SGA Holds Listening Session as Holy Cross Searches for the Next Athletic Director
Published: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 22, 2013 16:09
This fall Semester marks a busy time of year for the Holy Cross Athletics Department. The college will be conducting a search to find the next athletic director. Former Athletic Director Richard M. Reagan ’76, who has held this position since 1998, officially announced in July he will be stepping down. Two listening session were held on September 5 and 6, one for students, and the other for faculty and administrators, with the hope for them to communicate and provide input into the search process. Choosing who should be the next advocate for the athletics department is no easy task, which is why Holy Cross hired a recruiting firm, DHR International, to conduct the search with the hope of finalizing a decision sometime this fall. Holy Cross President, Philip Boroughs, S.J. also appointed a small search committee to assist in the review of possible candidates.
Due to the student information session held on September 6 conflicting with practice schedules for most of the sports teams, the Student Government Association (SGA) took the initiative and held an additional listening session on Thursday September 12 in HoganSuite A for not only student-athletes but also anyone interested. Although not many students were able to attend, those present provided great insight, questions and concerns in relation to the search for the next athletic director. SGA Co-Directors for Student Athletics, Payton Shubrick ’15, a member of Women’s Track and Field, and Anthony Russo ’14, a member of Men’s Swimming and Diving, were moderators for the listening session. A mix of student-athletes and students discussed and proposed ideas.
Since many of those present were not in attendance at either of the two listening sessions previously mentioned last week, Shubrick and Russo summarized the main concerns of the previous listening sessions. These focused on individual concerns for certain sports teams. There were, however, main concerns that were common throughout. The sports teams advocated for improved maintenance of the fields, better facilities, meal plans adaptable to athletes, and more locker rooms. At this time, not all of the 27 Division 1 sports teams at Holy Cross have their own locker room. Also, visiting teams typically need to use the swimming locker rooms. Most importantly, the DHR recruiters stressed finding an athletic director who will work within and embrace the tradition at Holy Cross, but at the same time also expand and provide new ideas and insights.
Increased promotion urging more students to attend games also came up. Russo and Shubrick assisted in the advertised SGA Game of the Week, which began last year. Each week SGA promotes one of the home games, urging students to come support their Crusaders. This also allows a variety of teams to receive attendance at games and receive recognition. According to Russo, “the number of people coming to the SGA games has increased.” Another program launched by SGA, the Crusader Loyalty Program, has been less successful but is still growing. Russo and Shubrick have a great relationship with Ann Zelesky, one of the Associate Athletic Directors, who is always at all of the SGA games of the week. Daniel Kagdis, Assistant Director for Student Involvement, noted roughly 75% of students at Holy Cross played sports in high school, so there is potential for a greater presence of the student body at games due to an already strong inclination towards sports. Those that were present also advocated for better communication between the athletics department and academics. The main priority at Holy Cross is academics, yet some students stated at the listening session that they feel to a certain degree they sacrifice academics for athletics, including the need to miss several classes for participation in games.
Emily Sullivan ’14, a member of the Women’s Ice Hockey team said, “I hope for more opportunities for all the sports teams to come together as a whole.” Sullivan also thinks more individual communication between athletes and the next athletic director would be helpful various times throughout the year. Although Sullivan plays hockey at Holy Cross, she has personally never spoken to anyone within the athletics department. It is often difficult due to conflicting and busy schedules for both athletes and the athletics department to communicate, yet once in a while there is a hope that eventually they will come together and express any concerns or share ideas. Lastly, Sullivan stressed the importance to involve the Holy Cross alumni more at games on a regular basis. While there are a few opportunities each year that specifically focus on Alumni Sporting events, many agreed there should be more opportunities.
Shubrick also advocates for action to involve the community more. Holy Cross students and faculty reach out in many ways to the Worcester Community through outreach programs SPUD, and more, but there is less attention on involving the community within the athletic tradition here. “I would love to have residents of the Worcester community feel welcomed to attend our athletic events and games on a regular basis,” Shubrick says. “While there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, there is a lot of potential here,” says Shubrick, referring to the changes that need to be made with the appointment of the next athletic director at Holy Cross. This is a very exciting time for the college, and the recruiters will do their best to select the best possible candidate for this Division 1 College. In summary, all those present agreed upon someone who will raise the standards of the athletics department, and most importantly, whoever is chosen must understand the mission of this small liberal arts Jesuit College.