By Grace Cabrey | Sports Writer
We have all heard President Towey’s infamous one-liner: “Notre Dame has about the same chance of winning the National Championship as our football team.” Well, the new Director of Athletics, Kimberly King, hopes to change that. King’s primary goal is to grow our athletic department. In the past, she has taken Division III programs to Division I. Don’t be so quick to rule out a National Championship for Ave at some point in the future! King brings with her over 20 years of experience. A graduate of the University of Richmond, and later Franciscan University of Steubenville, King has found her way home to Ave Maria, and is now proud to call herself a Gyrene.
Energized and eager to start, King says her initial goals for this school year are to “establish policies and procedures that provide a seamless experience for student-athletes to come and play the sport they love.” She hopes to also continue to work on having student-athletes integrate on campus, allowing them to fully engage in both athletics but also other interests. Not only does King encourage our athletes to push themselves to be the best students and athletes they can be, but also to push themselves in their spiritual life. King says, “I want to provide an opportunity for student athletes to hear the gospel and challenge them to grow in becoming well rounded men and women.” King also wishes to continue growing the University “brand,” drawing attention to the value of an Ave education.
When asked why she chose Ave, King stated, “[C]oming to Ave Maria was first and foremost about the mission, but I also enjoy the challenge of growing programs.” While we certainly have a lot of room for growth here at Ave, King said one thing in particular stood out to her. Not unsurprisingly, that was how hard every member of the staff worked, and how dedicated they were to the mission of Ave.
I am impressed by how hard everyone works and how committed the staff is to making sacrifices to advance the program forward.”
Such a reliable and dedicated staff certainly comes in handy when challenges arise. One of those challenges has been the athletic facilities. In fact, King says the facilities are currently her greatest challenge. “I didn’t know it rained this much anywhere, and until now, I thought that cold and snow were the greatest obstacles to practicing and competing…I didn’t take the concept of living in a swamp literally enough.”
While the facilities might pose a challenge for King, it comes with the promise of growth and expansion of the University. King views the challenge as an opportunity for “ingenuity and creativity.” As with any department, another critical aspect to the growth of the athletic program is funding. This year the athletics department has been given a budget of 1.8 million dollars. King says a large portion of this money will be going towards salaries, facilities, equipment, travel, etc. These, she says, are the basics and essentials of growing a program.
Though pleading the 5th as to which sport is her favorite, King acknowledged that what she enjoys most is watching her six children compete in games, and the games of athletes whom she has watched grow in their sport. King says:
It’s more fun to watch competitions of those whom you have watched when they are preparing and working hard to get to the competition; that is when you share in the emotion of the fruits of hard work and commitment.”
King promised a national championship for Ave Maria by the year 2019. (You heard it here first, folks!) We can dream but we can also work towards that promise. Go Gyrenes!
Cover and internal photo credit: Tom Greenfield/Ave Maria University