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Publish date: Jul 15, 2011

DII kicks off new mentoring program

By David Pickle

An important initiative to develop the next generation of Division II athletics directors began in earnest this week.

A group of 20 mentors and mentees (10 of each) from the new Division II/DII Athletic Directors Association Mentor Program gathered at the NCAA national office to begin a year-long program designed to put promising minority and women athletics administrators on track for careers as Division II athletics directors.

“This is a great opportunity to build relationships with experienced professionals,” said Brandi Laurita, senior woman administrator at Findlay and one of the mentees. “They can help me get to where I want to be.”

Laurita is paired with mentor Greg Bamberger, Kutztown athletics director, who said he also values the experience. “It’s great to be able to share your knowledge and experience like this,” he said. “This is something that happened for me in the past, so I’m happy I can give something back to the profession.”

The program Tuesday included a set of roundtable discussions, a review of web-based resources and a presentation from NCAA Executive Vice President Bernard Franklin. The mentors and mentees also heard from a panel of experts about becoming athletics directors.

New Haven Athletics Director Debbie Chin, one of the panelists, encouraged the mentees to read as much as possible.

“Know as much as you can about many things and get yourself informed,” she said.

She also encouraged the mentees to be aware of how they build their management styles.

“Know it, develop it and feel comfortable with it,” Chin said. “Don’t adopt someone else’s style.”

Cal State Chico Athletics Director Anita Barker told the group that while a life-work balance is important, that balance can mean different things for different people.

“I firmly believe that my work is a lifestyle commitment, and I’m OK with that,” she said. Though that may mean working long and odd hours and enduring difficult moments in the public spotlight, she said she gains satisfaction from concurrently managing her career and being a mother.

Indianapolis AD Sue Willey encouraged the mentees to get comfortable with addressing conflict constructively.

“I’ve seen administrators who just don’t deal with it,” Willey said. “But up front, you should try to be specific about expectations, even with something like language. This is higher education, and if you can’t communicate in a better way than using foul language, then you need to find another line of work.”

In short, the day was filled with insights and networking opportunities.

The mentors and mentees were encouraged to check in with one another twice a month and, if geography and finances allow, to meet face-to-face on campus. The entire group will be able to participate in once-a-month webinars (except for December). Attendance at January’s NCAA Convention in Indianapolis is encouraged, and the program will wind up next June at the annual convention of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics in Dallas.


2011-12 mentor-mentee pairings

Mentee                                                    Mentor

Laura Clayton, West Georgia                   Sue Willey, Indianapolis

Linda Cimino, Caldwell                            Fran Reidy, Saint Leo

Debbie DeJong, Dowling                          Dennis Helsel, Chowan

Shantey Hill, C.W. Post                            Denisha Hendricks Kentucky St.

Kristene Kelly, Saint Augustine’s College  Larry Marfise, Tampa

Brandi Laurita, Findlay                             Greg Bamberger, Kutztown

Meredith Long, Chowan                          Tom Shirley, Philadelphia U.

Kimberly Miller, Shaw                             Scott Weigandt, Bellarmine

Sandee Mott, Metro State                       Jared Mosley, Abilene Christian

Tracee Passeggi, Cal Poly Pomona          Joan McDermott, Metro State