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Newsmaker: Sherryta Freeman, Lafayette College director of athletics

Newsmaker: Sherryta Freeman, Lafayette College director of athletics
Sherryta Freeman, after administrative stops at her alma mater, Dartmouth College, Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, became director of athletics at Lafayette College in February.   (Morning Call file photo)

Sherryta Freeman, after administrative stops at her alma mater, Dartmouth College, Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, began her duties as the new director of athletics at Lafayette College in February. She is the subject of this week's Q&A. Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: How are things going?

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A: Let's just say it's been like going 100 miles an hour. There's a lot coming at me and a lot that needs to be done. But I've had a very positive experience for the last two months and have been getting acclimated to the Easton area, College Hill, the Lafayette campus, the people that work here, coaches, student-athletes and faculty. Everyone. We are engaging in a process to launch a five-year strategic plan at the end of the summer so a lot of that is based on gathering the data, analyzing what the current state of things are and hopefully roll out a plan that will make us much, much better in the future.

Q: Is the strategic plan the same as the outside study on the competitiveness of Lafayette's sports team.

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A: No, the study is just the first part of the process. The study provides the bench-marking data that we need to analyze where we are and then being able to talk to student-athletes, staff, coaches to understand what are the real issues and what are the strategies we can use to improve upon to be better and so the next phase of that study is how do we now use that information to change the trajectory of where we are going. And so, the study just gives us information, it doesn't give us direction; it doesn't tell us what we need to do. That's what my job is.

Q: There has been dissatisfaction among some alumni, including some major givers, about the performance of the sports teams. (The football team was 3-8 last season). How do you mend those fences?

A: By having an open conversation, being willing to engage with people who really aren't excited or happy about what has happened in the past. I have been saying to people that we need to respect the past, embrace the present and plan for the future. Part of that is being able to say, "Listen, we need to own what has happened here, own some of those poor relationships and start to mend them." And so, I'll talk to anyone including people who are not satisfied with their experience or their interaction, I want to hear from them and be able to say, okay, we have a plan to rectify some of those things. Some of those things, we may not, but for the most part, I think we've identified the areas that need the most work and I think people will be happy to hear what we have planned going forward.

Q: Has anything about the job disappointed or surprised you?

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A: Not at all, nothing has been disappointing. Inevitably, when you come into a new institution you need to learn the people, learn the procedures, need to learn the levels of staffing and what resources we have. I think, not that it was a surprise, but it's something we have to embrace and say we need to do a lot with a little. We plan to do that and we plan to do it well, We need to figure out ways to become more efficient and ways to improve upon the resources we have and increase our revenue and all those things we need to do in all athletic departments. We need to do that before we can start to make some of the positive changes we need to make

Q: You're a Dartmouth grad. Will we see Dartmouth on future schedules?

A: Football scheduling is done well in advance, but I would be thrilled to see Dartmouth on the schedule. They are aligned with the type of institutions we want to compete against for our nonconference schedule. So, definitely I would be happy to see that.

Retired sports columnist Paul Reinhard is a freelance writer.

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