The Norwich Cadets defeated St. Michael’s 8-0 Friday night, securing coach Mark Bolding’s 200th career win. He became just the seventh coach in D-III history to reach the milestone, but what makes it so much more impressive is that Bolding reached that mark just six games into his 10th season at the helm of the Cadets. With just 25 games in the women’s Division III season, reaching the 200-win plateau in less than 10 full seasons says remarkable things about the consistency and success of the squads Bolding has coached.Bolding says the first team he coached finished their season right around the .500 mark, and he credits them with setting a precedent for all the teams that have come since. Bolding said he and his staff “sold the dream” of success to that first team and the players they have recruited since and that’s created an expectation of winning, and an expectation of postseason play.The Cadets’ season was cut shorter than they’d have liked last year and they’re using that as motivation to grow this year. With just two seniors and a large freshman class, Bolding may have his work cut out for him, but thus far Norwich appears to be right on track. Their only loss thus far in the young season was to three-time defending champ and current no. 1 Plattsburgh.Bolding said he purposefully adds nonconference games against teams like Plattsburgh and Elmira to their already tough NEHC schedule so that the Cadets are prepared to face — and beat — top talent when it comes to the NCAA tournament.”We’ve tried our best to find the toughest nonconference opponents we can. At the end of the day, if you’re fortunate enough to get to the tournament, those are the types of teams you’re going to see. We just have to learn that even though these aren’t league games, these are good for positioning.”Though he’s scheduled with the postseason in mind, Bolding isn’t looking past the games his team has to play week-to-week. Despite his planning for the team’s preparation, he knows that none of that matters if they don’t take care of their conference opponents.”(There) are teams that every night want to beat us; that’s the competition we need in the league,” Bolding said. “We have to get out of our league first and foremost. Really the whole process is getting back to the basics, because it’s really irrelevant if you can’t get out of your league.”The Norwich University motto is “I will try.””That’s a great line and it goes with the discipline of the university and what we are as a school; now we need to see it on the ice,” he said.Talent is often natural, but the motivation and compete level that he looks for in players is something that can rarely be taught. Neither can having the confidence to feel as though you can compete with the top teams in the country.It’s something Bolding thinks his team might struggle with, but that they are working on every day on and off the ice.”You’re not going to be great every night, but you just hope that they learn how to compete and truly understand that every game is important, every period is important,” he said. “It’s really teaching them all about life — having your student-athletes comprehend what work ethic is and what it’s all about. As the talent level and the ability of all the programs gets higher, no one is going to hand you anything. You have to go out and earn it. That’s the fun part of coaching, figuring out a different way to motivate the student-athlete. Even if you’ve got all the tools, you’ve got to bring it every night — including in practice.”
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