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Haas retiring after 34 years of service to athletic office

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College’s directory officially lists Kathy Haas as “administrative assistant.” But during her 34-year career, Haas was much more than an assistant to the hundreds of students and coaches who have been part of the College’s athletics department.

“Clearly, Kathy has been the assistant athletic director for many, many years,” Director of Athletics Roger Haynes said at a May 2 reception honoring Haas and other retiring Monmouth faculty and staff. She officially retires May 31.

In honor of Haas’s contribution to Monmouth athletics, she received the Alumni Recognition Award at this spring’s annual Fighting Scots Awards.

“Although not an official alum, Mrs. Haas is as much a part of the fiber of the Fighting Scots as any of those who earn degrees or become All-Americans,” said Haynes. “She will be greatly missed in our office by coaches and student-athletes alike. ... Someone else will file the reports and someone else will keep me organized, but nobody’s going to be the heart of our department like she has been.”

Keeping Haynes and his director of athletics predecessor, Terry Glasgow, organized was certainly one of Haas’s most important responsibilities. She also helped coordinate teams’ travel arrangements, such as charter buses and hotels; scheduled officials; and ensured that bench staff, such as scoreboard operators and scorebook keepers, were assigned. She also took care of much of the paperwork relating to NCAA compliance, assisted with student-athlete eligibility and helped manage the department’s budget.

Making copies, making progress

The athletics department has come a long way since Haas’s first day on the job in 1985 which, unbeknownst to her at the time, followed a staff member who only lasted one day at the position.

“No one told me the first person quit after one day,” she said. “Had I known that, I’m not sure I would have taken the job, but I’m sure glad I did.”

In her early days, Haas had to walk to Hewes Library or Wallace Hall to make copies.

“We didn’t have a copier in the office, and there were lots of copies to make, like when (football coach) Kelly Kane wanted copies of his playbook,” she said. “Then Terry got us a printer that was something like what you’d have at home. It was a trial thing that didn’t turn out very well. And we had one of those ditto machines. I got that carbon-y blue stuff all over me. I remember telling Terry, ‘One of us has got to go – me or that stupid little machine.’”

The department, which had 16 varsity sports when Haas started, has grown to 24 varsity teams, and Haas said the office is now “high-tech.” But she recalls taking a temporary step back while the Huff Athletic Center was being constructed in the early 2000s.

“We were relocated to the basement of Haldeman-Thiessen (Science Center) for a while,” she said. “We’d be sitting down there, and the air would kick on with a really loud noise. It would scare me to death.”

The Fighting Scots family

Another of Haas’s tasks was to serve as gatekeeper to the department for all visitors, primarily Monmouth’s student-athletes. She said that has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of the position.

“I wish others could all know the athletes like we do,” she said. “I think of them as my kids.”

From her early days, Haas particularly remembers athletes such as Heather Robertson ’90 and Lesley Stone Quinlan ’94. An accomplished golfer herself, the friendship Haas formed with Molly McNamara ’03, was a natural, especially after McNamara stayed on as golf coach for nine years. Recently, she’s enjoyed conversations with the baseball players who study in the Huff Center’s lobby, including some who are already there when Haas arrives for work at 7:30 a.m.

Students who stopped by her desk soon learned one of Haas’s cardinal rules.

“A lot of times they’ll walk in and ask for a coach by their last name,” she said. “I always correct them and tell them to put ‘Coach’ in front of that name. I think the coaches have earned that respect. The students need to know how to ask for someone when they get out of school and are in the business world, and they encounter a receptionist. I want to make sure they know how to do that.”

What’s ahead (hint: cookies)

As Haas transitions into her next chapter, she said she’ll still do some of the things she enjoyed during her career – spending time with her two young grandchildren, playing golf and attending Monmouth games.

“I’ll enjoy going to the games and not having to do anything,” said Haas, who could frequently be found running the concession stand at football and baseball games and making sure a variety of boxes had been checked at other home events.

On the day Haas was interviewed, several coaches were gathered around her desk, working out the details of an upcoming golf outing. That called to mind a frequent sight in the office – coaches parked in the chairs around Haas’s workstation.

“I would never stop that,” said Haas. “Sometimes the coaches just need to get out of their office and clear out their minds.”

A regular in those sessions was retired baseball coach and equipment manager Roger Sander.

“Coach Sander was one of the first good friends I made when I started working here,” said Haas. “I was a little afraid of him at first, but that didn’t last long. He’s a dear friend of mine. He showed me a few of the ropes.”

Haas kept her emotions in check for that recollection, but she was not as successful when mentioning two other longtime staff members and friends – Patte Shallenberger of information services and Jill Munson of the registrar’s office.

“We’re more like sisters,” she said.

Because Haas is not leaving the area, she’ll continue to see all the familiar faces, and it’s likely that she’ll even spend a bit of time behind the athletic office desk after May 31 to help her successor learn the ropes.

And for those with a sweet tooth, Haas had good news: “I told them that just because I’m retiring doesn’t mean I won’t be around. I’ll still be bringing baked goods and coming to ballgames.”