Forty & Oh
July 16, 2018
July 16, 2018
- © Todd White Stills and Motion
“Glada, why do you always have to be the best?”
Southwestern University Athletic Director Dr. Glada Munt vividly remembers her mom asking her this question when she was in junior high. Until then, it had never occurred to her that not everyone shared the same fierce competitiveness. “Doesn’t everybody want to be the best?”
It was eye-opening to realize that some people would play sports or participate in activities just for fun.
Of course she liked to have fun, but she also wanted to be the best. It didn’t matter if it was athletics, academics, or tiddlywinks, Munt has had an intense desire to win for as long as she can remember. Of course nobody can win all the time, but that competitive spirit runs deep and always pushed her to improve.
It is a trait she carries to this day, and it has served her well over the years. Munt has been an Assistant Coach, Head Coach, Athletic Trainer, Recruiter, Professor, Administrator and now Athletic Director during her 43-year tenure at Southwestern. To say she is an integral part of Southwestern is an understatement. It’s nearly impossible to think of Pirate Athletics without Dr. Munt!
Munt was a college athlete in the early 1970s, playing tennis, volleyball, and basketball at Trinity University in San Antonio. “I was a college athlete during the formative years of organized women sports.” Title IX was passed in 1972, prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. “I was fortunate to grow with Title IX and to grow with women’s athletics.” She became active in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) in its early years, laying the groundwork for her lifelong career in college athletics.
Dr. Munt was a graduate student at Baylor University when she was recruited by former Southwestern Athletic Director Dr. Tex Kassen. She came to Southwestern in the fall of 1975 as a coach and kinesiology instructor. Officially, she was hired to coach volleyball and tennis, but unofficially, she was chosen to play a major role in developing all of the women’s athletic programs at SU.
At the time, there were only two women’s sports on campus: volleyball and tennis (men had four: baseball, basketball, golf, and tennis). She was instrumental in developing women’s intercollegiate athletics on campus, and later became equally committed to men’s athletics when she became Director of Athletics.
During her 20-year coaching tenure, Coach Munt led the Pirates to six NAIA District and Bi-District Championships, earned nine NAIA National Championship appearances and finished in the top 10 seven times, including a runner-up finish in 1981. She coached 20 NAIA All-America and Academic All-America student-athletes while developing Pirate volleyball into a national power.
She was honored as Coach of the Year in 1981, 1986 and 1988, and inducted in to the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1990. Additionally she served as president of the NAIA Volleyball Coaches Association and represented the NAIA on the U.S. Olympic Volleyball Committee for the 1982–86 Olympic Quadrennium.
Dr. Munt was appointed Director of Athletics at Southwestern in 1995. By that time she had been at Southwestern 20 years, and had earned the respect of the staff, faculty, students, and community. She was known for her competitiveness and desire to win, but she also had a reputation for fairness and her philosophy for supporting all sports. “Every one of our sports is equally important. I’m a huge proponent of raising women’s athletics, but at the same time being true to our men’s programs.”
Dr. Munt has dealt with plenty of major challenges over the years. One of the biggest challenges came with Southwestern’s move to NCAA Division III athletics in the early 1990s. Although it was the right decision for the University, it also meant the end of athletic scholarships at Southwestern. This led to uncertainty and several challenging years. How would recruiting change? What would this means in terms of our long-term athletics program? She teamed with Dr. Carla Lowry, who was the Athletic Director at that time, to reassure staff, former and current athletes, and alumni — all while encouraging prospective students that Southwestern would continue to offer a highly competitive program as well as a stellar academic education. In the 25+ years since transitioning from NAIA to NCAA Division III, Southwestern has built a model Division III program comparable to the model NAIA program that the University had prior to 1992.
Another major challenge in Dr. Munt’s career was the decision to bring football back to Southwestern. Southwestern disbanded football in 1950, and was without a team for over 60 years. A lot of factors played into the decision, but finally in the fall of 2011 the Southwestern University Board of Trustees voted to reinstate the school’s football program.
Developing a football program from scratch is not an easy feat, but there was no better person to lead the charge than Coach Munt. She knew Southwestern inside and out, and had the respect of the entire Southwestern community. “I knew it would take the entire University working together in order to be successful.” She vowed that “if we are going to do it, we were going to do it the right way.”
The Athletic Department developed a specific timeline and began hiring coaching staff in 2011. Head Coach Joe Austin arrived on campus in February 2012, and from then on it was full speed ahead. They had to hire an entire coaching staff, recruit players, purchase equipment, and even find a location to play. It was an intense and challenging time, but they were dedicated to doing it the right way and finding the right players.
“When we recruit, we are not only looking for highly skilled athletes, but also for high academic achievers. They need to value Southwestern as a university, and recognize the academic value that our program brings. We want our student-athletes to choose the University first, and the athletic program second.”
This philosophy is one of the reasons SU athletes consistently have a higher retention rate that non-athletes. “Over 90% of our athletes are satisfied with their experience as student-athletes in our program. They develop a strong team bond, learn leadership skills, and leave with the skills to build a successful career.”
Our football team is one example of excellent success; however, we have almost 500 student-athletes that participate in 20 sports, and I’m proud of every one of them.
Dr. Munt has worked hard to build a culture of inclusion and support. “We don’t have 20 little islands. Our coaches are involved and know what’s happening in other programs.” She encourages her staff to support each other, and they often come to each other’s games or events. An example of this camaraderie was shown in the fall, when head baseball Coach J.C. Bunch was spotted at a home soccer game, cheering on the Pirates with his baby son happily strapped to his chest in a Baby Björn. “We show up for each other. We’re a true family.”
What’s next for Southwestern Athletics?
“I’m not one who lives in the past. I always believe in honoring our past, but I really love our future,” Dr. Munt says. “Southwestern certainly has a bright one under the leadership of President Burger.”
Her goal is to continue to raise the level of competitiveness of all SU athletics programs. She encourages her coaches to aim higher than conference play, even higher than regionals. She believes Southwestern can be a national contender across multiple sports.
It’s that competitive spirit that still drives and inspires her daily. She brushes off talk of retirement. “I’m still hungry, and want to continue to see Southwestern evolve and compete at the highest levels. My volleyball team finished second in the nation—I want to see a national championship in one of our sports come home to Southwestern!”