|Title:||Class of 2011|
|Organization:||Field Hockey, Basketball and Softball|
Michele (Giard) Hanly recently returned to visit WPI and was amazed at the development and expansion of the campus and the athletic programs. When she arrived on Boynton Hill in the late 1970s, WPI had a combined six women’s varsity and advanced club teams. Three-sport pioneers like Giard helped WPI women’s athletic programs advance to become the pillars of success that they are today.
In the fall of 1978, she got involved with the field hockey program and saw it rapidly expand during her four years. After playing as a club team the first three seasons (and serving as the top scorer during her sophomore campaign) the squad made an immediate impact in the collegiate field hockey world as the Engineers went a whopping 21-7 in their debut varsity season in 1981. As a senior, Giard finished second on a team that made the NCAA Tournament in goals (14) and points (32).
Winter was a particular busy time for her. She took her talents into Harrington Auditorium where she was a standout on the basketball team. She overcame an injury during her freshman season to earn a varsity letter. After a sophomore season that saw her play in all 19 games and move into a starting role, a season-ending ankle injury curtailed her junior year after the opening game. She bounced back with authority during the 1981-82 season, averaging 7.3 points to go along with 114 assists and 41 steals as she led the Crimson and Gray to a stellar 14-9 record.
Giard would wrap up a busy year of athletics on the softball diamond. An RBI machine, she tallied 41 career runs batted, including 18 each during her sophomore and junior seasons. She was also a threat on the base paths as she posted double-digit career stolen base numbers. As is typical with programs that she played in, the Engineers complied an impressive 37-19 (.661) record over her four years.
Tom Vallani, classmate and member of the Hall of Fame Selection Committee remembers, "Michele was a true pioneer in the annals of WPI women's athletics. She played in an era in which female athletic participation was just beginning to take hold at the college level in terms of its relative importance. She was a very good player in three different sports, each requiring a completely different skill set. She earned respect and recognition from her teammates by being named captain to all three sports teams during her senior year."
“Michele was the epitome of the perfect teammate," says Sue Chapman, former WPI head coach, and 1996 Hall of Famer. "She was a quiet and unassuming leader who led by example. Her solid work ethic and unselfish style of play elevated everyone around her."
After graduating, Michele worked as an engineer for 10 years. In 1992 she became an at-home mom raising three daughters: Megan, Colleen, and Kathryn. During those years she was very active as a community volunteer. Currently, she works part-time as a science lab teacher at St. John School in Old Saybrook, Conn., and has just completed the Connecticut Alternate Route to Teacher Certification program. She and her husband, John Hanly ’82, are longtime residents of Old Saybrook.