Highlighting Hanover: Rachel Slade Sharpe ’13

Rachel Slade Sharpe '13

Athletic Department / Head Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Coach

Rachel’s discipline/operational role:

Rachel Slade Sharpe ’13

My responsibility as the head men’s and women’s track and field coach is to provide student athletes the opportunity for a positive experience and climate in which they can achieve their academic, athletic and personal goals. Along with developing student-athletes, our coaching staff hosts several cross country meets and a home track invitational each year in which we organize hiring officials, ensuring equipment is safe and ready for competition and that our facilities look top notch! In recruiting, coaching and being a meet director, all NCAA DIII rules and policies must be followed – especially since we have to take a yearly recruiting NCAA exam! All in all, my job is to recruit and retain student-athletes that are willing to grow and push them to maximize their full potential in their track and field events and in the classroom!

Why Rachel does what she does:

My goal as head coach for the Panthers is to be a welcoming, enlightening and informative voice to build the track program of academically and athletically prosperous student-athletes. Working in higher education allows me to work with young people who may not have known college was possible for them, let alone being a college athlete. Education, of any kind, of any level, needs to be accessible to students to further better and enrich their lives. From working in admissions, alumni relations, and now coaching, I have seen the prosperity education can provide to students who may not have gone to college under their “normal” circumstances. However, because I met them at a college fair or at a track meet and gave them encouragement and an opportunity to see that college is possible, they now are working jobs and pursuing graduate degrees that are changing the world we all live in. I have a passion for education and for sharing with students what higher education can do for them, the doors it will open and the opportunities to try something new. For some students, it’s not always a direct path of a four-year college, grad school and then job. Sometimes its one year at Ivy Tech, then finish at Hanover, maybe a gap year before grad school, and every path is perfect for each student. My job is help guide them and keep them on their path, whichever path it may be. I also love working with students on how to be a good person, how to be accountable and how to step up and do the right thing when it is the difficult thing to do. I ask all my athletes, “What is your why?” My why is to show students that higher education is possible, affordable and will ensure the outcomes they are pursuing while gaining life skills, friendships for life and endless new adventures.

What working at a liberal arts college means to Rachel:

Working at a liberal arts college allows me to experience the “ah-ha” moment in my student-athletes’ eyes when 2-and-2 come together for them. For example, when they realize the philosophy book they read their freshman year is coming into play with their KIP senior thesis. Or, even once they graduate and have a job, they will call me to say, “ I get it!” They’re understanding what their professors were teaching them is now applying to their daily job responsibilities, because they know how to critically think, write well and verbally express their approval, disapproval and ideas or delegate tasks. A liberal arts education opens so many doors to graduates because they are capable of “all the things” needed to perform any task given to them. Working at liberal arts college grants me the ability to showcase all the diverse courses and travel abroad opportunities and that you can mix and match programs to be a major/minor, (or a double major, double major/minor or major/double minor) because the student-athlete I’m recruiting wants to go pre-med, but loves Spanish and wants to travel, but also wants to get that psychology minor – they can do it! The power of the liberal arts! As a coach working alongside professors and the Gladish Learning Center to ensure my athletes have the best chance for success is the most meaningful experience while working at a liberal arts college. If it weren’t for my experiences at the liberal arts college I attended, the good, the bad, and the ugly, I wouldn’t have had the “ah-ha” moments when traveling the world, meeting new people, figuring out the best career path, and it all came down to the compassion I had from my professors, admission staff family (while I worked as a student ambassador), the development office workers I became close to, and coaches. It takes a village to watch a student grow and develop in their time at Hanover College and what it means to be a liberal arts college is to have everyone work together!