The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts announced Thursday a multi-year plan to enhance the college’s athletics programming for years to come, including the return of men’s hockey to the North Adams, Mass.-based school and the implementation of a women’s hockey program.

Both programs will play at the NCAA Division III level.

“This exciting news continues the progress made with the revitalized, state-of-the-art Trailblazer Fitness Center renovation in 2020,” said MCLA president James Birge in a statement. “This multi-year plan is a further investment in our athletics program and the overall experience we provide our students and student-athletes. Positive student experiences help support retention, and we’re excited to continue to enhance our athletic facilities and offerings for students to enjoy.”

Both men’s and women’s hockey teams are scheduled to begin competing in the 2023-24 academic year. MCLA will begin searching for coaches for each team this spring.

While a women’s team will be a new addition, MCLA’s men’s hockey program has been dormant since the 2002-03 academic year and enjoyed a successful run during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“The college’s continued commitment to our athletics programs is exciting,” said MCLA director of athletics Laura Mooney. “These sweeping changes will provide our programs with the tools to be successful and will provide a better student-athlete experience while assisting in our recruitment efforts.”

Other plans for MCLA include replacement of the turf at Shewcraft Field, a fundraising campaign to support the installation of turf at the baseball and softball fields, and discontinuing the tennis programs due to “dwindling interest,” according to a news release.

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