Thursday, July 15, 2021

PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW: Kelly Anderson Diercks


2. Kelly Anderson Diercks

Kelly Anderson Diercks is the director of athletics at the College of Saint Benedict. She has had a rapid ascent up the ladder in Division III administration, starting as an assistant director with the MIAC. We caught up with her and asked about her path.

When did you first become interested in athletics? 

My dad was a high school wrestling coach, so I've been around athletics as long as I can remember. When I went to college, my intention was to pursue the K-12 teaching/coaching track, however, I found college athletics and higher education and really feel this is where I am called to be.

What (or who) inspired you to pursue athletics as a professional career? 

When I started in college athletics, I was fortunate to have three outstanding and strong female mentors. These women encouraged, guided and mentored me in a way I will be forever grateful for.  I would not be where I am today without their support. 

What impact did the Ethnic Minority and Women's Internship Grant have for you? 

The EMWI grant program significantly launched my career. The opportunity to have a paid, two-year experience with a built-in mentoring component and professional development support -- I don't know of another program like it. I believe the NCAA support for this program, as well as their other grant programs, is playing a critical role in launching administrative careers for women and minorities.

Biggest difference between working on a campus and for a conference (MIAC or MLC/MWLC). 

The biggest difference I see between the conference office and being on a campus is the interaction with students. I have learned so much from my experiences in a conference office (from governance to compliance to championships), but there is something incredibly special about watching a first-year student come in and over the course of their time at our institution really find out who they are and who they want to be in the world. The transformation that can happen during these four years is nothing short of incredible and its energizing to send empowered student-athletes out in the world ready to make it a better place.

Biggest challenge facing MIAC and DIII? 

From the MIAC perspective, we will have a membership change in 2021-22, which will be the first time our conference has had a membership change since 1985, so we are looking forward to the challenges and opportunities this change will present. From a DIII perspective, COVID, NIL and student-athlete mental health are some of the big ticket items the division will continue to tackle in the upcoming school year.

If you had to choose one sport - softball or track and field? 

If I was a college student-athlete today, I probably wouldn't pick either softball or track and field and would go with women's wrestling. I grew up in a wrestling family, but there were no opportunities to compete at the college level for women at that time. It has been outstanding to see the growth of women's wrestling at the college level and achieving NCAA emerging sport status is just the next important step for the growth of the sport.

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