First-year master of arts in business with a specialization in intercollegiate athletic administration (MAIAA) student Ryan Christy took five fellow students to visit his alma mater, Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, on December 6. The two-year MAIAA program prepares graduates for careers in athletics so the visit centered around meeting Northwestern Athletic Director Earl Woudstra. A four-time national NAIA Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year, Wousdstra became the athletic director after retiring from coaching in 2011.
“From my experience as a graduate student, the opportunity to see first-hand what happens at a site helps bring to life what is read about or discussed in a class or seminar,” said Woudstra. “I have been a college professor, coach and administrator for over 35 years and I continue to enjoy seeing students enthusiastic about sports and how athletic involvement can be a part of the education experience for student-athletes. A successful athletic program can positively impact an entire campus.”
Woudstra then provided a tour of the new $3.1 million Juffer Athletic Fieldhouse. Completed in 2015, the indoor complex included a 3,600-square-foot golf practice room, a weight room for student-athletes and a 20,000-square-foot indoor practice space utilized by the baseball, softball, soccer and football teams.
“As people aspiring to work in collegiate athletics, it’s important to visit and learn about the athletic departments across all divisions and formats,” said Sullivan Bortner, an MAIAA student from Palmyra, Pennsylvania who made the trip. “It was interesting to observe Northwestern’s culture and the athletic department was impressive in terms of facilities, ability to fundraise and game day environment.”
The trip concluded with the group attending “Rivalry Night” as Northwestern hosted fellow Great Plains Athletic Conference member Dordt College in a men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader. Packed to the brim, the atmosphere in the 2,200-seat Bultman Center was palpable. Both the men's and women's basketball games concluded with thrilling comeback victories by Northwestern.
Woudstra said, “It was a pleasure to meet and share with the students from the Nebraska MAIAA program. I enjoyed the opportunity to showcase our facilities and provide some insights from the perspective of the NAIA, the GPAC and Northwestern as a private Christian liberal arts college.”