By Fred Cromartie, Ed.D. |
The United States Sports Academy strives to meet its mission of making contributions to the field of sport by preparing men and women for the profession of sport. Today, the Academy’s spotlight shines on alumnus Dr. Matthew Grimaldi.
Iona College in 2021 committed to creating a complete intramural sports program in doing so that hired United States Sports Academy Alumnus Dr. Matthew Grimaldi as the school’s first director of club sports, he was charged with developing and leading the program.
The push to bring club sports to Iona’s campus came in May 2021 when at the time Iona College created the Office of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs and Grimaldi was brought in to oversee and carry out their new initiative.
Men’s and women’s club soccer started their inaugural seasons that 2021 semester and provided interested students their first taste of an expanded intramural scene. Rugby was previously the only club sport offered at Iona, but now Gaels have more options when it comes to the sports they want to pursue.
Currently, as the Club Sport Director for Iona College, in addition to the sports mentioned earlier, they also offer men’s rugby, men’s and women’s basketball, and a co-ed weightlifting team.
Grimaldi has worked in collegiate athletics for his entire career. The United States Sports Academy graduate has a passion and great love for sports as a player, coaching career at first, but he switched to the administrative side of his field while working at Lehigh University.
The Queens native says that he was drawn in by the professionalism, Catholic education and community at Iona, but that most of all, he was excited for the challenge of building something from the ground up.
“To hear: ‘You’re starting a program from scratch on every level,’ that appeals to me” Grimaldi said. “I like to build, I like to grow, especially when students are involved.”
Grimaldi believed then and still today that students who have a love for certain sports should not have to stop playing them once they get to college. The programs that he created continues to make sports accessible to anyone who wants to engage in them.
Club sports offer a balance for students who have a desire to play the games they love and who miss the competition, but still need to be able to maintain their GPAs and participate in other social activities, according to Grimaldi.
Grimaldi made it known how integral the players were to club sports process. He praised the work of players to recruit and petition for teams to get them off the ground running and continuing to this day.
Grimaldi has also heralded the college itself for the support that they have given to the program. He credited the program’s early success to the administration’s help as well as other more specific staff, such as Anthony Scacia in IT for his help with the esports program.
“Whether its students, faculty or staff, it’s all about people,” Grimaldi said. “Great leadership and good people helped grow the programs”.
Dr. Fred Cromartie is the Director of Doctoral Studies at the United States Sports Academy.