FAIRBANKS, Alaska - For this week's edition of Nanook Corner, we're going to introduce you to UAF's new Athletic Director Sterling Steward.
Sterling Steward Jr. was named Athletic Director over the summer after a lengthy search. The former AD at Savanah State University, a Division 1 program from Georgia, ended the Nanooks 218 day quest to find a new leader for the Department. His first official day at the helm was in October, and he has been relishing the experience of leading the State's Flagship University.
"For me, when you love what you do, there's never really difficulties. I don't see them as difficulties I see them as opportunities. The greatest opportunity I've had is the transition itself, making sure people understand that I'm here. I'm here to stay and I'm here to build this program."
Things have certainly been looking up for Nanook Athletics. The Patty Center hosted 1,600 people earlier this month for a basketball game between the Nooks and the Ruthy Hebard-led University of Oregon, certain teams have seen more success than they had in years before, new coaches have brought new energy to the department, the Patty Center has recently been remodeled for new locker rooms and weight room, and they recently received a gift of $75,000 from Usibelli Coal Mine that will go towards new facilities and equipment to provide the athletes with training and support that every top notch program needs.
"Everyone is really running high off of those pieces. Now we just have to make sure that we maintain that momentum and enthusiasm."
Now that Steward is settled in to his new role, his first big project will be to secure an apparel deal for the entire athletic department.
"We've been in discussions with all three of the big brands. They've all shown considerable interest in being here. That brand will ensure that sales are up, and it's at a reasonable price, and it's everywhere in the community so that people will want to buy."
During the press conference where he was introduced as the athletic director, Steward mentioned that this was his dream job. He now looks forward to building this program up while living the dream in the last frontier.
"It's all been one big thrill it's been one exciting moment for me. It's all running together. You asked about the weather earlier, when you're having this much fun the weather is not even an issue. I can go outside right now in what I have on and don't even think about the weather. So it's been fun."