Susan Dalton Saint Onge ’91 Says Thanks With Gift to Women’s Soccer
Susan Dalton Saint Onge ’91 left her mark as one of the Wilkes women’s soccer program’s inaugural team members. She’s making her mark again with a gift that helped to modernize the team’s locker rooms. In May 2015, Saint Onge and her husband, Kevin, who live in Fanwood, N.J., made a generous contribution of $10,000 for the project – one that is fitting for a player who helped to build a foundation for the more than 180 women who have played soccer for Wilkes since the sport began there in 1987.
Saint Onge designated her gift to the women’s soccer program because this was the area that meant the most to her while at Wilkes. “The most fun I ever had in the sport was during my four years on the Wilkes team,” she says.
“Susan and Kevin’s extremely generous gift made a great impact on our program, inspired our young women and helped us update our locker room space,” says women’s soccer head coach John Sumoski.
In this interview, Susan reflects on her experience as a soccer player and why she chooses to give back to Wilkes.
What is your favorite Wilkes memory?
I have many! One of the most exciting days on campus was when the entrepreneur and publisher Malcolm Forbes arrived via helicopter to dedicate Fortinsky Hall. Winter Weekend was always fun. I remember when the men’s soccer team won the 1990 ECAC Conference Title. And, of course, I remember when our team finally scored our first goal – thank you, Dawn Holser Acacio ’92!
What was it like to be part of the inaugural women’s soccer team at Wilkes?
Exciting and daunting. Those early years of the program were rough. We were, however, hard-working, dedicated and enjoyed the sport enough to show up for practice, even when we knew the odds of us winning the next game were slim-to-none. Looking back now, you could say we were pioneers, but at the time we were just young women having a blast doing something we loved.
What position did you play and what was your number?
I played defense – full back and stopper. I changed my number each year to match my age at the time – 18, 19, 20 and 21!
Who was the most influential person from Wilkes during your college career?
An influential person in my college career was former professor and field hockey Coach Gay Meyers. During my first weeks of freshman year, I experienced several personal and family tragedies. She was my academic advisor and stepped in to help me navigate through a difficult time.
What do you envision for the future of women’s soccer at Wilkes?
Having witnessed the program’s very humble beginnings, Coach John Sumoski has transformed this program into a high-level, world-class and well-respected program.
How did being part of a collegiate team help you in your career after Wilkes?
I believe athletics plays an integral part in work dynamics. Everything you do on and off the field contributes to the team. Improving your own skills, incorporating strategies, working with others, setting common goals, sharing ideas, dealing with adversity – all of those things contribute to your individual or team’s success or failure.
Why did you choose the women’s soccer program as a designation for your gift?
It is important to me, to help out where I could make a difference, and to contribute to something that meant the most to me during my time at Wilkes. I recognize and appreciate the importance of women’s sports programs and how often these programs are underserved, especially at small colleges.