CRETE, NE — Mark Wateska has been a part of nearly every aspect of college athletics.
Now he’s following his most recent boss from Stetson University to Doane to cross athletic director off his college sports bingo card.
“When (Dr. Roger Hughes) approached with what my thoughts are and if I would be interested in the position, I immediately said yes,” Wateska said.
Dr. Roger Hughes brought Wateska with him from Stetson after the former head football coach took the University President job at Doane. Wateska was Director of Strength and Conditioning for the Hatters. He’s also served as strength coach at Indiana, Stanford and Maine in addition to holding administrative roles. Add in his experience playing on Penn State’s 1986 national title football team, and he appears pretty well-rounded.
“I’ve worked with all sports throughout my career from the ground up," Wateska said. "I understand how coaches think, I understand the pressure they feel, I work very, very close with the student athletes. That kind of gives me a really great understanding of how things work outside of the administrative realm.”
Hughes says the AD job carries great importance at Doane with more than 60 percent of in-person students doubling as athletes. He says Wateska has the intangibles he was looking for.
“He’s highly organized, great relationship builder, great team leader, he’s a great leader," Hughes said. "That’s the bottom line.”
The president is setting the bar high. Doane just finished well in the GPAC conference all-sports rankings. Hughes congratulated the coaches... and offered a challenge via email.
“I said, ‘to all coaches, congratulations for fourth place in the GPAC conference and I’m looking forward to working with you so we never finish that low again,'” Hughes said.
Wateska has lofty objectives for his department, too.
“My goal is to make the athletic department the best place to work on campus," Wateska said. "I want our coaches to look forward to coming to work every day, I want our student-athletes to have success, I want our coaches to recruit top quality athletes as well as top quality students.”
The fall sports season is underway at Doane. The football season kicks off on Saturday at Briar Cliff. You can listen to the game on Ol' Red 99-5.