Changes aplenty in sports dept.

The changes over the last few months at Glenbrook Gymnasium have not been limited to its structure and layout. The sports administration department has experienced significant faculty changes as well, with the addition of professors Matt Soroka and Kristen Murray. Soroka and Murray replace Craig Paiement and Ryan Hedstrom, who each departed for different positions over the summer.

Paiement and Hedstrom came to Castleton in 2005-06 and 2006-07, respectively, looking to further develop the sports administration department. The new sports administration program, which went into affect the 2007-08 school year, included a new structure of curriculum and focused on fieldwork and internships while moving away from a science-based program. They also implemented new goals for the program to compete with top regional sports administration departments, but more importantly they raised expectations of the students.

“We don’t want to change too much,” Soroka said. “These guys have done a great job.”

Soroka visited the campus last spring while he was interviewing for the position Paiement was vacating. He said he was impressed with the expectations of the students and the way they handled themselves. Soroka had been at the University of Minnesota finishing his doctorate degree prior to joining the Castleton faculty. He also mentioned his interest in the overall social environment of the campus, which happens to be his area of study, as an important reason why he came to Castleton.

“The interaction of administration and students doesn’t happen anywhere else,” he said.

But to make matters more complicated within the department, Ryan Hedstrom, who was to be the new head of the program, left the department in July. Soroka said he had heard that Hedstrom may leave during the interview process. Nevertheless, he said he had been looking forward to working with Hedstrom and he said once he learned he was leaving it posed a bigger challenge to get to know the students at the same time as learning his way around the program.

Connie Wolfe, a senior and vice president of the Sports Administration Club, concurred with Soroka that this next semester or two will be a difficult time for the sports administration faculty and students.

“There was a relationship and trust between them (Paiement and Hedstrom) and all of us. I was surprised when Ryan left because this is my last and most important semester and it was like all that comfort was gone. I was definitely upset,” Wolfe said.

Murray was brought on in July when she heard of the opening directly from Hedstrom. Murray comes from the Michigan State doctorate program, the same program that Hedstrom and Paiement had come from. She said that because she was close to and essentially mentored by Paiement and Hedstrom, she knew of the program the two were developing here and that made her transition easier.

“My first question was ‘How do we fill that position (that Hedstrom had left)?’ But we were so fortunate to get her. She’s the perfect fit,” Soroka said of Murray.

Both Soroka and Murray said that there will be more focus in coming weeks and months on the relationship between the sports administration major and the surrounding community. Murray said she wants to get involved with area schools to focus on the development of youth athletics as well as train coaches properly to manage the youth leagues.

Soroka, who volunteers at the Rutland Creative Economy for Recreation, said he would like for the sports administration department and its students to be the top choice of those hosting instate athletic events g for assistance, especially in Rutland and the state’s top-notch ski resorts.

“We have a wealth of knowledge and information here with the students and we need to utilize it,” he said.

Murray agrees.

“I see us as a good fit because of our ideals and philosophies,” Murray said of the association between Soroka and herself.

And despite a little uncertainty and sadness over the departure pf Paiement and Hedstrom, students are embracing their new professors.

“I feel good about the program and where it is,” Wolfe said. “I transferred back because of what Ryan and Craig had built. Matt and Kristen are both good fits and they seem to be in tune of what Ryan and Craig had intended as well as what students want and expect. I think the program and all the majors are in good shape.

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