By DJ Greenzweig
From just a short Zoom call with President Kenneth Hawkinson and Vice President of University Relations and Athletics Matt Santos, it is clear that KU’s administration considers its student body and athletes as a high priority. From keeping coaches active on the KU campus to finding new ways for student athletes to contribute, this difficult semester proves the Golden Bear spirit will not waiver.
Dr. Hawkinson considers campus pride an important priority. “Spirit comes from the magic that happens at a residential university where you put a bunch of young people together under mentors, under coaches, professors, etc. The sum is indeed greater than its parts,” Hawkinson said.
Since the cancellation of the fall athletic season a few weeks prior to move in, keeping spirits high was certainly a concern. From the athletes who looked forward to a full season ahead to the student body ready to cheer them on, everyone was sure to feel the loss from not being able to attend athletic events, such as Saturday morning home games at Andre Reed stadium.
However, Matt Santos said that these athletes will simply be finding new purposes and new ways to have an impact on and around campus.
“There will be obvious voids on weekends like homecoming and family day with the absence of sporting events, but I think, if anything, the past six months has proved how resilient the Golden Bear family is and how high the spirit of the campus will continue to be,” Santos said.
One factor the administration addressed was the suspension of part-time athletic coaches’ contracts over the summer. The university had lacked the revenue to cover these contracts due to the inability to hold athletic events and fundraisers.
This decision had greatly impacted two programs in particular: cheerleading and women’s bowling, both have head coaches who are part-time. As a result, these programs lost their oversight for the fall semester.
For many student athletes, their sport’s athletic program was an important factor in their decision to attend the university.
Cheer is what originally attracted sophomore Logan Dellacona to KU in the first place. “The cheerleading program at Kutztown initially introduced me to the possibilities I could not only have as a student, but as an athlete as well,” Dellacona said.
Fortunately, Matt Santos led the decision to reinstate both coaches’ contracts, effective as soon as the next pay period. Currently, every athletic program at KU has at least one contracted coach leading their team.
Athletics at KU will continue to have these coaches as mentors to assist in building spirit, reevaluating purposes for athletes, and giving seniors a chance to help recruit new athletes for the following seasons.
Coaches are invaluable in helping seniors prepare for life after KU.
The importance of these athletic programs goes beyond merely staying fit, but athletics provides students with yet another reason to take pride in their university and what it means to be a Golden Bear.
“The great thing about our athletic teams on campus is their love for one common mission, supporting KU. Although we may see coaches and athletes having to pivot in a different direction, they will still be able to capture all of the joy that comes from being together this semester,” said President Hawkinson.
Keep an eye out for those student athletes around campus, as they reevaluate their goals for this season. One thing remains certain during this time of immense uncertainty—KU has upholding spirit as a high priority.