BY: GRIFFIN NELSON, firstname.lastname@example.org
The thrill of victory is born from the agony of defeat.
MSUM Athletic Director Doug Peters is well-acquainted with this concept.
2018-19 was a year of surprise and intrigue for Dragons athletics.
MSUM football put together their best season in more than two decades, earning a postseason bid and national recognition for Head Coach Steve Laqua.
Jordan Magnuson came out of nowhere to qualify for nationals at the wrestling regionals inside Nemzek Fieldhouse.
The well-oiled machine that is women’s basketball, led by Karla Nelson, produced another Northern Sun regular season championship. It was their third season in a row with at least a share of first place, and with only one departing senior and incoming transfer Sarah Jacobsen, there’s no reason to believe they can’t extend
Individual standout performances from athletes like Chris Cook, Emily Waletzko, Summer Storm and Josh Young highlighted a successful year of track and field. Amanda Westereng was able to get over last year’s hump and qualify for nationals in diving under new swimming head coach Charles King.
Disappointing results clouded a year of improvement for youthful teams like soccer, golf, volleyball, and wrestling.
With two new head coaches at the helm (softball, swim and dive), a sense of curiosity also enveloped the 2018-19 campaign.
“I came into the year optimistic,” Peters said. “There were a lot of unknowns, and you don’t want to have too many expectations when it comes to performance.”
Peters spent nine and a half years at NSIC-rival Bemidji State, first as a basketball player then as an employee, before accepting the position as Athletic Director at MSUM. He believes in striking a balance when it comes to defining a successful year for an athletic department.
“It starts with the academic success of our student athletes, the experiences they have,” Peters said. “How have our athletes grown? How have our coaches grown? How have we competed? It’s all blended together.”
Peters is determined to take a hands-on approach when building relationships with coaches. He has met twice a month with the swim coach King and new softball head coach Amanda Reckamp.
“It’s all about being transparent, letting people know why you are doing things. You also have to be available and establish a line of communication. I want to know what’s going on, always.”
After a successful turn hosting a NCAA Wrestling Regionals tournament, the school has placed multiple bids for similar future events, hoping to bring more exposure and clout to MSUM athletics. Along with trying to acquire the rights to host another wrestling regional in 2021, Peters and his department worked in collaboration with the Fargo-Moorhead Athletics Commission in an attempt to secure the 2020 NCAA Women’s Tennis Regionals.
While working to gain notoriety across the Midwest, Peters is grappling with capturing the attention of MSUM students.
“I think that’s a question getting asked across the country,” Peters said when asked how he goes about connecting with the student body.
“What we try to do is create an in-game atmosphere that makes the event worthwhile besides the on-field product.”
Peters has worked to morph his outreach in a time where consumption of sports is in major flux.
“We are always looking at what professional leagues are doing, from an attendance standpoint, to keep people interested,” Peters said.
Heading out of the spring semester and into the sneaky rigors of June and July, the job never slows for Peters.
“You think of summer as the planning stage,” Peters said. “When athletes show up in late August, everything is going to happen. There’s limited time to plan for it all.”
When contemplating the future of Dragon athletics, Peters believes the door is open for exceptional improvement.
“I hope that the experience we’re providing our student athletes has evolved,” Peters said. “I hope that we mature in some of the services we provide our athletes.”
Peters also mentioned the possibility of facility improvements in the future.
And for everyone wondering, no, there is no movement in regards to NCAA hockey at MSUM.
“It’s something I’ll always be monitoring,” Peters said. “But for now, all is quiet on that front.”