Doane Tigers Mission Transcends Athletics

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The mission of Doane Athletics is to develop student-athletes. We provide opportunities for student-athletes to strive to achieve their highest potential in the classroom, in competition, in the community, and in their character.

When Athletics Director Jill McCartney arrived at Doane in 2014, she assembled a team of coaches to work on this mission statement -- the ‘north star’ for the culture and climate that is lived every day by Doane athletes and coaches—a statement that also articulates precisely with the culture in academics.

“I’m a firm believer that a reason we have athletics in educational settings is that athletics is a vehicle for complementing what goes on in the classroom and other aspects of collegial life,” said McCartney, who oversees Doane’s 22 sports and many JV teams. McCartney describes her role as making sure all coaches are going in the right direction, have good relationships with faculty across campus, and understand that Athletics nurtures all students, not just student-athletes, by creating a positive culture.

McCartney points out that one of the great things about sports is that teams become like families. Coaches are engaged with young people who are finding their way in life. “It’s a fun time to be engaged with students. They are ambitious and forward-thinking and optimistic-- and coaches have a role in positive way,” said McCartney.  

Volleyball Coach Gwen Egbert, who just completed her fifth season at Doane, says there is a strong connection between the direction set in athletics and outcomes for students across campus. “Looking at all sports, the bottom line is, when you come to Doane we’re trying to give you the best experience so you go out and ‘kill it’ in the real world. It’s those little things that you do that give you that edge. We work on that so students can go out and compete well, and we make it fun,” Egbert said.

Under Egbert’s direction, the volleyball team reads one book a year that promotes the right elements for success in athletics as well as in life. Last fall’s book, “Mind Gym,” helped players focus on mental abilities to set goals, overcome obstacles, build confidence and see themselves as capable of working to achieve new levels of performance.

Track Coach Ed Fye agrees that everything students do inside of an athletics team teaches skills for success. The discipline of time management required of student-athletes carries over into academic life, and life beyond college. Just as athletes access good coaching to grow in their sport, students are ‘coached’ to seek academic support to overcome obstacles to being the best student possible. Fye noted a culture of support at Doane, starting with the administration, extending throughout all aspects of campus. “We believe in your goals, and we do it together,” said Fye.

Track and field has grown from 70 students in 2002 to 150 today. The challenge of creating a close culture among that many students led to new opportunities for team members to bond—movie nights, bowling and spaghetti feeds, as examples. It’s the relationship building that is at the heart of the Doane culture, and after college, that pays off with lasting friendships and often, links to jobs, according to Fye.

At Doane, a large percentage of students are in at least one activity, whether it’s a sport or theater or another club. It’s a small community and students develop friendships beyond special interest groups. When athletes get ready to compete, those friends from dorms and classrooms and clubs come together to support their fellow students, Fye explained.

For Fye, it’s all about relationships. Fye noted that recruiting is helped by Doane’s reputation that Doane people take care of Doane people. “Students leave here with tremendous experiences and a sense of traditions,” said Fye.  And alumni who become parents often come back to Doane, wanting their kids to have the same experience.

For McCartney, the Doane Tiger stands for setting a path forward for student-athletes that will serve them for life.

“What we do here at Doane really ‘gets it right.’ I feel proud about what we have here at Doane,” said McCartney.