BELOIT—Dave DeGeorge is still waiting for a year as athletic director at Beloit College when he won’t have to deal with the fallout caused by COVID-19.
The 2021-22 academic year was his second on the job and it was impacted by the pandemic just like his first year.
“I keep wondering what this job would be like if COVID didn’t exist because it tends to dominate everything,” DeGeorge said. “I live on Zoom (in meetings) and I didn’t even know what it was before COVID.”
While as big a headache as COVID-19 has been to collegiate athletics, DeGeorge is proud of the way Beloit College has handled it.
“I don’t think there has been a safer place in Beloit or Rock County, for that matter,” DeGeorge said. “I think it really showed that masking worked. It’s uncomfortable for professors and students and coaches, but if you get your vaccines, boosters and wear your mask, it works. The number of cases we had on campus were shockingly low.”
Unlike the previous year, sports has marched on in the Midwest Conference with masked mandates and individual teams policing themselves.
For instance, Beloit’s women’s basketball team had seven games postponed to later dates by COVID outbreaks—but not originating with the Buccaneers.
“We were fortunate that when we had our stretch of COVID on the basketball teams it was during the longer Christmas break we had scheduled this year,” DeGeorge said. “That was the college’s decision to extend the break knowing kids would be around family around the holidays.”
Even with COVID, DeGeorge said there have been bright spots since he took over, with first on the list the opening of the Powerhouse as both a social and recreational facility. It offers an indoor training facility with batting and pitching cages, an indoor jogging track and competition swimming pool.
“The Powerhouse is sensational,” DeGeorge said. “It isn’t a massive gamechanger for all our teams, but when you’re talking about baseball, softball and swimming it is huge. But we also have football players over there throwing passes to each other and the lacrosse teams using it. When you think about the social places and the food opportunities, it’s great.”
DeGeorge said the Powerhouse has helped in recruiting both students and student-athletes to the college. He also points to a cooperative relationship with the college’s admissions department.
“What we have in place now and what they are doing is really fantastic from an athletic standpoint,” DeGeorge said. “We are partnered with them in ways that are shocking compared to some of the struggles we’ve had in the past. It’s better now than it has ever been. It’s not like we’re going to start competing for championships in every sport, but this is certainly encouraging for us moving forward.”
DeGeorge also believes Beloit has the right coaching staff in place.
“Their passion for coaching their sport and their passion to mentor their players is fantastic,” he said. “You couldn’t find a better group. We still do have some challenges in recruiting. We are not hitting on all cylinders yet, but we are working on it and getting better. Right now we are looking at all sorts of data to determine how our coaches can better build their recruiting pool. We’re looking at where we’ve been successful in the past and where there are similarities between the different sports recruiting.”