Brandon Leimbach, the new athletic director for Skyhawks Athletics, continues to update Skyhawks Athletics staff and facilities since he was hired on April 30, 2019.
Since he took the position, he promoted Jim Foltz from his position as the associate and assistant head coach for the golf team, to the head coach for both the men’s and women’s golf teams in March 2019, Leimbach said.
Orlando Griego was promoted from assistant coach to head coach for the women’s basketball team August 1, 2019.
Ashley Travis was hired as head coach for women’s lacrosse Sept. 1, 2019, and Brett Sublett was promoted to head coach for women’s cross country/track and field, Leimbach said.
Head coach, Tricia Melfy, resigned from the women’s volleyball team on Jan. 6, and interviews are currently in the works to fill for that position, Leimbach said.
Another big change made within Skyhawks Athletics was the hiring of a new head coach for softball. Ashley Reeves, was hired Jan. 6, just one month before the softball team’s first game.
“We felt like we had to make a change in softball, and we did,” said David Wilson, assistant athletic director of communications.
Although the sudden change in leadership roles isn’t ideal in Skyhawks culture, Wilson said he is confident that her qualifications as a leader are going to develop a great culture with the student athletes.
Most recently it was announced on Jan. 30 that Brandon Crosby, head coach of football, resigned from his position to join the coaching staff at Boise State University, Leimbach said.
Leimbach said that he has two finalists for football’s head coaching position coming to FLC. Leimback will meet with them and the athletic department should have a decision made by the end of the week.
Leimbach plans on transforming the aquatic center into a 10,300 sq. ft. “strength and conditioning center,” which includes the replacement and termination of aquatic-related activities to allow for more space and equipment for athletes, Leimbach said.
The “strength and conditioning center” is a project contingent upon a hundred percent philanthropic funding, meaning that the funding for the projects have to come from private donations, Leimbach said.
“When you're recruiting in Division II, you need to enhance your facilities,” Leimbach said. “All these other schools in our conference already have these nice, new facilities, and we’re behind the times, so we’re just trying to catch up with what everybody else has.”
While the Health Science Center remains a priority for academics in exercise science, another project called the “adaptive exercise lab” will be constructed to serve as an auxiliary gym for student athletes, Leimbach said.
“During the day it’s going to be used for the faculty and staff to teach classes, but then in the evenings athletics will be able to use it.” Leimbach said.
With the arrival of the adaptive exercise lab comes brand-new locker rooms for women’s sports, Leimbach said.
He said that if the state allows funding to go through this spring, then construction for the adaptive science lab will commence this summer.
Skyhawks Athletics should continue to search for funding to improve their space, Katrina Chandler, junior basketball player and captain for the women’s team, said.
Chandler transferred from Colorado Mesa University, where she said the facilities were updated regularly.
Skyhawks Athletics hopes to help recruitment with a branding initiative—door and window wraps, or adhesive vinyl used to display text and symbols, Wilson said.
Leimbach intends to enhance the Skyhawks Athletics brand by replacing the floors and repainting the walls in the athletics office, says Wilson, assistant director of communications.
To prevent the effect of harsh climate on the softball field, Leimbach acquired tarps to cover and protect it during the winter so that athletes will have a playable surface, Wilson said.
Griego, head coach of women's basketball, said that being able to show the community that they are rallying around student athletes and putting them first on top of having a winning tradition is going to offer the athletes a good experience.
Camaraderie is the biggest thing that Griego has taken notice of in being part of FLC athletics, Griego said.
“We’re all going to go want to support men’s soccer and women’s soccer and football and all the other athletics just because we’re a big family and we have each others backs,” said Chandler, junior basketball player.
There has been a sense of new energy ever since Leinbach’s arrival and that it feels uplifting to see a number of people so supportive, Griego said.
Leinbach has empowered his staff by giving them a voice and the freedom to try and make changes with him, Wilson said.
When pitching ideas for the new locker rooms, Leinbach asked around about what was wanted in them, Griego said.
“He really wants our input, he really wants us to feel valued, so it’s really nice to have someone like that to work for,” Greigo said.
Griego said that Leinbach is very transparent and is a person who wants to make sure everyone has a say.
“I really try to make decisions that are really going to impact our student athletes in a positive way, whether that’s having success in competing for the skyhawks or having success in life, we just want to make sure we’re making a difference in everything we do,” Leimbach said.