Every game is different. The opposing team varies, the location differs, and the score is hardly ever the same. With all of these moving parts, it is nice to have a constant. At Springfield College that constant is Dr. Cathie Schweitzer, Director of Athletics. Schweitzer is hardly ever absent from a Pride home game. She is a fixture in the stands that radiates encouragement, support and a deep desire for her student-athletes to succeed.
Schweitzer was hired as the Springfield College Athletic Director on July 17, 2000, and after 15 years of trying to perfect Pride athletics, she has announced that this will be her final academic year and will step down from her position, effective June 30, 2015.
It may come surprising to most that Schweitzer did not delve into her studies with the intention of becoming an athletic director of a college. She received her first Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education from the University of Akron (OH), then mastered in physical education at Bowling Green State University (OH). Schweitzer later went on to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Iowa with a specialization in athletic administration.
“I did not set out to be an athletic director, in fact; I would rather say that it pursued me. Sports have always been a major part of my life and I wanted to stay involved in athletics (besides coaching) and make a difference in the lives of student-athletes. The rest is history.” Schweitzer explained.
Under Schweitzer’s leadership, Springfield College athletics have thrived. Several Pride programs achieved record breaking feats, including the three-straight NCAA Division III National Championships for the men’s volleyball team.
The 711 total student-athletes that comprise the athletics department recorded the highest single-semester cumulative grade point average that Springfield College has ever seen, 3.351.
“For Cathie, it has always been about the student-athlete and during her tenure the Athletic Department created the Pride Challenge. I think that set a tone of making sure our student-athletes understand the importance of the humanics philosophy,” said Vice President of the Department of Physical Education and Health Education, Kathy Mangano. “The Pride Challenge focuses on components of academics first, strong GPAs and the involvement with the community. Cathie has expanded resources for our student-athletes and really focuses on the whole person.”
The Pride’s on-field success has always, and continues to be impressive; however the shining stars on the field proved to be shining stars in the classroom as well. A total of 304-student-athletes earned a grade point average of 3.5 or above, but there were also 35 overachievers who posted a perfect 4.0 GPA.
“Our academic integrity is as good as it has ever been. The athletic [grade point average] is the highest this year. It is amazing how much work the kids put in and the time that’s spent,” said Professor of Physical Education and men’s basketball head coach, Charlie Brock. “I think it’s a credit to the services of Cathie and our athletics programs, [as well as] the coaches that are involved in the individual sports. She has been very, very involved in all of the service endeavors around the community.”
Despite her triumphs and successes, Schweitzer is one of the most receptive and personable people on the Springfield College campus. She is mindful and attentive in her position as Athletic Director.
“Dr. Schweitzer is very approachable; her door is always open to student-athletes, coaches and to members of her staff,” said Senior Associate Director of Athletics, Dr. Craig Poisson.
Springfield College’s celebration of 50 years of women’s athletics was a very significant anniversary. It was particularly monumental to have Schweitzer in the position of Springfield’s first female athletic director. Of course she was hired because of her overwhelming qualifications and successes; however it is still important to acknowledge her victories as a woman.
“Certainly being a female, it puts me in an exclusive group, but I have the same expectations of myself, I have the same expectations of my staff that I would regardless of gender,” Schweitzer explained. “My success provides validation for anyone who happens to be a female. I hope it gives young women the chance to see a person who is female shine in her profession. I find the responsibility of representing my gender very rewarding and very humbling.”
In addition to Springfield College’s excellence academically and athletically, the facilities have underwent massive transformations. The year 2007 started it all when the Irv Schmid Sports Complex (side-by-side turf fields) was designed and created, followed by the Field House and Stagg Field resurfacing in 2008. The Appleton Courts and Blake Track were redone in 2013.
“I think one of the things that stands out is during her tenure the college had tremendous growth in facilities,” said Mangano. “With the help of the entire college community, Cathie made sure that the coaches had input in regards to the facilities that we are very fortunate to have in athletics.”
But without a doubt her most lasting legacy is her devotion to Springfield College Athletics and all of the personnel involved in making all the moving parts of the Athletic Department run smoothly.
“Her focus was always on the student athlete and the student athlete experience; this guided administrative action,” said Poisson.
Cathie Schweitzer has been a blessing to Springfield College. She transformed, improved and enriched the athletics department, and impacted many people along the way. She is a woman of stature, and will forever leave her mark on our beloved college.
“It is certain that I am departing from a college that has never been stronger or better poised for additional growth and success. I shall watch with continued interest, the progress that will be made and the accolades and prestige that the institution will collectively achieve,” said Schweitzer. “I have been proud to have been your colleague.”