“It’s really unique having all these diverse opinions and people with minority backgrounds. There are many ideas I wouldn’t have got without the diversified backgrounds.”
Dr. Brian Wickstrom was named UIW director of athletics in 2017, and since that time he’s grown an athletic department that would be the envy of any campus.
A collection of diverse and minority voices have contributed to the growth of the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio.
“The diversity of our staff has allowed all aspects to flourish; this is what I set out to do. It was a lesson I learned early on, diversity helps us reach higher levels.”
His approach of incorporating differing points of view is very much by design and encouraged by UIW.
“There’s Sister Walter Maher, she’s our head of Ministry on campus, one of her key priorities is diversity. I come to have a great close working relationship with her and I understand it’s one of our points of interest for this campus. Getting a diverse staff with the skill sets that they have helped us grow this department and helps us stand out on campus.”
Wickstrom explains that each of his staff members combine their background, ideas and personal histories to create a crackerjack team that has helped UIW Athletics reach new heights.
Richard Duran is Wickstrom’s Deputy AD. They’ve known each other for years and often bounce new ideas off of each other.
“He and I sit down and brainstorm a lot of ideas on what we could do different, revenue generation ideas, social media ideas,” Wickstrom says. “He’s my idea guy and oversees external. He’s also getting a lot of good experience handling budget issues and coaching staff.”
Angela Lawson is UIW’s Senior Associate AD and SWA. She oversees compliance, academics, financial aid. Her role is invaluable according to Wickstrom.
“Academics has become as important as revenue was 5 years ago. We meet formally and informally; I have an open-door policy with my staff. We meet on financial aid, what we can do to grow summer school availability. Anything to do with academic and housing, Angela is the point person on that.”
Brian Davis is the Associate AD Business Affairs and oversees financial operations, game operations, contracts and human resources. He comes to UIW via a unique route that includes a stint with the FBI.
“Brian and I grew up in Kansas City together at rival high schools. He’s a CPA, he used to work for the FBI and I tried to hire at three different schools. He finally came on board and does our contracts; when we talk about numbers, he’s the guy. It was really huge for us to get him on board.
Cari Gold is the Assistant AD Media Relations and oversees media relations, communications and public relations. She’s helped boost the creative thinking in the department.
“She actually worked for me at ULM. You always remember the great staff members, and that’s the ones you try to take with you. She’s on board with our creativity, she understands the media relations aspect. She’s really helped us grow our athletic brand.”
Tony Dollison is the Associate AD Compliance and oversees compliance and eligibility. Wickstrom says he’s been especially helpful in the changing transfer landscape.
“He came from UAB, he played football at UAB, he does compliance, and when we have incoming athletes, he handles any issues. He also helps with the transfer portal.”
Alma Lara is Director of Ticketing and her connections in the community have raised UIW’s profile.
“We recruited her from the WNBA team before they left San Antonio. She oversees all of our ticketing and does a great job with our community outreach. She’s got some really cool programs in place for next year. She’s very well connected in the community.”
Danielle Shedd is the Director of Development, and Wickstrom says she has been integral in the success of the Cardinal Club.
“She’s a former diver from the University of Houston. She’s very connected and has great ideas. She’s helped get our Cardinal Club off the ground. We’re seeing a 300% and 400% increase in revenue by a lot of the programs she’s put in place. She’s a real outside-the-box thinker.”
Together this team is meeting goals and exceeding expectations at every turn. They helped get UIW to its first Football Conference Championship and Playoff Appearance. They have raised record revenues for funds raised, tickets purchased and sponsorships.
The overall student-athlete GPA of 3.22 is the first in the conference in All-Academic honors. They have spearheaded self-funded facility improvements for several sports and have managed to secure six of the seven largest commitments in the history of the program.
“We are constantly looking for ideas, constantly setting new goals. Listening to everyone’s voice is a part of our process; those voices and ideas make us who we are.”