By: Dawson Wittman
Athletics are one of the many things that make Missouri Western a special place. Whether it is dirt, turf, a gym floor, etc., as long as your team is winning—fans and supporters will be happy. As you may have seen, every Missouri Western team over the last three seasons, in a situation where they have finished in the MIAA conference–not every athletic department is necessarily “winning.”
There are many factors that go into sustaining a winning culture in an athletic program. It all starts at the top— the head coach. If you don’t have a head coach who has a system that wins, it won’t last. Missouri Western is in a time in which several sports have newly hired head coaches.
Missouri Western football, cross-country, track and men’s and women’s basketball, all have newly acquired coaches. Football is coached by Matt Williamson, whose first season as a Griffon came in 2017. Cross-country and track have only had one season (2018) since becoming an official school sport. Men’s basketball just finished their first season with new coach Sundance Wicks, while the women’s team just said goodbye to tenured coach Rob Edmisson and say hello to former Texas Tech coach, Candi Whitaker.
Missouri Western Athletic Director Josh Looney says, “The goal of every program is to have success, but to then sustain that success.” Although there are several new coaches on the block, Missouri Western still has a coach who knows a thing or two about success– softball coach Jen Bagley-Trotter.
It takes a lot to sustain success. The biggest tool to success is recruiting the right players to fit your program and your style of play. Although her team was down a little last year, the softball program has bounced back in a big way in 2019. Bagley-Trotter broke the record for most career wins in MIAA history (615) and is on her way to another winning season. Her softball team just went on a 12-game winning streak. During the streak it has been a good balance of pitching and hitting. During the 12 games, the Griffons have hit eight home runs and are hitting .336 as a team with a plus-64 run differential.
Although I am a soon to be Missouri Western alum, I am still going to be honest when it comes to their athletic success. If they are good, I’ll say they are good, but if they suck, then I’ll tell you they suck. With the amount of new coaches on campus in St. Joseph, it should be interesting to see how each team finishes in the MIAA in the seasons to come. Can these head coaches recruit well enough to have success? If so, will they be able to sustain it? I say we will be able to have a better answer to that in three years.