Eric Parks, Staff Writer
With a total of fifteen intercollegiate team sports on campus, the athletic department staff plays a vital role at Saint Martin’s. While we celebrate the success of our athletic teams, it is important to understand how the department operates and strives to succeed. The athletic staff consists of coaches, directors and others who are hired on to manage SMU athletics and help students reach their full potential in sports. Austin Byrnes is one of these individuals who works in the department as Sports Information Director.
Byrnes joined Saint Martin’s University in early 2017 after spending half a year at the College of Idaho in Caldwell. As the Sports Information Director for SMU, Byrnes has several different responsibilities. He operates the Saint Martin Saints website and social media profiles. He also works in statistics, announcing, and video production. Byrnes writes all athletic articles for the Saints website, including post-game, achievements and everything else. When Byrnes was a student at Carroll College, he worked in a similar role as a statistician and website developer. Saint Martin’s University does not have anyone else in the athletic department operating in a similar role, which makes his contribution to the department incredibly valuable.
The athletic department administration consists of Bob Grisham, the athletic director, Chris Gregor as Associate Athletic Director, Alice Loebsack as Assistant Athletic Director and Abbey Bergquist as Program Specialist. As Associate Athletic Director, Gregor also oversees internal operations which includes fundraising as well as coordinating game management for several different sports. Loebsack works in training, while Bergquist is the department’s financial manager. Bergquist also manages the department schedule and events. The group as a whole is responsible for fundraising, team management, budgeting and other administrative responsibilities.
Another important division of the athletic department is the training staff. Led by Loebsack, who is assisted by Matt Rausch, the training staff is focused on maintaining the health of student athletes as well as working toward improving their peak competitiveness. Loebsack’s profile states that “As an Assistant Athletic Director, she works with student-athletes in a variety of areas to enhance their understanding of diversity and gender issues. She helps to develop the student-athlete’s understanding of how they fit within the larger athletics, university and greater community.” Rausch is also employed as a trainer, having joined at the beginning of this academic year in 2017. In addition to his training duties, he is publishing research on the use of virtual reality to help aid balance assessment. Together, Loebsack and Rausch play a vital role in athletic safety and improvement.
The last subsection of the department (and by far the largest) is the coaching staff. Saint Martin’s employs forty coaches including eleven head coaches. While the specific requirements for each coach is different, they generally work one-on-one with their team to improve all aspects of player and team performance, including team chemistry, morale, skills development and team management. Head coaches also report to department and university administration regarding recruitment, equipment needs and team performance.
Saint Martin’s strives to staff each department with highly qualified professionals, and the athletic department is no different. Many coaches and staff have incredible qualifications and experience that help them ensure the success of their team and SMU athletics in general. Every member of the department, from administration to the coaching staff, fills a vital role that is necessary for the continuation of Saint Martin’s athletic excellency.