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Fulton Rotarians hear updates about Westminster sports

by Anakin Bush | May 18, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Anakin Bush/Fulton Sun Todd Creal, interim vice president of intercollegiate athletics at Westminster College, speaks to Fulton Rotarians about collegiate sports. He said a new athletic director, Derek Zander, will start at the college next month.

At Wednesday's Fulton Rotary Club meeting, Rotarians heard Westminster College sports updates from Todd Creal.

Creal is the interim vice president of intercollegiate athletics at Westminster. He is also the head men's basketball coach and the head women's golf coach.

He said he and his family have been in Fulton for three years, and they really enjoy living in Fulton.

Creal shared with Rotarians that Westminster has hired a new athletic director, Derek Zander.

"This will be the first time that we will have a dedicated athletic director only. He will be a vice president at the college and a member of our president's cabinet," Creal said.

Zander is coming from Iowa Wesleyan University, which will permanently close on May 31 after 181 years.

Creal said the college is excited for Zander to bring his ideas to Fulton.

Starting in June, Creal will become the associate athletic director once Zander arrives on campus.

The Westminster sports department has around 350 student athletes, Creal said. The total enrollment at the college is around 650, he added.

Creal said the 2022-2023 season was very successful and was highlighted by four teams.

Women's volleyball, women's soccer and women's basketball all advanced to their conference championships.

Men's baseball "had the second best season of any baseball team in the history of Westminster College baseball," Creal said.

The team won 27 games, and advanced into the post-season tournament. The team also tied or broke 15 conference records.

"All the rest of us, we're a work in progress," Creal said. "And I will fully accept that."

He said all the sports teams are currently very active in the recruiting process, with some good students coming to the college.

While winning is important, Creal said there is more to being a Westminster student athlete than just wins and losses.

"To have the academic rigor that Westminster offers in the classroom, we want our kids involved on campus and in the community," Creal said.

He said seven of the eight "core sports" carry a 3.2 GPA or higher. The core sports are volleyball, football, men's/women's soccer, men's/women's basketball, baseball and softball.

The only sport without a 3.2 GPA or higher is football, which Creal said has a 2.8 GPA. He said this is impressive given the the size of the team.

"Our kids are really working hard in the classroom, and that's what they're there for. We want to compete at a high level, but they're there to get their education, to get their degree, and be able to live lives they want to live," he said. "...It's student athlete for a reason, not athlete student."

The college's new football stadium is nearing completion. Creal said it should be finished in about a month. A replica of the college's iconic columns will be at the stadium, but are currently on back order.

After the completion of the football stadium, the college will turn its attention to a new construction project. Creal said this will likely be for a new track and field stadium and cross country course.

Fulton Rotary Club recently organized a Charity Poker Run and Car Show. Five clubs teamed up for the event. The clubs were Columbia South, Rocheport, Boonville, Jefferson City Evening and Fulton.

The event raised money for Rotary's charitable causes, including Therapy Paws and K-9s on the Front Line.

The run began at Head Motor Company in Columbia, and then continued to Rocheport, Boonville and Jefferson City. The run finished in Fulton, where a car show was also held at Ohana Pizzeria.

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