By Ronald Hanaki
On Monday, July 31, it was announced that Josh Looney would be leaving ESU to become the Director of Athletics at Missouri Western State University. Looney’s last official day as Director of Athletics for ESU was Friday, August 18.
Looney said, “I don’t think that it has anything to do with ESU.”
“We love it here,” said Looney. “We love the Poconos.”
“Dr. [Marcia] Welsh is great,” stated Looney. “There will never be a greater university president than Dr. Welsh to work for. She is absolutely unbelievable.”
Looney said that he wasn’t even looking for other opportunities and didn’t even bother to update his resume since becoming the Director of Athletics at ESU in Feb. 2016.
“Sometimes, you get opportunities that you don’t expect,” said Looney.
Looney explained the appeal of his next career opportunity.
“It’s just the area that my wife and I both grew up in,” said the Overland Park, Kan. native.
“I was there when the Kansas City Chiefs brought its training camp to Missouri Western State University,” said Looney.
“So I am leaving at a time when I didn’t expect to, but moving forward there is a great foundation at ESU,” said Looney.
“This will be a very attractive job for the next person coming in,” said Looney.
“I feel that I am leaving this place in a better place than when I found it,” said Looney.
In his time as ESU’s Director of Athletics, Looney focused on his three pillars of success: classroom, competition and community.
ESU’s student-athletes compiled an overall GPA of 3.22 and led 18 schools in community service hours under Looney’s stewardship.
Each year, the PSAC recognizes the best athletic program in its conference with the F. Dixon Trophy. ESU finished in fifth place this past school year.
“It was our best finish in 21 years,” stated Looney.
“So I feel great about what I did here,” said Looney. “I tried to really enhance the experience for our student-athletes.”
“The rebranding was a big piece of that,” said Looney.
ESU’s recent rebranding was the brainchild of Welsh and ESU Director of University Relations Dr. Brenda Friday.
“I was just fortunate to lead that for the Department of Athletics,” stated Looney.
The result was a new athletic logo and a new mascot for the Warriors.
“There are things that I still want to accomplish here,” said Looney. “But I am proud of the Under Armour deal.”
Earlier in the summer, it was announced that ESU signed a five-year contract with Under Armour to be the exclusive provider of Warrior athletic apparel.
Starting this fall, the student-athletes on ESU’s football team will be wearing new helmets that enable its athletic trainers to monitor the impact of the hits that they take on the field. “So many little things,” said Looney.
Other projects that happened under Looney’s leadership include the Sports Performance Institute.
Dr. Matthew Miltenberger serves as the Institute’s Coordinator of Sports Performance and works with student-athletes throughout the course of the year to improve their athletic performances.
“Over 20 student-athletes stayed and worked out with Matt this summer, and it has made a major difference,” said Looney.
The Sports Performance Institute is unique to ESU and represents a major competitive advantage for the university.
“But I will miss the student-athletes the most,” said Looney. “I have developed great relationships with the men and women of this program.”
“Samantha Miller will be the next president of SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee),” said Looney. “She is going to be great.”
Looney was also effusive in his praise for Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach Xeni Barakos.
“Xeni is one of the most talented coaches I’ve ever seen,” stated Looney. “And that includes pro sports and college sports.”
“Her ability to connect with her student-athletes and her relationships with her athletes–she is an unbelievable talent,” stated Looney.
Last spring, Barakos led the Women’s Lacrosse program to its first conference championship in program history.
“The campus support has been great,” said Looney. “The coaches, the student-athletes–we leave with great feelings.”
“Our family is incredibly thankful to the campus community as a whole,” said Looney. “Inside and outside of athletics, the people have been great to us here.”
“I leave with so many positive thoughts and memories about ESU,” said Looney.
“We’ve truly loved our time here,” stated Looney.
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