Saturday, November 16, 2013

Like Gallaudet Athletic Department? Credit goes to Mike Weinstock

In the last few weeks, Gallaudet Bison football team has garnered the attention all over the country about its undefeated season.

Needless to say, it is a good publicity for Gallaudet. Especially with Gallaudet Athletic Department. I know how much Mike Weinstock puts his energy and time in this.

When Richard Pelletier was the Athletic Director, I can tell that he is not the type of person who is willing to push for the changes that propel Gallaudet's Athletic Department to the next level. I recall having few conversations with him about the needs to change. He would say, "No money, ask IKJ." several times.

When James DeStefano took over as the Athletic Director, he said the same thing when Sandy Ewan, me, and many others would try to talk about doing things to improve all teams, weight rooms, training rooms, meeting rooms, locker rooms, sports information office, football field, track, baseball field, soccer field et al. Whenever I entered the Field House, I don't feel "collegiate gymnasium", I feel that we are in "high school gymnasium".

James said, "No money, ask IKJ." That drove me nuts. That really frustrated me and Sandy Ewan. The buck just stops with IKJ, they always said that. We would have a long conversation about what Gallaudet can be if there are someone who is willing to make changes in spite of budget restraints.

When they built a new indoor swimming pool, I remembered Sandy Ewan battling I. King Jordan about getting the pool to be on the Olympic standard so that during the summertime, we can rent the pool to hearing swim organizations. Sandy knew that by doing that, we would make some money. I. King Jordan refused. And today, the pool is not equivalent of Olympics standard. So not many organizations wanted to rent Gallaudet's pool, so we lost $$. That was the last straw for Sandy. Sandy ultimately turned against I. King Jordan. And so did I.

I remembered asking Sandy Ewan who would be the best candidate to change everything from scratch. Sandy said, "Mike Weinstock". He went on to explain that not many people liked him but you can't deny the hard facts, wherever he goes, his teams flourished. He always found a way for his program to survive & grow. I had an opportunity to work under Mike and it was just great experience. I can say one thing: Mike knew his stuff.

Prior to the Gallaudet 2006 Protests, I noticed something alarming on a website, There were some people talking about Catholic University of America (CUA) being frustrated with Gallaudet's failures to make the CAC competitive. There were fans & sports reporters at Catholic, Marymount & Mary Washington talking about kicking Gallaudet out and get some school in so that its conference can be legitimate to have 2 or 3 teams qualify for any postseason tournament. But with Gallaudet on the bottom of the conference year in and out, it does do nothing but to slow other schools' performances.

I warned some people about it back on my old blog that sooner or later, don't be surprised that the CAC will kick us out even with the fact that we are the founding member of the conference. That's how fed up they are with Gallaudet Athletic Department. Some people believed me, some did not. After the 2006 Protests, Dr. Davila came in and made a quick change - he booted James DeStefano out and put Mike Weinstock in.

But that was too late, Catholic University of America and Goucher College has announced that they will leave the CAC to another stronger conference, Landmark in 2007. Both schools cited Gallaudet as one of several factors that pulled the other schools down from making the CAC stronger. The CAC took the action on this by telling Gallaudet to get out.

Even we founded the conference, they wanted us out. They felt that Gallaudet did not make an effort to do something about our programs. So Gallaudet was dumped by CAC, just like that. Mike Weinstock had a lot of work to do and he did do it in a short time. He found the ECFC for Gallaudet football, and they eventually joined the NEAC for other sports.

Mike Weinstock did not waste his time in making things happen. He improved the Hall of Fame, locker rooms, meeting rooms, football field with new artificial turf, Hoy Field, coach changes et al. He came up with a new logo, a brand new website and so on. Each time I see him announcing something new for the Athletic Department, I go "YES YES YES!"

Again, Mike knew his stuff.

Now we have women's basketball team that went to NCAA Tournament recently. Our baseball team has improved tremendously after the hiring of Curtis Pride. Volleyball's team is always good at Gallaudet but in the last couple of years, we have advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Oh, yeah, swimming teams has improved dramatically in the last 5 years. And the best part is that when you enter Field House and/or Hotchkiss Football Field, you can feel it is collegiate level.

Mike knew that by doing the changes, this atmosphere will do nothing but to motivate its players to excel in academics & athletics.

This is why Gallaudet football team is now 9-0. Yes, the boys worked hard to reach this undefeated record. Kudos to all of them. But the bottom line is: Mike Weinstock is the guy that made everything happen. For that, he has my utmost respect. I just wish that Sandy Ewan was alive to see this as well.