This week the Review sat down with Director of Athletics and Physical Education Natalie Winkelfoos and Senior Associate Director of Athletics Creg Jantz to discuss fall season highlights, mascots and pick-up lines.
What has been your favorite fall sports moment?
Natalie Winkelfoos: Hmm. Obviously men’s soccer is garnering a lot of excitement. We are very happy for them. It was really awesome when the football team beat Case Western [Reserve University] earlier this year. Honestly, anytime we claim a victory is my favorite moment. I love winning; it is so fun. There are definitely valuable lessons in losing too, however, winning is the coolest.
Creg Jantz: Winning is the coolest. Another great part of the fall was seeing all of the fun experiences our athletes had, especially women’s soccer.
NW: I mean night and day different [in their performance].
CJ: What a great hire by Natalie. The girls have truly enjoyed their season and experience and that is what is most important. They have a good time, they respect their [new] coach and have progressed all season.
NW: It’s always fun to watch the progress of our teams. Last year volleyball had a good season, but this year they are having a great season. It is fantastic to see everything starting to come together; it’s a lot of fun.
What’s your best pickup line [for recruits]?
NW: Oberlin is an easy sell. You are going to get great academics, and on the athletic front we are building new facilities, we have great coaches and great players. It’s the promise of being a part of something special.
CJ: The funny version: “Try it, you’ll like it.” The serious version: Oberlin is the true student-athlete experience. The life skills that you learn being a student-athlete are irreplaceable. We used to have a saying at Case [Western Reserve University] — when teams would lose a game the fans would cheer, “That’s alright, that’s OK, you’ll be working for us someday.” We want every athlete to be as competitive as possible on the fields, we want them to win games, but we are also preparing them for life after college; we want all of our athletes to be successful and professional.
NW: It’s legit.
If you could work in another department on campus, where would you work?
NW: Nowhere. This is the department for me. I think that being the Athletics Director allows me to work closely with a lot of different departments. I work very closely with development and Eric Estes, student life and admissions. In a way, I get to do a little bit of everything. When you work in athletics you have to wear so many different hats. You don’t just get to be a coach; you’re a counselor, an academic advisor and you’re everything. But if [President] Marvin Krislov told me that I could not work in athletics anymore, I think I would want to be the president.
CJ: Shoot for the top, I agree.
NW: High ambitions, go for the gold.
CJ: I think that I want to be the chief of staff then. Natalie and I will take this place over.
NW: Creg and I just can’t be separated, we’re like Velcro. He’s the mac to my cheese.
CJ: I think the quick answer would be to work with students, but every department in the college gets to work with students. Any department would be great because we work with students and the students are the ones who keep us young. That is what we are here for.
If you could play under one coach in the department, who would you play for?
CJ: Wow, that is a great question.
NW: Dang, let’s skip that one. [Laughs]. All the coaches have their benefits. I think it would be fun to play under [Head Women’s Soccer Coach] Dan Palmer so I could hear all the jokes at practice. I like to laugh, and I like to kick things. I would play for [Head Field Hockey Coach] Anna Baeth because I would be taller than my coach.
CJ: I like them all.
NW: We like them all and we would both play for every single one of our coaches.
CJ: I would play for [Head Softball Coach] Mimi Mahon because it would be a lot easier hitting a yellow ball than a white ball.
NW: And playing for Mimi is a guarantee to get some muscles. Hashtag Mimi muscles. It would also be fun to play for [Head Men’s Soccer Coach] Blake New because you might get to be in a cool music video the team makes.
CJ: If you play women’s basketball for [Head Women’s Basketball Coach] Kerry Jenkins you get a lot of cool t-shirts. We would all love to play for Columbus.
NW: That’s [Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach] Lynda McCandlish. We call her Columbus. Why? Because we can.
CJ: She is a two-time national champ and a state champion coach.
NW: I also would like to play for [Head Baseball Coach] Adrian Abrahamowicz because I would enjoy his references to himself in the third person.
CJ: I can’t imagine that dugout would be anything but fun.
How do you feel about being the Yeomen and Yeowomen?
NW: I love being the Yeomen and Yeowomen because we are the only ones in the world. There are a lot of Tigers, there are the [Kenyon College] Lords and Ladies, the [Denison University] Big Red, the [Wabash College] Little Giants. I want to be a Giant Giant.
CJ: I would not want to be a [Ohio Wesleyan University Battling] Bishop either leaning on [the letters] O W U. He belongs on a cereal box.
NW: I do think we need a mascot. We need something and we are working on it!
CJ: Our lips are sealed at this point.
If you could be part of a professional team, which would it be?
NW: Not the Browns. Or the Vikings.
CJ: I think I would like to be involved at the national level. An Olympic, U.S.-type team instead of the professional team to feel that sense of playing for your country.
NW: It would be amazing to be on the Olympic basketball team and be coached by Coach K.
CJ: Exactly, I would rather be a part of that experience than professional sports. The atmosphere is awesome. You walk out onto the field and there is red, white and blue all over the stadium. It’s amazing.
What are you excited for in the winter season?
NW: Watching how our teams have progressed. I think we have a lot of talent on our basketball teams. We also have a new swimming and diving coach. I am really excited to see how the team grows under him. Track and field is always fun to watch. It gives you another opportunity in a different arena to watch our student-athletes excel.
CJ: It will be my first winter at Oberlin. I am looking forward to seeing the winter student-athletes and getting to know them because you do not truly get to know the athletes until they are in season. It will be really exciting to watch our swimming and diving team.
NW: I love hearing the warm up music in my office. It blasts, and I’m like, “OK it’s game time!” as I am in here finishing up all my work and getting excited. All I want to do is run into the gym and watch them play.
CJ: Plus, Natalie is really excited to see the ball shot from a Marriott bed at halftime.
NW: And tater tot tosses at halftime.
CJ: We are going to be shooting basketballs from a Marriott rollaway bed! Fans will have the opportunity to win a one-night stay at the Marriott hotel or win a Feve burger for tossing tots.
NW: We have a lot of things cooking in here. It is going to be great.