New athletic director aims to strengthen athletics program

By SHANNON VENEGAS

With no basketball team last season and another new athletic director, Mount Mary University’s athletic future may appear questionable.

Mount Mary has been a part of the NCAA Division III since only 2009. Prior to this, most of Mount Mary’s athletic involvement surrounded Field Day, Mount Mary’s annual recreational day for students, and intramural groups on campus. The first coaches were hired in the 1980s.

Photo by MICHELLE STEPNIESWINew athletic director Mark Heidorf plans to focus on player recruitment and retention.

Photo by MICHELLE STEPNIESWI
New athletic director Mark Heidorf plans to focus on player recruitment and retention.

According to Mount Mary cross -country Coach Eugene Miranda, Mount Mary had few formal teams before he started coaching 7 years ago.

“Mount Mary is new into sports,” Miranda said. “With a new program, the kinks need to be worked out.”

New athletic director Mark Heidorf is focusing on three goals as he begins a career with Mount Mary: Recruit, retain, develop.

Some of the long-term goals include getting the department in an official Division III conference, acquiring home facilities for tennis and softball and hiring more full-time staff.

Heidorf is focusing on his short-term goals, specifically game day efforts. After calling around to some of the Division III schools that Mount Mary competes with,

Heidorf was able to identify some athletic weaknesses fall on game day events. He plans to increase student workers, add music, have qualified officials and a professional public announcer, and even do things as simple as give out helpful directions to visiting teams.

“I’ve been around NCAA Division III long enough now that in order to compete with these schools, these are some of the things that we need to do,” Heidorf said, emphasizing that he has attended and worked at almost entirely Division III schools.

Heidorf has promised to change one thing from last year and that is the presence of a basketball team.

Heidorf needs six students to step on the court 20 times.

“Just putting a team on the court for a full season, getting practices, is a step in the right direction for us,” he said.

Miranda said Mount Mary needs time to build up its athletic program.

“High school kids, they want to look at successful programs,” Miranda said. “We are considered pretty weak. We have to build it up.”

Heidorf hopes to recruit more athletic-driven students.

It’s important to go outside the normal radius because many students are willing to travel in order to get the opportunity to play sports in college, he said.

“Statistically speaking, student athletes tend to carry a higher GPA, be more ethnically and geographically diverse, and live on campus longer than a general student population,” he said.

On Oct. 26, Mount Mary hosts an “Athletics Open House” to provide information to high school students who want to continue their sports career in college.

“There are things I’m very excited about, things I’m very optimistic about,” Heidorf said.

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