Hawaii Tribune-Herald Sunday, March 19, 2017 15 UNIVERSITY TOWN Scoring in community service, academics Aloha! I am pleased to be able to once again write to you now during my second year on the job as your athletics director at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Last time, I spoke about our rich history of Vulcans Athletics and the impact our program makes on the lives of our students and in our community. Today, as I write this article (March 2), all of our teams and nearly 100 of our student-athletes participated in the Dr. Seuss Read Across America Day. We visited seven elementary schools, read Dr. Seuss books to more than 2,000 keiki and shared with them the importance of reading, listening to their teachers and doing well in school. This event and numerous others during the past year is one way in which Vulcans Athletics is able to help enrich our community while at the same time providing important leadership and development opportunities for our student-athletes. Because of the commitment of our coaches, student-athletes and staff, Vulcan Athletics was honored by the PacWest Conference with a community service and civic engagement award earlier this year. This is the first time a Hawaii school has received this prestigious award, and I am so proud of our program for going above and beyond in earning it. We will always strive our very best to pursue and achieve athletic excellence. Overall, this has eluded us with a few exceptions in recent years. However, I am confident that we are moving in the right direction. We are beginning to add resources for our programs and with that will come increased expectations. Our coaches are dedicated to building not just a team, but also a program that our community can be proud of. I am committed to continue to provide the necessary resources to ensure that this continues. Speaking of new resources, we added to our team one of the best NCAA Division II volleyball coaches in the country in Gene Krieger. He has a long successful history of building championship cultures and programs and has earned national coach of the year honors on three different occasions. We are fortunate to have him here in Hilo, and I believe he is the right person to lead our program back to national prominence. We will also be adding a new head soccer coach, giving each of our men’s and women’s soccer teams their own head coach for the first time in the history of our program. This is greatly needed, as it is unreasonable to expect and ask one coach to successfully attempt to lead both programs that consists of nearly 70 student-athletes. This will greatly enhance the overall student-athlete experience for this program. I am happy to have added three strong staff members to my senior leadership team in Kula Oda, Russ Blunck and Roxanne Levenson. Kula has been at UH-Hilo for many years and oversees internal operations as the associate athletic director. Roxanne is serving as our new NCAA compliance officer and comes to us from Seattle University. She has 20-plus years of NCAA compliance experience and is a strong addition to our program. Russ started in the fall and came to Hilo from Pacific University in Oregon. Russ is our new sports information director and has years of experience in marketing and promotions that will increase the exposure of Vulcan Athletics. Finally, the main reason why we are here is to recruit, retain and graduate our students. I am happy to report that we are doing quite well in this area. In 2015-16, our retention rate was 88 percent, an increase from 75 percent in 2014-15. Our cumulative overall team grade point averages have increased from 2.90 in 2014-15 to 2.96 in 2015-16. While this is an accomplishment, we can always do better. Therefore, in fall 2017 we will be opening a Student-Athlete Academic Success Lab which will serve as a dedicated study and research space for our student-athletes. We also will be looking to add the position of academic specialist that will assist us in our top priority, which is to retain and graduate our student-athletes. I count it a privilege to be in this position and serve this wonderful and amazing community in this way. This is a special place with a rich history and unique and admirable culture. Thank you for supporting our venture to provide the best learning environment possible for our student-athletes. Patrick Guillen is athletics director of University of Hawaii at Hilo. Patrick GUILLEN Athletic Director HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald UH-Hilo’s Brian Ishola goes up for a layup against Hawaii Pacific University on Jan. 21 during a Pacific West Conference game.
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