BY OLIVIA MARBLE ’21
The Mount Holyoke College Athletic Department has added new staff this semester, who have already started to implement changes.
Associate Director of Athletics for Communications, Jon Santer, will maintain the Mount Holyoke College Athletics website, run the social media accounts, produce season schedules and manage game day operations.
Santer intends to enhance athletic communications by using his video production background. He has already created post-game commentary videos for the website and hopes to create more highlight videos to promote the programs to prospective students.
Santer also plans to increase the Athletics Department’s social media presence. He said that he believes social media is a powerful tool which can help the Department with recruitment, retention and maintaining a connection with alums. He also hopes social media will help “bridge the gap” between athletes and non-athletes.
“It’s an awesome feeling when I see students that don’t really play sports or follow sports go to the games,” Santer said. “If we can create a winning and positive culture of our athletics department through social media, I think that starts to get the attention of other people on campus.”
Liz Hazen ’20, the vice chair of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), said that she is happy about the increased social media presence. “Social media posts are much more readily visible than the posts on the website,” Hazen said.
“It’s nice to know that someone is paying attention to what we’re up to, especially as an off-campus sport,” she said, referencing her own participation on the crew team.
Santer said that he understands the student-athlete involvement because he played lacrosse at Springfield College, which he described as an “unbelievable experience.”
“Being part of the men’s lacrosse team ... helped develop me as a person and as a professional,” he said. Santer decided to work in college athletics because of his own experiences with it.
“I’m a huge advocate for collegiate athletics and I’m a huge advocate of the positive changes it can make for student-athletes because that’s what I experienced myself,” Santer said.
Erica Lemm, Associate Director of Athletics for Programming, also understands the importance of the positive effects athletics have on student-athletes, and will work to enhance this through programming. Lemm will work closely with athletes by advising the SAAC, recruiting student-athletes and ensuring the Athletics program operates in accordance with the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) rules and regulations.
Currently, Lemm is developing new workshops for each class year as part of her new student-athlete development and leadership programming. They will be held during fall this year, excluding the sophomore workshop, which will be held in the spring.
First-year student-athletes will attend a workshop about health and well-being specifically tailored to the needs of student-athletes. DiSC, a team-building workshop that helps participants determine their behavioral styles and teaches them how to best work in teams, will be held for sophomores. Athletes in their junior year will attend a conflict management workshop and seniors will participate in a workshop on how to incorporate life lessons from student athletics into professional settings.
Lemm has nine years of experience working in collegiate athletics, and Mount Holyoke is the fifth institution she has worked for.
“I think that at this point in my career, a piece that is really valuable is just the experience that I’ve had ... to be able to now build something that’s truly going to be effective,” said Lemm.