By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Thursday, August 1, 2013 —
The front lobby of Merner Gymnasium has a small waiting area on the right as you walk into the front of the building.
Housed in a hallway next to that room are the staff of the Pfeiffer University athletic department.
Included in those offices is the athletic director’s office, which now houses side-by-side computer screens for a new vice president for athletics and athletic director with the energy and drive to need two monitors.
Bob Reasso, a 1973 graduate of Pfeiffer, spent 29 seasons as the head coach of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights men’s soccer team, amassing a 351-183-71 record in that time, including 13 appearances in the NCAA Tournament and a national runner-up finish in 1990.
That same season, Reasso was named national Coach of the Year, and was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year and New Jersey Coach of the year four times (1983, ’87, ’89 and ’90).
The new Pfeiffer AD has also coached at every level, including NAIA and Division III, as well as having coached in high school. Reasso also was the athletic director at Division III Husson.
Coaching the Coaches
Reasso said he felt like his experience coaching at the NCAA Division I level will help him as the Pfeiffer athletic director.
“There is a troubling trend in college athletics, especially at the D-I level, where athletic directors have not been college coaches before, let alone even players,” Reasso said.
Reasso will coach the men’s soccer team at Pfeiffer, but he said that his role as athletic director was first about being the coach of the coaches.
“You have to guide them, lead them, motivate them, educate them,” Reasso said referring to coaches.
“If you’ve never been in their shoes, if you don’t know what it feels like after a loss, let alone losing a recruit, you really can’t help them with their job.”
Reasso said that the situation at Rutgers was similar in that those in the administration had never coached a team.
“Not to knock them, but it got to the point where no one that spoke to me on a daily basis had ever coached. That is prevalent (everywhere) nowadays,” Reasso said.
Coaches of the individual sports “are the stewards of the program,” according to Reasso.
It Starts at the Top
One of the factors that brought Reasso back to the Misenheimer campus was current Pfeiffer president, Dr. Mike Miller.
“I was very careful when coming here; I kidded (Dr. Miller) that he has tough shoes to fill,” Reasso said referring to his former school president at Husson, Robert Clark.
“If the president and the board of trustees buy into your dreams and visions, you can actually carry them out and help the student-athletes.”
Reasso said that he would not want to say anything negative about people before him, but that really “it’s not about looking backwards; it’s about looking forwards.”
In coming to Pfeiffer, Reasso said that the situation was similar to that at Husson, that the program “was crying out for direction.”
Using the example of his daughter, 21-year old Danielle, and son, 19-year old Bobby who will play soccer at Pfeiffer, Reasso likened treating players like they were your children.
“I won’t do everything my children want; they still need to be guided and led. I am as much or more concerned about what the coaches think and believe.”
Finding a balance between the Division III mantra of the best interest of the student-athlete coming first and the competitive level of Division I will be a challenge, according to Reasso.
The Falcon Brand
The new vice president of athletics said that another focus for him was to improve the brand of Pfeiffer.
Reasso and the Falcons’ program have recently signed an all-school deal with New Balance, a Boston-based athletic wear company that manufactures its goods in the United States, something Reasso said was important.
“I stumbled upon New Balance, and went with them because they were willing to work with you, had great personal service and we like the fact that they are still making sneakers in America,” Reasso said.
Along with the New Balance deal was a new impetus to sell the Falcon logo as is, in the black-and-gold, and not ever change it.
“You want to have a brand. I saw the Falcons logo in grey, black, pink, and camo; you can’t change your brand, your identity.”
Reasso also said that Pfeiffer will be working with local companies and look to shop local for the program’s needs, something he learned while in his time at Husson living in the small community of Bangor, Maine.
A Great Staff In Place
In taking over the responsibilities of the athletic department, Reasso said that he was fortunate to have a strong group of people on the Pfeiffer staff, something he never had in place in places like Rutgers and Husson.
Under Reasso, the infrastructure of the department changed, with Jack Ingram being promoted to deputy AD and long-time staffers Micki Thompson and Allen Snook both being promoted to senior associate athletic directors. Four other coaches also were promoted to assistant athletic director, to improve the infrastructure.
“I have not seen better professionals in my life. If I don’t listen to their guidance, I’m pretty foolish.”
A Window to the World
Ultimately, Reasso said, the goal for the Pfeiffer athletic department comes from his time spent as a student at the school and how he felt then.
“We want to embrace the village concept; Pfeiffer is a unique situation. We want to take the great things that Stanly and Pfeiffer has to offer and let people know about it. Our objective is to have an athletic department that the university, the county and the alumni can be proud of.”