Stephanie Kowell
Last summer, longtime athletic trainer Steph Kowell stepped into the position of director of the Blood Fitness Center and campus fitness. Communications Office writer Evan Robinson ’23 recently spoke with Kowell about her new job and career experience at Hamilton. Below are excerpts from their conversation.
How did you end up in your current role?

I’ve been working at Hamilton since 2011. I started as an athletic trainer in our sports medicine department, which was my career path to that point. In the spring of 2022, an opportunity presented itself when they began going through the applicant process to fill the vacancy left by Dave Thompson [former director of fitness and wellness]. My boss over in sports medicine encouraged me to throw my hat in the ring, which wasn’t something I’d ever fully thought about. It’s not that I didn’t love what I did in sports medicine, but this was a great opportunity to branch out. So I applied, went through the process, and the rest is history, as they say. I started in July 2022, so last year was my first full year.

How did you find the transition from sports medicine into administration?

The day-to-day work is completely different, but one asset that made it a smooth transition for me was my experience in sports medicine and athletic training. The thing I loved most was that every day was something different, so it was a lot of on-the-fly problem solving … a lot of being reactive when you needed to, but also finding ways to be proactive. It was a lot of making sure you have an organized setup, because as long as you know the people and the process in place, things will run smoothly. So I think all those skills translate to just about any career path. They are general life skills that I have carried over into this position, which just has a different face — but it’s still kind of organized chaos. I have to find ways to schedule all our athletic facilities that balance varsity sports, club sports, and intramurals, find ways to make sure we have enough room for the biggest group fitness class schedule we’ve had yet, and take advantage of all the spaces on campus as efficiently as possible.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I was definitely most intimidated, when I took this job, about executing HamTrek. In addition to everything else being new and having to learn a lot so quickly, I was really happy that HamTrek came together so well and went off without a hitch. Some people are familiar with what it used to be, a big campus-wide event, which we finally had post COVID. That was really fun, because a lot of people didn’t know what HamTrek was supposed to be: this all-hands-on-deck, in-person, campus-wide event. I was roaming around the whole day, and hearing the excitement of students who had just finished made me feel so good. By no means do I take all the credit, as I had a ton of great support. But that was a lot of fun — now I want to make it even better next year.

What changes are you looking to implement going forward?

Something we are currently working on is expanding the footprint of intramurals on campus. I came from a very sporty undergraduate school, and we had intramurals coming out of our ears. There was a program for everything. Obviously, here, that’s a little different — you’re limited by what you can do based on facility availability. But over the past year, I have been listening to students wishing we had a little bit more. We are planning to bring in more intramural committee members to expand on what we’re able to cover and initiate a bigger social media presence. That’s one of my shorter-term goals, and this semester, you’re going to see more intramural programming that will be a little more diverse than what’s traditionally been offered. There are a couple other activities people have been asking about — people are really into pickleball, for example, and we’re looking to bring that into the rotation. So we’re excited to work on developing a bigger intramural presence this year. 


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