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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Wins and losses

Jill Bodensteiner, J.D. pictured with the Hawk mascot (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

Bodensteiner to provide enhanced resources for players

When Jill Bodensteiner, J.D., St. Joe’s first new director of athletics in 30 years, arrived on campus in early June, she brought with her what any new athletic director does: potential.

Bodensteiner came to St. Joe’s from University of Notre Dame, where for the last five years she served as senior associate athletic director. Under her tenure, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team won the 2018 NCAA Championship.

For many coaches, athletes and fans, the potential to improve a university’s win/loss record is at the top of the list of possibilities for a new athletic director. Bodensteiner said many factors go into that.

“Wins and losses, in general, are impacted by culture, people and resources,” Bodensteiner said. “There has to be a culture that has expectations and accountability. There have to be the right people.”

Bodensteiner said the biggest influence she has is on resources.

“I can have some impact on culture, certainly a bit on people and then resources is where I can have probably my most primary direct impact,” Bodensteiner said.

That reflects what Joe Lunardi, director of Marketing and Broadcast Services, has seen in his years of experience in university athletics. 

“An AD these days is as much as a fundraiser and cheerleader, not like a pom- pom cheerleader but like a ‘rah-rah let’s get everybody on board’ cheerleader,” Lunardi said. “Athletic directors engage alumni, sell tickets, win games, sell merchandise.”

Lunardi said ultimately, successfully marketing a program is more important than the win/loss record.

“Can an athletic director impact wins and losses?” Lunardi asked. “1,000 percent, yes. But the wins aren’t what you think and neither are the losses because winning implies the score of the game. The job, and the importance in marketing your institution, is so much bigger than that.”

One of Bodensteiner’s priorities in terms of allocating resources within the St. Joe’s program is to focus on nutrition for athletes. Right now, the athletic department does not have a full-time nutritionist on staff, Bodensteiner would like to add one.

“I’m a big believer in sleep and what you put into your body,” Bodensteiner said. “These are two of the most important things we can control, for all students, frankly. There’s not a lot we can do to impact sleep other than educate, but I really do think we can impact how they fuel their bodies. Part of that’s education and part of it is having food available. So I would love to build a nutrition program.”

Bodensteiner also said working with the coaching staff is an important aspect of her job.

“My role is to share my philosophies and support the coaches,” Bodensteiner said.

Part of the the culture of “expectations and accountability” that Bodensteiner said she can influence is helping coaches in “understanding their role, embracing their role, being good leaders, establishing goals, and developing players.”

“We’re not going to get all the top-ranked athletes in the country,” Bodensteiner said, “so we have to be really good at player development.”

Women’s Soccer Coach Jess Mannella said Bodensteiner’s philosophies—and her potential to influence—are exactly why St. Joe’s hired her.

“The president hired our athletic director knowing that she wants to take our programs to the next level,” Mannella said.

For Mannella, too, it comes down to resources.

“The way she’s structuring everything, what she wants and what she says to us for the sports and bringing in new revenue and generating new revenue, will definitely impact us,” Mannella said. “She has a lot of experience of generating revenue that will definitely help us get more things.”

Katie Shields, associate vice president for athletic development, reflects the excitement in the athletic department about what lies ahead.

“Anything is possible over time, and everyone brings their own style,” Shields said. “There is always that commitment to excellence.”

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