From coaches to administrative staff, Saint Peter’s athletic department has been making some changes within the Yanitelli Center -- even during the summer.
“I think there is a lot of opportunity in this building, and I also think there’s lots of opportunity in the field themselves…,” said Cameron Harty, one of the new athletic staff members. “Bryan Felt has had a great vision and has got this on a good track, and I’m here to help to advance in that area.”
Bryan Felt, Saint Peter’s athletic director, added on three new administrators to the athletic department staff in June. The new Peacock staff recruits include Harty, Rachel Dortch and Jonathan Santana -- all of whom are taking on different roles.
Harty was previously with the Seton Hall Pirates as athletic assistant director for facilities after serving as a facilities and operations assistant. He was with the Division I college from 2015 until this summer.
Harty noted that it wasn’t just the “great opportunity” to advance his career that brought him to Jersey City, but also what he saw on campus.
“I love the fact that it’s a close-knit community -- I’m a big fan of that… I like the culture,” he said. “It’s one that embodies family -- everybody knows who everybody else is. You’re in classes with the athletes … everybody’s together. That whole sense of ‘togetherness’ is real key for an institution.”
The new associate director also told The Pauw Wow that athletics have already moved the varsity weight room -- which was originally in Rankin Hall near Westside Avenue -- back to the Yanitelli Center and is now right by the locker rooms. He also mentioned that the department is working on putting up scoreboards for the soccer, softball and baseball fields as well as redoing some locker-room spaces.
But Harty isn’t the only one who has some plans for SPU.
“As a group, for all student-athletes,” said Dortch, coordinator for student-athlete development and leadership. “One goal is wherever you’ve entered in the fall, I want you to be a different person in the spring when you leave.”
Dortch landed her spot in the Recreational Life Center after interning with the athletics’ compliance office over the summer of 2017. Previously, she worked as a resident hall director at the State University of New York Maritime and also has experience as graduate assistant for the Hofstra women’s basketball team.
As coordinator for student-athlete development and leadership, Dortch feels as if her and her job “mesh” well together because she too was a student-athlete. The 24-year-old played four years of varsity women’s basketball for Pace University.
Dorcht shared that she is currently working on the “Pride Program,” which will focus on the career, leadership and personal development on SPU’s student-athletes, along with community service and social responsibility. The program will incorporate speakers and different types of events catered to the entire student body.
Among her many goals, she wants the senior student-athletes to apply to at least one or two jobs before graduation to go through the application and interviewing process for a job outside of the university.
“I’m all about personal growth and I feel like through life you should strive to be the best version of yourself,” she said. “And I think that starts, kinda, in college because college is a weird time. I’m really here to help people navigate through that time where they can learn their lessons because not everyone’s going to be perfect.”
If there’s one thing that’s going to be perfect, it’s the equipment, and Jonathan Santana, equipment operations manager, will make sure of it.
Santana, 23, was tapped into his role after completing equipment operations internships for Seton Hall and the University of Kentucky.
“I finally got the opportunity here to become the equipment operations manager,” he said. “So I get to oversee all of the equipment, manage it, and change things around into the way I want it to be.”
Santana plans on making sure that everything -- equipment wise --is up and running for all athletic teams and will provide the school with an equipment handbook to make sure everything is being properly cared for -- and this is something he takes pride in.
“A lot of people don’t see and admire the behind-the-scenes of games,” he said. “They don’t know what it takes to set up for a game and I appreciate those little things.”
The Bronx native graduated from SUNY Brockport with a degree in sports management and coaching. He later went on to receive his master’s in education and athletic administration and also had the experience of assistant coach for SUNY’s women’s basketball team for two years.
Meanwhile, Harty, of New York, earned his degree in sports management from Misericordia University and his master’s in organizational management. Dorcht, of Columbus, graduated from Pace University with a degree in adolescent education and history, and went on to Hofstra to earn her master’s in higher education and leadership.