Last summer, longtime athletic trainer Steph Kowell took over as director of the Blood Fitness center and campus wellness. Office of Communications Writer Evan Robinson ’23 recently spoke with Kowell about her new job and career experiences at Hamilton. Below are excerpts from their conversation.
How did you find yourself in your current role?
I have been with Hamilton since 2007. I started as an athletic trainer in our sports medicine department, which was my career path up until that point. An opportunity arose in the spring of 2022 when they began going through the applicant process to fill the vacancy left by Dave Thompson. [former director of fitness and wellness]. My boss in sports medicine encouraged me to throw my hat in the ring, something I had never considered. It’s not that I didn’t like what I was doing in sports medicine, but it was a great opportunity to grow. So I signed up, went through the process and the rest is history as they say. I started in July 2022 so last year was my first full year.
How did you find the transition from sports medicine to administration?
The day-to-day work is completely different, but one advantage that allowed me to make a smooth transition was my experience in sports medicine and athletic training. What I liked most was that every day was different, so it was a lot of solving problems on the fly… a lot of being reactive when needed, but also finding ways to be proactive. It was a lot to make sure you had an organized setup, because if you know the people and the process in place, things will run smoothly. So I think all of these skills translate into almost any career path. It’s the general life skills that I’ve brought to this position that just has a different face—but it’s still kind of organized chaos. I have to find ways to schedule all of our athletic facilities that balance varsity sports, club sports, and intramurals, find ways to make sure we have enough room for the largest group fitness class schedule we’ve ever had, and take advantage of all the benefits. campus spaces as efficiently as possible.
What achievement are you most proud of?
When I took this job, my biggest fear was definitely doing the HamTrek. Aside from everything else being new and having to learn a lot so quickly, I was really happy that HamTrek came together so well and went smoothly. Some people are familiar with what it used to be, the big campus-wide event we finally had after COVID. That was really fun because a lot of people didn’t know what HamTrek was supposed to be: this “all aboard, in person, campus wide” event. I wandered around all day and hearing the excitement of the students who had just finished made me feel so good. I’m not taking all the credit by any means because I’ve had tons of great support. But it was a lot of fun – now I want to make it better next year.
What changes do you plan to implement in the future?
Something we are currently working on is expanding the scope of intramurals on campus. I came from a very athletic college and we had intramural paintings coming out of our ears. A program was prepared for everything. Here, of course, it’s a bit different – you’re limited to what you can do based on the availability of the device. But over the past year, I’ve listened to students who wish we had a little more. We plan to bring in more internal committee members to expand what we are able to cover and initiate a greater social media presence. That’s one of my short-term goals, and this semester you’re going to see more intramural programming that’s a little more diverse than what’s traditionally offered. There are a few other activities that people are asking about – people are really interested in the loading dock, for example, and we’re trying to get that into the rotation. So we’re excited to work on developing a bigger intramural presence this year.
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