Kalamazoo College coaches teach and mentor "K" student athletes, a group that includes 25 percent of the entire student population. Ideally, each coach would be a full-time employee, a significant factor not only on the coach-athlete relationship, but also on a team's success. Unfortunately, budget constraints have limited full-time coaches to seven of the16 teams the College fields.
Slowly, that situation is beginning to change because of the philanthropy of graduates and friends. Today, eight teams have full-time coaches, in part because of a generous donation.
The Tish Loveless Women's Athletics Endowment was established during the spring of 2008, and though it is not yet fully funded, it has helped make possible a full-time position for a women's tennis coach. The interest earned from the endowment helps fund the new position and releases operating dollars for other College expenses. As a result, Sarah Johnston, the team's part-time coach in 2007, becomes full-time this month. In addition to her coaching duties, she will teach physical education classes for all students and take on administrative duties.
"The Tish Loveless Endowment provides wonderful opportunities for current and future women athletes at Kalamazoo College," Johnston said. "It will help me provide continuity for a tennis program that has had four different coaches in the last four years. Accessibility to the team and the ability to recruit prospective students all year are significantly improved with full-time coaching positions."
Student athletes wholeheartedly agree!
"In the past it has been much more difficult in the off-season for the team to stay in touch with the coach and to benefit from that mentoring relationship," said senior Lindsay Zuhlke, a member of the tennis team. "During the season, most of the part-time coaches have other jobs that make a close connection more difficult. Also, we have had trouble retaining coaches because a low-paying, part-time job isn't very appealing.
"Having Coach Johnston around full time will be incredibly helpful for our team," Zuhlke added. "It allows her to spend more time meeting with
"The Loveless Endowment is an investment in excellent educational experiences."recruits and make an even stronger connection with the students on campus."
The addition of a full-time coach for women's tennis is a positive step but there's much to be done. Coaching positions remain part-time for eight teams--more work for the power of endowment, which depends on the gifts of alumni and friends.
"Students' experiences in intercollegiate athletics should mirror their experiences in academics, study abroad, and service learning," said Kristen Smith, director of athletics. "The dynamic interaction, free flow of ideas, and mentoring that mark students' interactions with faculty should also characterize the relationship between a coach and student athlete. After all, athletics is an extension of the classroom. In that sense, the Loveless Endowment is an investment in excellent educational experiences. Those experiences will be maximized with the presence of more full-time coaches on staff."
Persons interested in making a gift to the Tish Loveless Women's Athletics Endowment can click here.