Sports & Outdoors

Behind the scenes of the athletic department

By Gabi Marrese

The structural and logistical aspects of the athletic program have been changing throughout history. Puget Sound Athletics has been in the Division II, NAIA and Division I baseball at one point. The athletic department finally got into a set system when the Loggers joined the Division-III Northwest Conference in 1999. Around that same time, Amy Hackett decided to take the position of Director of Athletics in 2003.

“We were still trying to understand what that [the Division-III model] meant for our program. We were without scholarships and back to being maroon and white, while trying to figure out how competitive we wanted to be in a Division-III program and how competitive we were allowed to be within the restructured Northwest Conference,” Hackett said.

Along with settling into a new division, Hackett was working with then-president Ron Thomas on improving Lower Baker field.

“When I first came here that was essentially an uneven bog. It used to be known as the ‘Baker Bog’ so it was a non-usable field once the rains hit and didn’t have lights. That was one of the first things we did on a facility level,” Hackett said.

As a Division-III athletic program, the Loggers realized that this didn’t mean they could not be competitive but instead had the ability to promote the Division-III philosophy.

The NCAA describes the Division-III experience as, “Academics are the primary focus for Division III student-athletes. The division minimizes the conflicts between athletics and academics and helps student-athletes progress toward graduation through shorter practice and playing seasons and regional competition that reduces time away from academic studies. Participants are integrated on campus and treated like all other members of the student body, keeping them focused on being a student first.”

Complying with the NCAA rules and promoting the Division-III model is only one of many responsibilities of the Director of Athletics. Puget Sound has  had 14 head coaches for 23 varsity programs and approximately 500 student athletes.

“My role is director of physical education, athletics and recreation. I also oversee our administrative staff, which includes our head athletic trainer, who is our Director of Sports Medicine, Director of Athletics Communication, and office coordination. I serve as the budget manager, business manager for our department, by managing our department budget as well as all of our different accounts and processing payments. Student Athlete Welfare is one of the number of topics as to how we care for our student athletes from our sports medicine area to different programing including academic support that we offer,” Hackett said.

This job covers a large area of oversight in many different fields. It is not for everyone and takes a particular person interested in this area to take on what Hackett does. Hackett started off working for minor league professional baseball in Tennessee before heading back to graduate school for her masters in sports administration. She then started at Santa Clara as the Associate Athletic Director and decided to stay in the area of college athletics. Before coming to Puget Sound she was an Associate Athletic Director at University of Utah.

“I got started very young. My friends always joked that I was the one who was organizing the neighborhood kickball games. I played sports growing up but I also had an idea with the organizational side and really started looking at that part at a very young point in career development, even at the high school level,” Hackett said.

Hackett and the dedicated associates in her department work relentlessly to successfully operate a program like this. In addition to starting off a busy year the athletic department said goodbye to Robin Hamilton, Associate Director of Athletics.

“She had a huge impact on our program — 32 years of dedication to the University, institutional knowledge and a lot of that is still probably in her head. And understanding and making sure we were able to start the year in an easy transition was a challenge this year. I think more importantly her presence, understanding of the institution and her commitment to the University will feel that absence throughout this year as we get our footing and understand the scope of her influence,” Hackett said.

Hamilton’s position is filled on a temporary/interim basis and will be evaluated further whether the job remains designed or where the program needs necessary support. Not many see all the work that goes into even one sporting event and our athletic program consistently has at least one home game each weekend. This means that there is never a dull moment in the department and the hours of work they put in on behalf of the University.