BY MICHAEL RAY
Bridgewater College's Athletic Liaison mentoring program is designed to enhance the integration of academics and athletics. The Athletic Liaison serves as an academic mentor to the student-athlete within the athletic arena, and will be able to experience and understand the balance required by the student-athlete to achieve success in both their academic and athletic endeavors. Bridgewatereagles.com will be featuring these staff members throughout the coming years.
BRIDGEWATER, Va. - Beginning the day in need of an athletic liaison, head coach John Rogers and Mark Griffin headed to the golf course to play. By the time they finished their round that day, Griffin found himself as the new liaison for the women's golf team.
"As long as I get a free golf trip somewhere," Griffin jokingly responded when first asked to be a liaison for the golf team. Griffin got that free golf trip as Rogers took him to the local course. That's all that was needed to convince Griffin, who competed on the golf team while a student at Bridgewater. Realizing the potential of the women's golf team, liking how the golf program was being built, and having the opportunity to help his friend out made the decision to become a liaison that much easier.
"Just being a support for [the golfers] and letting them know they have someone outside of the athletic realm to help," is how Griffin described his role as a liaison for the women's team. Knowing athletes don't always share everything with their coaches, he wants them to see him as another resource who is available to talk anytime, not just about athletics but also about academics, life, and their careers.
Connecting and forming relationships with people are two things that Griffin values deeply, especially with current students or potential recruits. By hosting the team for dinners and traveling to matches, Griffin has already begun to form deeper bonds with the athletes and gotten to know their interests beyond athletics. He finds one of the most rewarding parts of serving as a liaison is being able to stay involved with student athletes on campus and allowing them to get to know him as a person as well.
Beyond current students, forming positive connections and relationships is most important when trying to convince someone that Bridgewater is the right place for them. With an already small pool of participants to choose from in women's golf, Griffin uses his prior experience as a student athlete and having connections with area coaches as an advantage to build a bond and trust with individuals.
"Staying in front of recruits, whether through email, Facebook, or just stopping in to visit them at their high school when traveling down the road," allows a connection and relationship to form according to the BC admissions staff member, which makes Bridgewater more appealing for a prospective student.
Griffin is not a newcomer to Bridgewater athletics. This upcoming football season will be Griffin's sixteenth year behind the mic for the Eagles– he began announcing football games in 2001. During that same year, he started announcing men's and women's basketball games, which he did for seven seasons. Being the public address announcer for those athletic teams allowed him to form a bond with Bridgewater athletes before officially becoming a liaison.
Griffin is also in his 28th year as a staff member at Bridgewater College, where he is currently the senior associate director of admissions. In his role, he recruits the local area for prospective students, mostly the I-81 corridor from Harrisonburg to Roanoke, and supervises student delegate counselors, who are responsible for calling potential students.
Coming from a county small enough that it didn't even have a stoplight, the size and community atmosphere of Bridgewater attracted him as an undergraduate student. Recognizing the potential for the College to grow and strive influenced Griffin to stay at Bridgewater as an employee.
Outside of admissions at Bridgewater, Griffin's three biggest interests in life are churchwork within the community, traveling with his wife, and golfing. The highlight of Griffin's year is when he travels to Myrtle Beach, S.C. with the men's golf team on their spring break trip, as it allows him to get out of the house after the winter weather has forced him inside.
Getting to Know Athletic Liaison Mark Griffin
BY MICHAEL RAY