Getting to Know SU Staff: Doug Ross
September 07, 2021
September 07, 2021
How long have you been at Southwestern?
I am entering my ninth year here at Southwestern. I was previously at Concordia University Texas before being named the first head strength and conditioning coach for the Pirates. After four years of developing the strength program, I was promoted to assistant athletic director in 2017, then to associate athletic director in January of 2020.
What inspired you to work in higher education?
As a former college athlete, I always had a passion for athletics. Upon graduation, I actually went to work for a major insurance company for 10 years. I began to do private coaching and training on the side because I missed the connection to athletes—so much so that my wife eventually encouraged me to leave my corporate job and open my own training studio. It was then that I began working with college athletes again and realized this was the group I was passionate about. Being able to engage with young adults and helping them develop both physically and mentally from adolescence to adulthood is truly inspiring.
What is something students would be surprised to know about you?
I think most students usually look at me funny when they ask me about my athletic career. Since I was a strength coach and fluctuated between 225 and 230 pounds, they assumed I was a football player. Although I did have opportunities to play football in college, I was a kicker weighing in at a whopping 150 pounds. My physical build back then was more conducive to running than football, so I spent my collegiate career as an 800-meter athlete on the varsity track and field team at Louisiana Tech University. When students see old photographs of me, they usually can’t believe the physical size difference—and that I actually had hair (I used to have a great mullet).
When not working, you can find me …
Cooking and relaxing. A career in collegiate athletics involves very untraditional hours, so when I do get some downtime, I enjoy spending time with my family and trying new recipes on my smoker. But my youngest daughter left for college last year, and her older sister just graduated from college, so with an empty nest at home, my wife and I plan on spending more time hiking, camping, and traveling.
If you could have a drink at the Cove with anyone in the world, living or dead, what would the beverage be, who would the person be, and why?
I would like to have an Arnold Palmer and sit down and visit with Hugh Glass. Hugh’s life was the basis for the movie The Revenant, in which Leonardo DiCaprio played the main character. I’ve always been fascinated with the early 1800s frontier, and to have an opportunity to visit with an explorer, trapper, and frontiersman who experienced so much during that time would be incredible.
Describe your dream vacation.
A dream vacation for me would be anywhere in the Rocky Mountains. I try to go every year but hope to have my “permanent vacation” there after retirement.
If you could choose one superpower, what would it be?
Definitely the ability to fly. I’ve always been amazed by flight, but the ability to do it without a plane and go anywhere at any time would be incredible. It would also be a great way to cut down on my commute to campus from Crystal Falls.
“SU is definitely an institution that changes lives for the better.”
When you reflect on your time at Southwestern, what comes to mind?
The speed at which time has flown. I still feel like I just started a year or two ago even though I’m in year nine. Also, my time as a coach was extremely rewarding. Getting to know hundreds of kids by name and on a personal level as their strength coach was truly a blessing. Even though the last group I coached has graduated, I’m amazed by the number of athletes who still keep in touch. Ultimately, this is a special place for students to attend and for employees to work, and SU is definitely an institution that changes lives for the better.
What advice would you give students today?
Once you get settled, experience everything you possibly can with campus life. Make yourself uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and challenge yourself. Your college experience is what you make of it. You worked hard and had what it took to become a student here. Now, it is up to you to grow as a person and develop the relationships that will stay with you for the rest of your life. And remember: it’s always a great day to be a Pirate!