Penn College AD discusses 2019-20 season

Published 06.02.2020

Wildcat Weekly

In a question-and-answer format, John Vandevere, director of athletics at Pennsylvania College of Technology, shares his thoughts on the recently completed 2019-20 sports season.

Q: What is your assessment about the school year and athletic accomplishments before the March 12 spring sports cancellation announcement?
We were having a great year as teams were improving and student-athletes were having success in the classroom and in their respective sports. This past academic year, we were involved in the community and the college was able to make upgrades to facilities. I am excited to see our department continue to grow and achieve success.

In March, our thoughts on how our continued improvements and successes altered. Our spring sport teams had a great opportunity to make some noise in the North Eastern Athletic Conference and into the playoffs. Baseball and softball, in particular, came out of spring training with a lot of questions answered, and our coaches were looking forward to a very competitive season.

I am saddened that our spring sport athletes, especially our seniors, were not able to finish their careers on the field.  Our student-athletes have been a major part of the transformation of our athletics department, and I cannot thank them enough for everything they did to help grow the department. I wish we had a chance to say "Thank you" in person and hope one day we will be able to. We have wonderful senior student-athletes that we are going to miss dearly, and we wish them well in their continued success off the field.

Q: Do you view the cancellation as a setback for spring sports programs?
The cancellation of the season was a loss for our student-athletes and our college community, but I do not think it was a setback. This was an unprecedented time that affected every institution and their students. Our staff has taken this challenge as an opportunity to work on some significant projects to enhance our student-athletes’ lives, as well as give them the tools for success after their time here at Penn College.

Our student-athletes have found creative ways to get in their workouts and improve their skills. I am excited about the possibilities for us next year and competing for conference championships. This is adversity and how we respond determines the outcome. I believe our student-athletes have accepted this challenge.

Q: How has the cancellation affected recruiting?
Our coaches have done a great job in being active and creative on social media to stay in touch with their prospective recruits. We want to keep our prospective students, their families and our faculty/staff safe, so we were not able to have in-person contacts to showcase our beautiful campus and great majors. Our incredible faculty was unable to interact with our recruits to show them the labs and how their futures will look, but hope in the near future we are able to allow this interaction and schedule recruits to visit campus once it is safe to do so. Thankfully, our recession-proof majors, which lead to successful careers, make us very attractive to prospective students.

Q: How will the difficulties be overcome?
Life always gives you challenges you have to overcome and change the course of your plan. We are coming together, working harder for the whole campus and not just our student-athletes. We have the ability to show our students that, when there are challenges, you can still lead and alter your plan to achieve the same goals. Departments across the campus are helping each other to ensure our students, not just student-athletes, get answers to questions, and show prospective students this is a community they should be a part of. We are going to have some hard times and change is going to be inevitable, but here at Penn College, change is just part of our day.  We embrace change, and that is why this place is so special.

Q: What is your outlook for the college athletics heading into the fall and next athletic year?
I have hope that this fall, we will have continued success and improvements as we have each year. We will make changes to our operations to keep our student-athletes and staff safe. There will definitely be adjustments made to travel and scheduling to ensure their safety, but we will do our best to give our student-athletes the best experience possible. We have seen the importance of sports in our society during this time, and I am excited to get back at it!

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