OPINION: Budget cuts in athletics risk long-term losses

 

 I consider Malone a school that stands out from the rest when it comes to acting in a Christian way, whether it is in the classroom or on the playing field. This was an important factor in my decision to attend Malone.

Cross country runner Sara Polatas is a junior exercise science major. (Photo by Autumn Berry)

These Christian core values became apparent to me when I met the cross country coaches. Their loving ways and the fact that they cared enough to get to know me as a person is ultimately why I decided to attend this university.

Seeing that many of the students here are also athletes, I believe that they too have been greatly influenced by their coaches and by the sound moral aspects that the coaches try to instill in each athlete.

There is one specific cross country coach that has truly stood out to me as a person that really embodies what Malone is all about—a person who truly would do anything for this university. That is David Gramlich.

A Malone alum himself, there are few others in Malone’s history that have accomplished as much athletically as Coach Gramlich did while he was here, 10 time NAIA All-American and National Champion in the marathon being some of his accomplishments. With so much racing experience, he truly understands all aspects of our sport and is able to use this understanding to coach his athletes.

What better way to attract prospective athletes to our institution than with an individual that attended the university and truly excelled here? Few people really understand how much he does for this school.

Recently, the cross country team was informed that, due to budget concerns, Coach Gramlich’s job would be eliminated. The news devastated all of us, not just because it’s right in the middle of our championship season, but also because Coach Gramlich holds such a special place in all of our lives.

Coach Gramlich is more than our coach – he truly cares about us. He has an infectious personality, is someone we all can relate to, easy to confide in, and our biggest cheerleader (literally – his “MCC” cheers from the sideline motivate me to run my best).

In light of such shocking news, we tried to find comfort in the fact that Coach Gramlich had been offered a job at a nearby Division I university. Although it was hard for us to think of him going to another school, we were grateful that he had another job offer.

The day after we heard this upsetting news was a hard one for a lot of us. Thinking of the prospect of not getting to see Coach Gramlich each day, we all tried to fight back the tears, as our team is a very close-knit family. We all tried to get our time in with Coach Gramlich, and between the tears, we tried to get some laughs while reminiscing about memories shared. Needless to say, we all had a hard time saying goodbye.

Leaving practice on what we had all thought was Coach Gramlich’s last day was tough for us. We tried to focus on the bigger picture and on our important championship races ahead, but we could not help but feel that our team had been shaken to the core. Shortly after, I got a knock on my door, and was surprised to see Coach Gramlich’s kids standing outside of it.

After getting to spend time with the kids, Dave gathered up the whole girls’ team for a talk. He informed us that after much soul searching and contemplation he had decided to call the college that offered him a job and turn it down in order to finish out the season at Malone.

Although this news was good for us, we could not help but worry about Coach Gramlich and his family. Reflecting back on his decision to finish out the cross country season at Malone, I have come to realize how selfless and loving Coach Gramlich truly is. It takes a strong, faithful person to put his athletes before himself and to follow his heart and hope that God has a plan.

More recently, the cross country team was informed that even after turning down the position, Coach Gramlich was reoffered the job at the University of Akron at the conclusion of the Malone cross country season. This displays how God is working through his life and that the type of person Coach Gramlich is has not gone unnoticed.  

It takes a strong, faithful person to put his athletes before himself and to follow his heart and hope that God has a plan.

I speak for the whole cross country team when I say that it will be a very hard end to the season to see Coach Gramlich move on to his new opportunity. A part of our family will be missing, but forever part of our team. It saddens me that Coach Gramlich was forced to make such a hard decision because he truly epitomizes the spirit of what Malone University desires in its leaders. He is a caring, gifted coach who brings excitement, Pioneer passion and professionalism to his job.

There will be an undeniable void due to the role that Coach Gramlich played as recruiting coordinator, a position that has taken on even greater significance in continuing the legacy of success of our cross country and track programs since we are now a new member of Division II. He placed great importance on attracting and developing the talent to compete at this new level.

Committing the time and talent to bring exposure to Malone at not only the local scale but also one capable of success at the national level requires a coach like Coach Gramlich who is dedicated to the cause and capable of inspiring athletes to achieve their highest potential.

I respectfully request administration to thoroughly analyze our athletic programs and reconsider cuts that may have long-term negative effects, including potential larger long-term financial costs resulting from short-term savings.

Becoming a full status Division II member of the NCAA is a milestone for the Malone community. As we enter this new level of competition in Division II, please support the athletes and coaches by providing us with the resources we need to best compete and bring success to this commitment.

I pray that Malone will find a way for Coach Gramlich to be part of the Malone University coaching staff in the future. I know that he will forever hold Malone close to his heart and he desires the best for this university. Like I said before, it will be hard seeing Coach Gramlich leave Malone, but I have faith that he will continue to follow God’s plan in hopes of returning to coach at his alma mater someday.

Read more about the athletic department’s staff cuts here.

Sara Polatas is a junior exercise science major.

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One Response to “OPINION: Budget cuts in athletics risk long-term losses”

  1. Allison Black #

    Well said Sara! Praying for Dave, and the team as well. MCC!

    October 30, 2013 at 8:39 am