New AD, from DIII school, hopes to bridge athletics, student body

Cody Jones, Sports Editor

Just as Anselmians prepared to return to the Hilltop for the spring semester, a new era began for the Saint Anselm Athletic Department. College President Dr. Steven DiSalvo announced that Daron Montgomery was selected as the Hawks’ new Athletic Director on December 21, 2015. In addition, Montgomery will also serve as a member of President DiSalvo’s cabinet.

For St. A’s, Montgomery is the eighth Athletic Director to serve in either an interim or full-time basis since the retirement of Ed Cannon, who was the leader of Hawks Athletics from 2000-2009.

Daron comes to St. A’s with a diverse background of experience in college athletics. He attended Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina, where he earned his undergraduate degree. Montgomery describes Lenoir-Rhyne as being “a Division II school that is a lot like Saint Anselm; 2000 students, liberal arts, private, beautiful campus, and I went to work for the athletics department. I did event management, ticket sales, and at some point during my college career I thought about working in athletics.” Daron ended up earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management from Lenoir-Rhyne, and went on to work in Minor League Baseball for the Chicago White Sox organization. “Working in Minor League Baseball was a tremendous experience for me. It taught me work ethic, and part of being on a team,” Montgomery told the Crier.

After a few years, Daron decided to go back to school and earned his Master’s Degree in Athletic Administration at Ball State University in Indiana. Right after completing graduate school, he accepted a job working in athletics at the University of Detroit, a Division I school. While there, Daron worked his way up the latter first as an Assistant Athletic Director, Associate Athletic Director, Senior Associate Athletic Director, and also coached women’s tennis for nine years.

Daron looks back on his coaching experience and believes it has helped him relate to coaches. “Perhaps I didn’t realize it at the time, but I think that coaching really has become an asset for me as an Athletic Director. Working with all of our head coaches both at my previous institution and here at Saint Anselm, I think they appreciate that I have recruited, I have learned how to operate within a budget, I have learned how to fundraise to provide for student athlete improvements and enhancements, I understand the travel grind, and I think that for the most part that coaches appreciate the fact that I did it for a long time.”

In 2011, Daron became Director of Athletics at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, a Division III institution. The athletic department at UW-Stevens is similar to St. A’s in that they have 20 sports, and 500 student athletes. Montgomery describes taking the job at UW-Stevens as being “a life changing experience for me, great athletics program, tradition, athletic and academic excellence and an invaluable career experience for me.”

Montgomery says that his goals moving forward for St. A’s athletics have been developed into “what I call a two, five, and ten year vision to help the Hawks soar higher.” He said he plans to “acknowledge some of our success in the past, but [I’m] also hoping to raise the bar, build our brand, and have a high profile.”

He also said that he looks forward to “working with our coaches and staff members. They all love Saint Anselm, and I think if together we can work really hard to be more competitive both academically and athletically to build our brand in New England as one of the best small private Catholic colleges in New England, and we want to be one of the best small private athletic departments. Whether that is Division II or Division III, we want to provide a first class experience for our student athletes, and have an athletics program that all students, all faculty and staff, and all alumni can be proud of.”

The Crier also asked Montgomery if there were any developments on the college’s application to enter an exploratory phase of membership in Division III. Montgomery said “No, there is no news right now. I do understand that student athletes and coaches don’t like uncertainty, but I have confidence in President DiSalvo and the college’s leadership team that we’ll make a decision that’s in the best interest of St. A’s and our athletics program.”

Montgomery also added that “I have been at a Division II school as an undergraduate student and had a great experience, I worked at a private Catholic Division I institution for the majority of my career and I have also seen the NCAA from a Division III set of lenses at UW-Stevens Point and if there is one thing in common with all those schools, it doesn’t matter Division I, II, or III, our job as coaches and administrators is to provide a transformational four year student athlete experience for our young people.”

Daron said that he is most excited about his family getting here, as they are currently still living in Wisconsin. “If I had a list of the best things about my job, it is the fact that I have three young kids who get to watch our student athletes compete. Saint Anselm, I know is place where family is an important part of what we do and I love having my kids at the athletic events and interacting with the Hawk student athletes.”

Something that Daron is working hard to do is “getting to know all of our student athletes by name.” He has already met with many of the college’s athletic teams and looks forward to reaching out to the rest of the student body as a whole. “Something that you’ll find I take great pride in is that it is not just the student athletes. There are 1500-1600 students here who aren’t student athletes and I really believe strongly in finding ways to connect athletics with all of the students at St. A’s. I know that students are busy with academics, but I think attending the events are a social outlet. I’m looking forward to working with people across campus to find ways we can get athletics and all students connected together.”