By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
Theresa Grosbach was the logical choice as Missouri Western's interim athletic director, once Josh Looney announced his departure for the A.D. job at Division I school North Alabama.
Prior to her arrival in St. Joseph in 2018, Grosbach had spent six years as A.D. at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas. She joined Missouri Western as associate director of athletics for student success and senior woman administrator.
Little did she know she'd be interim A.D. for more than eight months. An eight-month period that brought unprecedented change and turnover to the athletic department. Nonetheless, she remains grateful for the experience, as her time as interim athletic director draws to a close.
"I'd say I'm very grateful for the staff we have and the coaches that we have and how hard they worked and how much they bought into just continuing to move forward while we were waiting for this decision," Grosbach said. "Excited for the student-athletes and all of the success we've had through the year and looking forward to the future of Griffon athletics."
Grosbach was praised Monday, as Missouri Western introduced Andrew Carter as its new permanent athletic director after a nine-month search.
Carter says if it wasn't for Grosbach's efforts to keep things running smoothly, he may have never even considered applying for the position.
"I mean, if it had fallen apart, I don't know if it'd have checked all of the boxes," Carter said of the department. "She kept it going, she made really good decisions. She led in that void and she's put us in a position to just hit the ground running and keep going."
Grosbach oversaw the hiring of four new Missouri Western head coaches - Jessica Fey for volleyball, Jessica Berg for women's lacrosse, Alejandro De la Torre for women's tennis and Joe Yegge, who was hired as the new softball coach just days before Looney's departure.
In addition, Missouri Western is seeking a new senior associate athletic director for external affairs. Brett Esely left that role last November after 14 years. Additionally, associate A.D. Eric Kramer is leaving to take on a professor role at the end of the current school year.
Derek Zimmerman-Guyer, a Plattsburg native, was brought on as the sports information director this past March after that post had been vacant for a few months.
Challenges. Changes. Grosbach is familiar with all of that.
"In athletics, we know better than anyone that you have to be resilient," she said. "Change is inevitable. It's kind of what we do every day. You get knocked down and you get back up again. That's just part of what you do and I think you learn a lot of lessons about that throughout the year."
"I'm proud of our staff and student-athletes for overcoming any challenges that we had this year and coming out successful and better for it on the other end."
University president Elizabeth Kennedy emphasized her gratitude for Grosbach and all of her work this past school year.
"She's been wonderful," Kennedy said of Grosbach. "I know the (athletic) department has leaned on her as well. So, we're happy to have Andy now and Theresa can kind of step back into her (senior woman administrator) role. But, she's just been outstanding for us. I'm very grateful for her."
Grosbach earned the Griff Up Award last week at the annual Golden Griffon Awards, given to the individual in Missouri Western athletics who stepped up the most in a time of need.
Missouri Western football coach Matt Williamson, one of the nine members on the University's A.D. search committee, expressed optimism for the future of the athletic department. A future, he says, that wouldn't have been possible without Grosbach's efforts.
"I love her to death for all of the things that she did," Williamson said. "She did a great job. With her just passing the torch to Andy, and getting this thing going again, it's going to be fun."
"It was a time where things could have really busted at the seams," Missouri Western men's basketball coach Will Martin added on Grosbach's tenure. "Theresa held the fabric together, and more than that. She didn't just help keep things stable - she helped us succeed at a very high level and thrive. What she did is paramount."
Missouri Western women's basketball's berth into the Elite Eight is the headliner from this year. But Griffon football had a winning record. Women's soccer achieved its highest ranking in program history at No. 13 in the fall.
Missouri Western softball is on an eight-game winning streak heading into the MIAA tournament as the No. 4 seed this week. Women's tennis is having its best season probably ever, finishing second at the MIAA tournament last weekend and getting an NCAA tournament bid for the first time 1998.
Women's golfer Allycia Gan is in her second NCAA regional tournament this week, trying to get to nationals for a second year in a row. Just a few of the highlights from an eventful year.
Grosbach looks forward to more achievements, and is excited for what lies ahead. That including a long and well-earned vacation.
"Vacation is looming," she said. "Location is undetermined. I've been advised not to share it to be able to turn off the phone for a couple of weeks, but...probably a beach somewhere."
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.