Director of Athletics to be recognized with Administrator of the Year honor
Once she realized as a teenager that her dreams of playing basketball professionally in the WNBA would not materialize, Theresa Yetmar turned her attention to a career in athletics administration.
“I always knew I wanted to stay in the sports field somehow and decided to pursue a business major to build a foundation that would prepare me for any career path,” said Yetmar, who received a bachelor’s degree from Baker in 2002 and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University in 2006. “I found a true calling working with student-athletes as an administrator.”
In her first year as director of athletics at her alma mater, Yetmar has already made an impact, earning a prestigious honor. She will be recognized by the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators at the Administrator of the Year Dinner on Oct. 11 at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh, joining six other recipients from all levels of collegiate competition.
“NACWAA is honored to recognize and celebrate this inspiring, accomplished group of women,” said Patti Phillips, chief executive officer of the organization. “Each of these women are proven leaders in their departments, institutions and communities, and we commend them for their tireless work.”
The lone female to lead an athletic program in the 11-team Heart of America Athletic Conference, Yetmar was promoted on Jan. 1, 2011, from associate athletic director to director of athletics. She had served as assistant director of athletics from 2003 to 2009.
The National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators is regarded as the premier advocacy organization that empowers, develops, assists, celebrates, affirms, involves and honors women working in all fields of intercollegiate athletics and takes a proactive role in advancing women into positions of influence.
“I was extremely surprised and very humbled that my peers would recognize me and feel that I was worthy of this award,” Yetmar said.
Former Baker athletic director Dan Harris, Yetmar’s predecessor, had complete confidence in her ability to lead the Wildcat program. Knowing Yetmar since she was a collegian, Harris was not surprised by the national recognition.
“As a student-athlete, Theresa Yetmar was an intense competitor and a strong team player,” Harris said. “She transferred those same qualities to her role as an assistant athletic director, where she was known for her professionalism and dependability. Our work together was rewarding and productive, resulting in a lifelong friendship and professional bond. I have total confidence in her leadership skills as an athletic administrator.”
Through late September, three of Baker’s fall sports teams—men’s soccer (No. 10), women’s soccer (No. 13) and football (No. 22)—were ranked in the NAIA Top 25 coaches’ polls. Yetmar takes tremendous pride in the successes of all the teams and coaches.
“At the end of the day I think it’s always about the student-athletes,” Yetmar said. “It is important for me to work at a place with a strong mission and values that correlate with my own and to work with a very dynamic coaching staff. We are fortunate to have coaches who work extremely hard and win at the same time.”
Working closely with Harris after graduating from Baker helped prepare Yetmar. “Dan Harris is in the NAIA Hall of Fame, Baker Athletic Hall of Fame and has his own wall of awards,” Yetmar noted. “He’s tremendous in terms of accomplishments and an even better person. He’s been a mentor and guided me in the nuances in working with a staff and donors.”
Yetmar has been a part of the Baker family since the late 1990s when she was a student-athlete, playing basketball for the Wildcats. She was a student at St. Edmond High School in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and traveled to camps in the Midwest before discovering Baker and enjoying her campus visit and becoming acquainted with the team.
“I learned early on that there is a lot of one-on-one attention at Baker and a lot of willingness from professors to go the extra mile,” she said. “Baker has helped prepare me in a lot of different ways and provided a strong foundation. The classes are difficult, but it only put me in a better position to sit in the athletic director’s chair.”