New A.D. feeling at home
October 20, 2006
The Salt Lake Tribune
By Matt Thurber
Like so many who played little league football, Shay Wyatt fancied the idea of NFL agents knocking down his door with a chance to be the next Joe Montana. While his quarterback days at Murray High School led to greater opportunities at the college level, reality hit like a blitz defense as graduation approached.
"At that point I had to kick it into gear academically. I knew my playing days were going to end at some point as my body start to hurt even after rec games," said the newly appointed Athletic Director of Westminster College. "When I found out there were opportunities in sports administration, it really piqued my interest. As a student-athlete, I knew how real the void was for a lot of players after they left the locker room."
Just three weeks into his new job, Wyatt is developing innovative ways to raise awareness about club sports and intercollegiate athletics for an institution primarily known for its academics. At this point, he's already met with coaches and athletes in an effort to gain an understanding of the sports culture on campus.
But working with students and provosts in a small-conference school is a challenge Wyatt has experienced previously. In fact, he's held sports-management positions all over the state, from Salt Lake Community College to a more recent stint as Wildcat Club Executive Director at Weber State. When Westminster sought to take its program to the next level earlier this fall, Wyatt was ecstatic about his return to Salt Lake City.
"Right now I think there's some awareness of the facilities especially with the new soccer field and Health and Wellness Center, but I don't think it's enough. I believe college athletics in general are an integral part of the school's overall mission," said Wyatt, about perceptions, and common misconceptions, about Westminster. "We're part of the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) and affiliated with the Frontier Conference in a majority of our sports. Playing schools like Carroll College or Montana Tech always makes for good match-ups and relationships for those involved."
In addition to his office responsibilities, Wyatt is also a hands-on guy, picking up trash under the bleachers and tearing tickets at the doors. Such tasks are hardly menial for the ex-Spartan who admits his accomplishment of becoming a full-time athletic director is a dream come true. In fact when he's not working, he likes to catch a football or basketball game with his wife and two sons, who have been supportive of his sports-related endeavors that have led him from one city to the next.
"I did a lot of internships and grunt work along the way, but all those experiences helped prepare me for where I am today," said Wyatt. "I like to observe successful people and take tips from them when it comes to developing my own philosophies. Athletic directors such as Chris Hill at Utah or Amy Hackett, who's now at Puget Sound, have allowed me act as a sponge and observe how they do business."
As Wyatt hopes to help coaches and athletes in building their respective programs from women's volleyball to men's soccer, he always takes time to reflect upon his experiences growing up and playing football in Utah.
"I trace a good deal of my success to my Murray roots. People from there appreciate what they have and aren't afraid to work for it," says Wyatt on visiting his old stomping grounds. "There's a strong work ethic upon which the city was founded. You can still see those values today in little league programs throughout the neighborhoods and it makes me happy to see some things never change."