Athletic Director position changes hands at Westmont

A former Westmont basketball player, a successful businessman and a longtime Warrior supporter has joined the team as the college’s new athletic director. President Gayle D. Beebe announced the appointment of alumnus Dave Odell to this position today.

“We’re thrilled that Dave will become even more involved with Westmont athletics,” Beebe said. “His leadership, commitment to success and dedication to the Warriors bring the qualities required to continue our winning tradition. The college will benefit greatly from his intelligence, business acumen and love for Westmont.”

Odell, who has served as an adjunct professor in the economics and business department for the past six years, has a long history of involvement with Westmont athletics. A men’s basketball player from 1985-1989 and a scholar-athlete, he has maintained a close connection to the Warrior program. From 2002-05, and again since 2007, Odell served as the chair of the Warrior Sports Advisory Board, which provides advice for the athletics program and assists in fundraising. At the request of former Westmont President Stan Gaede, he also served as a member of the Presidential Task Force on Athletics commissioned in 2005.

Odell has developed a strong sense of the mission of the college and the athletic department. “Westmont athletics develops tomorrow’s leaders today,” Odell said. “We believe that athletic competition serves as a laboratory compelling students to learn lessons for life about teamwork, discipline, communication, self-sacrifice, perseverance, drive and endurance.

“As a nationally recognized academic leader, Westmont has demonstrated its commitment to learning through its rigorous liberal arts curriculum. At the same time, the college embraces the historic Christian faith. The integration of first-rate academics, high-level athletic competition and Christian commitment make Westmont unique among its peers. The student-athlete who can maintain the rigorous pace of Westmont’s academic curriculum and develop the personal fortitude to take and make the winning shot in a basketball game is developing the personal characteristics to lead communities of people, instigate movements for change and innovation and mentor the next generation of leaders.”

Odell hopes to bring to the position the lessons he has learned from a long list of successful business ventures, including TynanGroup Inc., Anchor Point IT Solutions, and MedBridge Development Company LLC.

“I’ll be looking at our programs with a business mindset,” Odell said. “I bring an eye toward the big picture of running something that has a lot of different facets. I have experience with different types of business in a lot of different industries. When you look at our athletics department, it has intramurals, it has summer camps, it has sports teams, and it has a relationship with the kinesiology department and the larger college community. My experience in business helps me see how we fit within those contexts.”

Odell’s Westmont pedigree extends to his parents, Westmont alumni Bill and Gayle Odell. Bill Odell serves as the athletic director at Azusa Pacific and coached the men’s basketball program there from 1991-2007. His sister, Susie Maga, played volleyball for Westmont, earning All-American honors in 1990, and works as the athletic director for St. Margaret’s High School in San Juan Capistrano Odell’s wife, DeAnna, another Westmont alumna, ran cross country and track during her college days.

The change in the athletic department comes at the request of Dave Wolf, who decided to step down as athletic director to give his full attention to his work as director of soccer and head coach for both the men’s and women’s programs. Wolf began his tenure as Westmont’s athletic director in 1998.

“I’ve been thinking about this decision for the last year,” Wolf said. “We couldn’t get to the places we needed to go with an athletic director who was also coaching. The college has expressed a new ambition for athletics. In order to maximize the opportunity, we need someone whose primary responsibility is leading this department. That recognition lies at the heart of my thinking.”

Wolf has served as the men’s soccer coach since 1991. Amassing a record of 243-92-36 in 18 years, he has won more games than any men’s soccer coach in Warrior history and holds the program’s best winning percentage (.704). This past season, Wolf took over coaching duties for the women’s soccer squad, which produced a record of 7-7-3.

“We’re grateful for Dave Wolf’s exemplary leadership these past 10 years and respect his desire to return to full-time coaching,” President Beebe said.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the moments that the athletic director’s office has given me and am very thankful for the opportunity to have served in this capacity,” Wolf said. “But there is no looking back. I’m very happy for both the department and the college.”

Wolf looks forward to focusing more time on his coaching. “I think this change will allow me to deepen my individual contact with the players,” he said. “Even before I took on the women’s program, I had been moved away somewhat from that part of coaching. What I envision is not only the opportunity to meet with players on an individual basis but to coach them more individually. For example, I can conduct smaller group training sessions during other parts of the day — non-traditional practice times — where I can work with small groups on more specific types of training.

“I think it also opens up more time for recruiting,” Wolf said. “I don’t know that it necessarily puts me on the road any more than I’m on the road now, but I do think that it opens up opportunities for communication in a more plentiful way. I’m looking forward to that being a part of my daily activity.”