Mike Cassidy gets in-depth on intercollegiate athletics
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 18:10
Roosevelt University’s director of intercollegiate athletics, Mike Cassidy, began building Roosevelt’s current athletic program four years ago. The athletic department was nonexistent in 2009, but by 2010 the department had five athletic programs consisting of 80 student athletes competing in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Two years later the program has grown larger.
Currently, there are 12 programs with more than 180 student Laker athletes sporting the Roosevelt mascot, the green and white Lakers. All of the new and returning programs have begun competing or training for the seasons to follow. According to Cassidy, the Laker’s athletic department has hit its baseline goals but has much more in store.
Q: What is the current state of the Athletic Department?
A: If you would have told me three and a half years ago, that we’d be where we’re at right now, I really probably wouldn’t have believed it. I really think we are kind of ahead of schedule. In terms of how quickly our teams have developed into really competitive programs.
I look at things from a macro level perspective. We’ve achieved some of the benchmarks that we’ve wanted to achieve. We’ve met our enrollment numbers . . . the number of student athletes we want on our squads. We’ve met our . . . baseline academic metrics by now having a student athlete community with above a 3.0 GPA. . . . Do I think, you know, a 3.0 is great? Absolutely, for our team GPAs. Do I think we can do better? Absolutely, but now the key is, how do we do what we’re doing now with the largest community of student athletes that we’ve ever had?
Q: What are athletic department goals for this school year?
A: I really want to build us into what gets looked upon by our peers as a benchmark program. I want to be the program that . . . athletic departments are trying to figure out how to solve problems – I want to be the person they call because they know “Roosevelt does it the best.”
The best feedback I’ve gotten from our peer institutions is, “You don’t look like a first year program” or “You don’t look like a second year program. You guys really do things well.” And that reflects on the way we recruit student athletes, the way our teams represent themselves on the field of play, and the way we treat our visitors when they come to our home events – that it’s well run, well organized. Again, that’s my biggest goal is to really have a kind of a benchmark program that others look to as “Wow, they, they do it well.”
Q: Tell us some of your program highlights from last year to this year.
A: Its been a constant stream of successes, I’ll say... If you had to, you know, put a starting point down – for me it was the first cross country meet we had. It was three years ago now, the Elmhurst invitational. It was the first time I got to see – okay that was a year and a half plus of work that led up to that first event. We’re okay now we’re, you know – bad cliché with cross country, but “we were off and running.”
Q: What new programs were added this year?
A: This year we added men’s soccer, women’s soccer, women’s softball, and men’s golf. Like I said, they invited both numbers to our, you know, student athlete population. But, I think again, a unique group of individuals who were much like that first class that we brought in, “real pioneers.”
Q: The Lillian and Larry Goodman Center is scheduled to open on Dec. 1, how will this affect the athletic department?
A: On the intercollegiate athletic side, it’s going to give us, finally, a home. And it’s going to provide our athletes with the opportunity to sharpen their skills. I tell them all the time... during the recruiting process, I’m going to give them the “tools they need to be successful” both academically and athletically. I’ve really been able to live up to the academic part because we’ve been an academic institution here for quite some time. On the athletic part, I think I’ve only been able to give them 80 percent – maybe 85 percent... We also haven’t had a kind of a community center where all of the athletes felt like they could come together as one.”
Q: What is the goal for intramurals?
A: The goal for intramurals really is to, again, find a way to make every student feel like they can be a Roosevelt Laker. And that’s just another platform for which we can accomplish that. I often tell people it starts at the bottom – be a Roosevelt Laker, just be a fan. Then we have, you know, go over to the Barry Crown Fitness Center if you just want to get a workout in. You know, “get your sweat on,” you’re a Roosevelt Laker. The next step would be, kind of intramurals and recreation. You know it’s very low level of commitment. You know, we’re organizing outdoor events right now, until the Goodman Center opens... flag football, ultimate frisbee, softball in the park. Again, ways of just bringing our Roosevelt community together through athletics. And then, you know, hopefully that bleeds out into people wanting to become – “I really like this intramural thing, but I’d like something a little more competitive,” – maybe we need to go club sports.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: Again, that I’m really pleased with where we’re at as a program. And that I can’t, you know, speak highly enough about our coaching staff, what they’ve done here. And the support I’ve gotten from our administration. The support from President Middleton, the support from our, you know, vice president for enrollment management and student services, Dr. Sally McKee. I couldn’t get this done without, you know, two very strong leaders going to bat for me on a daily basis.
Listen to Cassidy’s interview in its entirety at the Torch online and tweet us your thoughts @RUTORCH