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Athletic director leaves SMC

Letter to the Editor | Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saint Mary’s College lost an outstanding role model this fall – athletic director Lynn Kachmarik. Lynn stepped down from her position, but it is a move that should not go unnoticed. Lynn had quite a career before she came to Saint Mary’s College, and the College and student body were fortunate to benefit from her experience and leadership. Lynn knew what it was like to be an athlete. Lynn was a four-year All-American in water polo at Slippery Rock University (SRU) from 1976-80, as well as an All-American on the SRU swim team. She was a member of the United States Women’s National Water Polo Team from 1976-88, serving as captain for six years. She was selected to the All-World Team in 1978. She competed in three World Championships and seven FINA World Cup tournaments while on the U.S. team.Lynn also knew what it was like to be a coach. At the collegiate level, she was named women’s swimming coach at Bucknell University in 1982 and in 1984 was appointed assistant coach of the university’s men’s water polo team. Lynn was named head coach of the Bucknell men’s water polo team in 1986, making her the first woman to serve as the head coach of any NCAA men’s team sport. In 1987, her first year on the job, she was named Eastern Men’s Water Polo League Coach of the Year. She continued as head coach for the men’s water polo team until 1990. Lynn served as the women’s swimming coach from 1981-94 and the head men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach from 1994-98.Lynn also served as a coach on the national level. She was an assistant coach of the U.S. national water polo team from 1990-92, and coached her squad to a third place finish at the 1992 World Championships in Perth, Australia. Lynn was among the first group of women to be inducted into the United States Water Polo Hall of Fame and the first woman inducted into the Collegiate Water Polo Hall of Fame. She was inducted into the Slippery Rock University Hall of Fame in 1991. She currently serves on the U.S.A. Water Polo, Inc. Board of Directors.Lynn relocated to South Bend with her family in 1999. Fortunately for Saint Mary’s, she accepted a position as the head athletic director. The student body, particularly the athletes and workers in Angela Athletic Facility, did not know Lynn Kachmarik, the accomplished athlete and coach. We met a woman who was dedicated to advancing athletics and school pride: She established the Varsity Club, Midnight Madness, Saint Mary’s cheerleaders and Saint Mary’s mascots; she reinstituted the Saint Mary’s College Athletic Hall of Fame; she brought the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Conference 2000 swim championships to Saint Mary’s home pool – Notre Dame’s Rolf’s Aquatic Center – and directed a class-A event; she encouraged students to assume leadership roles in the College and community through the Student Athlete Advisory Council; she recruited established coaches and impressive student-athletes. The list is endless. Lynn was a leader at Saint Mary’s, continually finding new ways to involve the student body in athletics and fostering a sense of pride in Saint Mary’s athletes. She did this mainly by example, inviting us into her home and sharing her family, spending time with the athletes and coaches, listening to the students’ concerns and putting words, thoughts and ideas into action. Many of us learned through Lynn that a Saint Mary’s woman is not an outdated archetype adorned with smiles and pearls; she is a real woman who constantly works to balance family, career and self.Lynn is not a superwoman. She is a real woman, one who shows us that success is not easy, but it is attainable if you work at it. Coming from a school that prides itself on producing strong women leaders, we – the alumnae of Saint Mary’s College – are proud to have had such a leader in our midst and humbled that she gave the Saint Mary’s students the attention, professionalism and warmth that she dedicated to her other quite noteworthy endeavors. Thank you, Lynn.

Michelle Samreta, Elise Hall, Johna Graziani, Lori Smithe, Colleen Schaefers, Maureen Palchak, Ashley Dyeralumnaeclass of 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005Oct. 6