Story Courtesy of Oberlin Sports Information Department
Oberlin College Associate Vice President for Athletics Advancement and Delta Lodge Director of Athletics & Physical Education, Natalie Winkelfoos, has been selected as a 2017-18 Division III Under Armour AD of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).
Winkelfoos is one of four athletic directors chosen from NCAA Division III, joining Richard Lenfest (Westfield State University), Tony Mariano (Norwich University), and David Martin (University of Scranton). The award spans seven divisions and honors 28 athletics directors annually (four from each division). She is one of just five females to earn the prestigious honor.
The Under Armour AD of the Year Award program was created to recognize intercollegiate directors of athletics for their commitment and administrative excellence within a campus and/or college community environment. Winkelfoos will receive the award June 29 during the annual NACDA Convention, which is being held in Washington D.C. This is Oberlin's first AD of the Year award since its inception in 1998.
"Natalie is a dedicated, dynamic and inclusive leader," Oberlin College President Carmen Ambar said. "Along with her athletics colleagues, she has elevated the quality and competitiveness of Oberlin's varsity programs. She has created terrific new programs for students and community members, built new facilities, revitalized health and wellness activities, and re-energized athletics alumni. I am thrilled that Natalie has received this honor, and I offer thanks and congratulations to Natalie, our coaches, athletics staff, and all of Oberlin's student-athletes. Go Yeo!"
Winkelfoos, who was named the Division III Administrator of the Year by Women Leaders in College Sports (formerly NACWAA) in 2015, inherited a department that was in the early stages of a capital campaign during which she has collaborated with the office of development to raise over $30 million dollars to date. Those funds helped build the Austin E. Knowlton Athletics Complex and the soon-to-be Pat '63 and Merrill Shanks '61 Health & Wellness Center, which is scheduled to open its doors in August of 2018. Winkelfoos has also procured funds for a complete overhaul of Carr Pool as part of the health and wellness center project. During her tenure, Dill Field underwent a complete transformation with installation of a turf infield, stadium seating, and a press box. In February of 2018, the Yeowomen softball field also received a large upgrade with the addition of new stadium seating and a press box.
She has a proven track record of generating support for the department through her work with the John W. Heisman Club. Since she began managing the organization, each year both the total number of donors and money raised has increased.
"This award is validation of the work our entire staff has put into strengthening the athletics and wellness experience at Oberlin College," Winkelfoos said. "I don't see this as just an honor for me but for every student-athlete, coach, staff member, alumni and campus partner. This is a nod of respect for all of our hard work on behalf of Oberlin College. "
Since taking over the department of athletics and physical education in December of 2012, Oberlin's varsity athletics teams have also experienced unprecedented success. Recently, Oberlin has been able to win its first conference championships in the sports of baseball, women's basketball, and women's outdoor track and field. Additionally, the men's soccer team, and members of the women's tennis and cross country teams have competed at the national level.
Winkelfoos has presented at numerous NCAA and NACDA conferences and is recognized nationally as an industry leader in the areas of equity, diversity, and inclusion. She served on the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Diversity Committee conference with presidents and Executive Director Keri Alexander Luchowski to create a conference-wide program to mentor females and minorities. Additionally, she was part of a working group that produced Oberlin's first-ever varsity student-athlete transgender inclusion policy.
"This is the 20th year for the Athletics Director of the Year Program, and each year that goes by, we are continually blown away by the standard of success that these award winners maintain across all levels of college athletics," said Bob Vecchione, NACDA Executive Director. "Over the last two decades, we have been fortunate to recognize more than 425 individuals for the impressive work they do and the examples they set for everyone in our industry."
All NACDA-member directors of athletics in the United States, Canada and Mexico who met the criteria were eligible for the award. Among the criteria were service as an AD for a minimum of five academic years; demonstration of commitment to higher education and student-athletes; continuous teamwork, loyalty and excellence; and the ability to inspire individuals or groups to high levels of accomplishments.
About NACDA: NACDA, now in its 53rd year, is the professional and educational Association for more than 15,700 college athletics administrators at more than 1,700 institutions throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. More than 6,500 athletics administrators annually attend NACDA & Affiliates Convention Week. Additionally, NACDA manages 17 professional associations and three foundations. For more information on NACDA, visit www.nacda.com.