We all know that the athletic department consists of the Athletic Director, Assistant Athletic Director, trainers and a plethora of coaches. However, there is one position in particular that many students and athletes are unaware of. The position is that of Faculty Athletic Representative (FAR). Her Campus Clark sat down with Holly Dolan, a Clark professor in the Education Department and the resident FAR to find out more about what the position entails.
How long have you been a professor at Clark?
I have been teaching at Clark since the fall of 2001.
What is your favorite class that you teach at Clark?
I always enjoy teaching my Ways of Knowing: History class for the elementary MAT students. They leave having learned a lot about what it means to be an effective educator in an urban setting. I like to think that it sets them up for success as they continue in their yearlong field placement. They always enjoy our field trip to Old Sturbridge Village. It’s an opportunity for them to experience a field trip from ‘both sides of the desk’ as a student AND as a teacher.
(Holly and her MAT students at Commencement)
This is your 3rd year acting as the Faculty Athletic Representative. What are your duties?
The FAR position is really whatever you want to make of it. At the very minimum FARs sit on the athletic board and check in with the Athletic Director about how things are going in the Athletic Department. I like to think that I have jumped in to the position at many different levels. I currently coordinate a mentoring program where I pair a faculty or staff member from outside the Athletic Department with each of the athletic teams. I want them to know that there are other adults in the Clark Community who are invested in their success as student athletes. I also mentor the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams and I chair the Athletic Board. I try to attend as many competitions, meets and games as possible. Lastly, I meet regularly with the Athletic Director, Trish Cronin, to check in with her and help out in any way that I can.
What does the Athletic Board do?
We meet a few times a year to address any needs and/or issues that come up for the Athletic Department.
Has the position changed over the years? If so, how?
For me, the position has deepened over the past 3 years. I started out a little unsure of what I should actually be doing. Fortunately there were a lot of suggestions on the NCAA website for FARs. During my first year I was asked to sit on the search committee for the new Athletic Director (AD). That was an incredibly informative experience. I learned about the vision that the new AD has for Clark athletics as well as the struggles she faces. Last fall I helped the AD host a ‘First Friday’ that is a time for Clark employees to gather for a social afternoon, which they had never hosted before. We held it on the deck of the Dolan overlooking the soccer field and it was a huge success! Many people from all over the campus came. I have definitely become more involved with the coaches and the teams compared to my first year, too. Now, I speak at the opening meeting for all athletes when they come back to campus each year. This year I also participated in a panel for parents of first year student athletes. For the first time this year I have been sending emails about important athletic events to my fellow faculty members. I’m not sure what they think about that! But I want them to know that their students are involved in so much more than fulfilling class responsibilities. As a faculty we should be proud of all they accomplish both in and out of the classroom. In short, I’m pretty much up for anything that will help the Athletics Department.
What is it like being a team mentor?
I’m getting to know my mentor team better and better. I recently helped host a pasta party on the evening before their first meet this year. I made 150 meatballs and cooked 7 boxes of pasta! One of the swimmers hosted it in her off-campus apartment. I never would have anticipated doing something like that 2 years ago.
How does your experience as a former swimmer help you to understand what the needs of student athletes are?
I think that I understand what it’s like to juggle the demands of practices and meets with schoolwork. I get that the athletes are juggling a lot and are committed equally to their sport and their education, and I try to advocate for them as best I can.
What is your biggest piece of advice for student athletes?
If you’re struggling, ask for help. There is a huge support system at Clark—coaches, administrators, faculty, residential life—take advantage of it to help you through the challenging times.
What is your favorite part about being the FAR?
I love getting caught up in the excitement of the moment at athletic events. This year, our volleyball team has had an amazing season! I really didn’t know a lot about volleyball before I started as FAR. Now, I even tell David Angel what is happening on the court!
What is the most memorable moment from your years at Clark?
Dropping my daughter off at Dodd to start her first year.
Thanks, Holly! (Fun fact: Holly is also our CC Kelly’s mom! They are pictured below at the Midnight Breakfast during finals week. Holly served up food with the Athletics Department and made sure to grab Kelly to take a photo!)