By Jeff Nations - email@example.com
Doug Zipp is enjoying his whirlwind experience in Winchester this week.
Zipp, the incoming new Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at Shenandoah University, has spent most of this week getting familiar with the town, his new job, the coaching staff and support personnel he's soon to inherit, and making contact with people around the community.
So far, Zipp has been more than reassured about leaving his position as Associate Director of Athletics for Facilities and Operations at Kenyon (Ohio) College to take on the job at Shenandoah.
"What really attracted me to Shenandoah was the people," Zipp said. "The students I've met are very energized and enthusiastic about athletics, and that brought my excitement level up a lot."
Zipp, who officially begins as the school's new AD on July 16, replaces the retiring Wayne Edwards. Brian Wigley, the department's Faculty Athletics Representative and chair of the Kinesiology Department, will serve in the interim when Edwards leaves at the end of the month.
Zipp's arrival comes at a critical time for Shenandoah's athletics department, which makes the move to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) in the fall after years of membership in the USA South Conference.
"I think moving into one of the oldest and best athletic conferences in the country will really be great for Shenandoah," Zipp said. "I really think it's going to help to push it to the next level."
That largely describes Zipp's duties, as well -- to be the driving force to help push Shenandoah's athletics programs to new levels of success.
The move to the ODAC won't necessarily be seamless, and Zipp thinks the school could have "our eyes opened a little bit" at times facing what looks to be a higher level of competition across all sports.
"We want to bring all our programs up to the level to be competitive across the board," Zipp said. "When Shenandoah shows up on their schedule, I want people to feel afraid."
Much of Zipp's work at Kenyon dealt with facilities management, including the day-to-day operation of the 263,000 square foot Kenyon Center. The work of evaluating Shenandoah's facilities has just begun, and Zipp plans to take his time in determining just where the school is in that regard in relation to its new conference rivals.
"Everybody gets excited when you start talking about new facilities," Zipp said. "I think you need to step back a little bit and say, 'What are our needs here?' We have to focus on what we really need."
Building on relationships within the community and generating increased excitement in Shenandoah's athletics programs is also a priority for Zipp. Much of selling that product will rest with the school's student-athletes and their accomplishments both on and off the playing fields.
"More community support would be fantastic," Zipp said. "Much of that falls on my shoulders, and I'm going to be out there meeting people, bringing coaches and players with me."