The Colonnade sat down with newly appointed GC Assistant Athletic Director, Al Weston, to discuss the state of the athletic department and the upcoming year in GC sports
Q: The athletic department has had a lot of coaching changes over the summer, how do you feel about the direction each program is heading?
Al: There’s kind of a common theme. A lot of folks who already had ties to the university are coming back to us. Some of them are people that have been groomed for their coaching gigs like Stephen Cary (new men’s XC Coach). I think that the transition will be pretty seamless for just about every program. For every spot, it seems like there was some other connection to the university there, like Jeremy Mayweather (new assistant women’s basketball coach) coming back to his alma mater to coach. They know a little bit about the program, some more than others, and know what it takes to be successful here at Georgia College.
Q: With fall sports starting soon, any newcomers people need to be looking out for?
Al: It’s kind of early to tell, but soccer had a scrimmage the other day and performed very well. I don’t want to single anybody out, but there are three new international players on the team, and I think all three were starters in the scrimmage and are going to play pretty big roles this year. There are some new players that are going to make immediate impacts on the soccer team, and you still have players like Ally Barys coming back for her fourth year.
Looking at volleyball, I believe we have three newcomers. There hasn’t really been a chance to evaluate them yet, so it will be interesting to see what happens when they really get going. Coach Krumdieck said that the team had a real strong spring. She was really happy with the way they played. Again, we’re working on year three of the program. We have a couple of seniors now and potential for leadership. I’m interested to see what Bailey Freeman can do as well. She’s a force in the middle, and it will be interesting to see what she can do with more expectations on her in her second year.
Q: From an athletic department standpoint, are y’all going to be doing anything different on gameday to get kids to come out more?
Al: My one big plan this year is to run a fan appreciation day for each of the sports programs. At the fan appreciation day I’m going to work with intramurals and we’re going to run a cornhole tournament at each one. We’re going to get Georgia College logo’d up cornhole sets. We’re going to give that set away to the winner of each tournament. We’re going to give one at soccer, at volleyball, at the basketball doubleheaders, baseball, softball, even tennis. I know we’ve got another year of working with the sports marketing class through professor Ronald Smith, and I’m going to be meeting with them next week to figure out what kind of goals and plans they have in place.
Q: IF you had to set a goal for yourself, what would it be?
Al: My goal is to get fannies in seats at athletic contests. That’s my main concern, because of the amount of effort that goes into being a Georgia College student athlete. It’s always better to do that in front of people than in front of an empty gym. We’ve got to find a way to get more people interested in what’s going on here. We have a tough basketball schedule this year. A lot of our games fall over the break, so we’ll have to do something creative and really pump up the games when we get back. I’m excited about working with the Thunder Crew again to figure out how we can drive those goals, get back to doing another bobcat madness and stuff like that. It’s a daunting task. It’s always been tricky to drive attendance at these athletic contests, for whatever reason. We just have a lot to compete with, I guess.
Bobcat fan rewards is back for another season, trying to get some bigger and better prizes to try and get people to come to multiple events. That’s my main goal, trying to figure out how to get more people to come to the games.
Q: As far as an overarching goal this athletic department has, for the coming year, what do you think it would be?
Al: The goal remains the same, to improve the lives of our student athletes, and to have them be positive members of society through athletics, academics and community influence. To form positive relationships and create positive members of society when we send them out of here with their Georgia College degrees. The athletic department graduates at a higher rate than the university in general. We have a higher GPA than the university in general. These are hardworking folks, they have to factor in practice time and travel time, and they’re still getting the job done at an elite level. Ally Barys on the soccer team, she’s from California, 4.0 gpa. And she’s a senior this year. Shanteona Keys just finished up, four years, 4.0. I can’t imagine how they pull that stuff off. It flabbergasts me. I was just a regular student and I didn’t have time to do all these things. And my GPA was nowhere close to what they’re pulling in. It sounds hokey and stupid, but I admire our student athletes. And I’m a 37-year-old man. I am impressed by what they can do on a day in and day out basis. We have that great balance of competition, going after regional titles in softball and peach belt tournament championships in baseball, and putting that high level 3.22 gpa out there, that’s the goal set. It always remains the same, to work on that path we’re going.