the NCAA, [and] we went from single-sex to co-ed.”
She explained with the growth of the student body, the athletic department was able to expand the number of sports they offered, which attracted more students to Lasell. “When I started we had four teams and about…50 student-athletes,” Walter said. “Our whole population at that time was 300 or 400 students. Now our incoming classes are 300 or 400 students.”
Other notable athletic milestones Walter has overseen during her time with Lasell are as follows:
- In the Fall of 1997, the school opened the first Athletic Center when they moved from a makeshift “gym” in the Winslow Academic Center.
- In 1998, Lasell became a member of the NCAA.
- In 2005, Fieldturf was installed on Grellier Field and is used by the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams and the field hockey team.
- Co-chaired the mascot committee along with eight others to produce “Boomer”
- Taylor Field was completely renovated several times over, most recently in 2013, and is home to the men’s and women’s soccer teams as well as the softball team.
- In 2017, athletics created Lasell’s Hall of Fame and inducted its inaugural class in the biannual tradition.
On top of creating a successful athletic program, “I’ve tried to be an advocate for the athletes across campus,” said Walter. “Sometimes [people] have a stereotype of ‘the dumb jock.’ I’m…really pushing to them what a Division III philosophy is. These students-athletes here really want to be successful in [athletics and academics.] So how can we support them both ways?”
It wasn’t until after graduating from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania when Walter began to seriously consider sports management. “I had worked for four years in the athletic department [of Allegheny College], and just thought that athletic administration would be a way to combine communications and marketing with sports,” said Walter. Her official masters degree from Northeastern was in Sports Administration.
In terms of her future, Walter acknowledges there could be something else out there for her that she may want to experience besides athletics. “I think if I leave here, I would like to do something in a different area altogether,” she said. But for now, she’s content with her place in life. “I think there are possibilities to maybe add some sports and to grow…so I don’t feel like I’m ready to go right now.”