By Ronald Hanaki
On Aug. 15, ESU President Marcia Welsh named Kevin Forde as the Interim Director of Athletics. Forde replaces Josh Looney who left ESU for the same position at Missouri Western State University.
Forde comes to ESU most recently from Wheeling Jesuit University where he served as Director of Athletics for the past two years.
Forde sports an extensive athletic resume. He served as the assistant men’s basketball coach at Southwest Minnesota State and later at the University of Minnesota-Crookston. He also coached softball for one season at Minnesota-Crookston.
He spent the next 10 years at the University of Mary. He was the assistant coach for men’s basketball before becoming the Director of Compliance.
Forde became the Assistant Athletic Director and was later promoted to Associate Athletic Director. He left in 2015 to become the Director of Athletics at Wheeling Jesuit.
“When I left the University of Mary, it was a better situation for the next guy,” Forde said.
Forde is proud of what was achieved at Wheeling Jesuit.
“Our athletics at Wheeling Jesuit was very successful. There were great coaches,” stated Forde.
“It was a great situation with the university,” said Forde. “I enjoyed my time there.”
After two years as AD, Forde was planning to go back home to North Dakota. That was when Jill Willson, President of Double L Consulting, came calling.
“She is conducting the search for the next athletic director,” said Forde.
Forde has been on the job for only a month, but he has not wasted any time.
“My job is to serve the university, and hopefully serve it well. Josh laid the groundwork. We gotta continue that process that has been made,” said Forde. “I am the interim, but I am running the program as if it was mine.’”
“I am keeping the program moving in the right direction and helping with the search for the next AD,” said Forde.
“I met Dr. Welsh, and I am very impressed with her vision for the campus. It’s a great campus, and things are achievable here,” said Forde.
“I want to represent the university well and make sure we do things the right way,” said Forde.
“We have a lot of sports, and they are all important. I want every program to have the opportunity for success,” said Forde. “That is my goal.”
“There are lots of ideas that I want to implement,” said Forde. “Corporate sponsorship is a priority for campus.”
“Josh made headway into that,” said Forde. “It’s important to get that done correctly, so I want to continue with that.”
“Right now, I am focused on getting to know the coaches and finding areas to improve and working to improve those areas on campus,” said Forde.
“Coach [Denny] Douds is an institution,” said Forde. “He doesn’t seem like he’s been doing this for 50 years. He has lots of energy and passion. It’s like he’s just starting out in his career. It’s fun to be around that.”
“The start of fall is an exciting time to be on campus,” said Forde. “I love when students come back.”
“I met some student-athletes briefly at practices,” said Forde. “Everyone has been really friendly and nice.”
“This year was unique because our kids came back to campus for the solar eclipse,” said Forde. “It kicked off the fall semester in a good way.”
“The student-athletes are the most important part of the campus,” said Forde. “So I plan to be at most athletic events.”
“I want to see them more in their environment so that I can help them,” said Forde. “But everyone at the beginning of the season is excited to get started.”
“As soon as adversity hits, the true measure of the student-athletes and coaching staff come out,” Forde continued. “And how they react is important.”
“I want the student-athletes to understand that they are important to the administration,” said Forde. “When they see the AD supporting them and talking to them on campus, it means something to them.”
“SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) is an important piece,” said Forde.
“They represent the student-athletes, and they have more influence than you think.”
“They should be the leaders of athletics,” said Forde.
As an undergraduate, Forde majored in mathematics and minored in psychology at Southwest Minnesota State.
“Originally, I wanted to be an engineer, but then I wanted to teach instead,” said Forde.
“Math teaches you a different way of thinking, and engineering teaches you how to make things better. I like the puzzle of how to do that in the best way possible,” said Forde.
Forde holds a master’s degree in educational leadership and is a proponent of servant leadership. He believes in empowering others and watching them develop and succeed.
“My responsibility is to serve the people in this department and to serve the needs of the coaches,” said Forde.
“I am not at the top dictating things,” Forde continued. “I am at the bottom dealing with issues.”
“I am here to serve them,” stated Forde.
Forde is not currently a candidate to become the next permanent Director of Athletics.
“The NCAA Convention is held in January,” said Forde. “So that’s a good time to find somebody to start on Jan. 1.”
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