Tom Bambrey has seen Wabash College athletics continue to move in a positive direction during his three-plus years as Director of Athletics.
Bambrey, who on Wednesday announced that he was going to retire at the end of the academic year, has witnessed the transformation of Byron P. Hollett Little Giant Stadium from grass to artificial surface. By the end of his term, he would have seen a complete overhaul of Mud Hollow Field into a new baseball stadium located right behind the Allen Athletic Center.
Bambrey has watched the success of the Little Giant football team, as it has won back-to-back Monon Bell Classics and has advanced to the Division III playoffs twice during his term. He has watched a cross country team advance to the national tournament for the first time as a team in 11 years.
He also has witnesses a baseball team advance to the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament for two consecutive years.
All of the memories he has since he took over the Athletic Director position in May 2008 and since was hired to be the college’s Dean of Students in 1997 will be something he will never forget.
While he might be retiring from the college on June 30, he says that won’t keep him away from returning to Crawfordsville.
“I was happy that I made the decision (to retire), but I hope next year I will be able to be around in some unofficial capacity,” Bambrey said. “I still love being in the classroom, so maybe I will be able to teach a class or two. But even if I’m not, I will still be one of Wabash’s biggest fans.”
Bambrey knew for a while his retirement day would be coming. Bambrey, who will be 65 in September, is getting close to the retirement age people characteristically talk about. About a year and a half ago, the college also offered a buyout program because of the recent financial downfall around the country. Bambrey, who was just coming off brain surgery, had to have his decision made by the end of August 2009.
He decided to accept the buyout offered by the college.
“These last three years have been very gratifying,” Bambrey said. “We had the Allen Center upgraded about 10 years ago, and now we have the outdoor facilities at Wabash either complete or on course to being complete. Hopefully that will attract more students to come here for our outdoor sports.”
Bambrey graduated from Wabash in 1968 where he was a three-year letterwinner for the track and field team. After being the Dean of Student Life and Co-Curricular Education at St. Lawrence University in New York since 1993, Bambrey was hired by Wabash president Andy Ford to become the Dean of Students at Wabash.
“I never thought I would be back at Wabash, but working here has been the highlight of my career,” Bambrey said. “This college really helped me out when I was a student, and now I have been able to help them out on the other side of things.”
Bambrey sees Wabash athletics headed in a positive direction as he enters his final five months in his Athletic Director term. He sees a basketball team that is as good as Wabash has had in many years. He also sees a swim team under the direction of second-year coach Steve Barnes that is producing national qualifiers.
He also sees the college having some young, dynamic coaches such as track and field coach Clyde Morgan and cross country coach Roger Busch.
“With young coaches of their caliber, we have taken some strong steps forward,” Bambrey said.
Bambrey already has thoughts of what he wants to do with his free time after June 30.
“I’m going to continue to work on my golf game and get in better shape,” Bambrey said. “Being here a lot of evenings and weekends, there are things you want to accomplish that you just don’t have time to. There are a lot of books that I would like to read that I haven’t read and there are books that I have read in the past that I would like to read again.”
Bambrey also will be on the search committee to find a new Director of Athletics.
“I have a feeling that we are going to get many good applicants,” Bambrey said.