MONTECITO, Calif. - Westmont Athletics has announced significant changes to its leadership structure. After 13 years as head coach of the Westmont Baseball program, Robert Ruiz has been named the new Director of Athletics. Dave Odell, who has served in that capacity in a part-time role since January of 2009, will become the new Executive Director of Athletics.
"Dave Odell has been an amazing athletic director and a great friend," said Westmont President Gayle Beebe. "He has never shied away from tough issues, he’s insisted on excellence and he’s done it all while being guided by our twin commitments of rigorous academics and deep love for God. Dave’s tenure as athletic director will be the standard for all athletic endeavors at Westmont. I’m pleased Dave will continue in his new role as executive director of athletics."
In his new position, Odell will focus on athletics strategic planning, fundraising and coach development. He also plans to continue his work with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
"While always full of unique challenges, my time as director of athletics has been truly joy filled," said Odell. "I’ve always believed that the teamwork and individual self-sacrifice that makes one successful is developed well in the college athlete experience. To add the missional aspect of developing Christian faith and commitment really made this particular opportunity at Westmont so special. I could not be happier that President Beebe has made it possible for me to continue working toward our long term goals as an athletic program.
"My first hire as athletic director came not long after I started, when I asked Robert Ruiz to join Westmont and turn around our baseball program. The program was not thriving and had actually been considered for elimination a few years earlier. Robert essentially saved the program through his commitment to leadership and character development.
"Robert has demonstrated that he has the blueprint for how we want all of our athletic programs to flourish. He has established himself as a strong leader in our department for several years. Robert was an easy choice to assume leadership over the day-to-day, full-time athletic director responsibilities as required as part of our application for NCAA Division II membership. I am excited to see how Robert will advance Westmont’s athletic department and lead our transition."
"I am delighted Robert Ruiz has accepted the role as our new director of athletics," said Beebe. "During his time at Westmont, Robert has transformed our baseball program into the excellence-pursuing program that is a hallmark of everything Robert does. We look forward to his leadership and service in this new capacity and we are grateful for his commitment."
Ruiz took over the reins of the baseball program in the summer of 2009. In the previous eight years, the program had averaged less than nine wins per season. Since then, he has transformed the program into a perennial top-25 team and a postseason contender. This year, the program reached the NAIA World Series for the first time in program history. He leaves the position with a record of 397-263-1 and has coached numerous players who have gone on to play professionally.
"It has been an incredible honor and privilege to lead the Warrior baseball program over the last 13 seasons," expressed Ruiz. "I have been blessed with lifelong relationships that were forged through hard work, sacrifice and dedication to the building of this program. I am so grateful that Westmont took a chance on a young coach without much experience in 2009. This job has most certainly changed my life for the good.
"There is something so rewarding about being a part of something bigger than yourself, knowing that you’re leaving it better than it was when you got there. Westmont baseball has been that for me and I am humbled that God has allowed me to be a small part of something that has rewarded so many people. The future is bright for Westmont baseball and I am eager to continue to pour into its growth from this new role."
Regarding his new responsibilities, Ruiz shared, "I look forward to the opportunity to lead the Athletic Department at Westmont College. I am eager to work with a very skilled, dedicated and motivated group of coaches and administrators to continue to develop our athletic program as we prepare for our next chapter.”
"I have been quite fortunate to work under Dave Odell and learn from him. I hope to continue the tradition of excellence that he has established in my time as baseball coach and associate athletic director. I expect to continue to live out the mission of the college in our athletic programs, develop resources for our coaches and student-athletes, and prepare our department to successfully navigate the transition to NCAA Division II if we are accepted into the provisional membership process.
"I would like to thank Dave Odell for mentoring me as a coach and as an administrator. I look forward to working alongside him in this new role. I would also like to thank President Beebe for his support and for entrusting me with this important leadership role.”
"Lastly, I would like to thank the countless student-athletes that I have had the privilege to coach. I have had a front row seat to witness the transformation that happens in the lives of our student athletes and I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to continue to impact their lives through the work we do in athletics."
Odell also expressed his appreciation for those he has worked with as athletic director.
"I want to thank our coaches and staff whose ability to manage their particular programs without micro-management allowed a part-time director of athletics to focus on initiatives that could move the needle for the whole department. Kirsten Moore has been associate director of athletics since prior to my tenure. My partnership with her throughout has been a true blessing and I could not have had any meaningful success without her wise counsel and endorsement of my leadership.”
"Alex Nizet, Westmont’s assistant vice president of major gifts, has been a strong partner when it has come to developing a more competitive budget through donor development for scholarships and athletics resources. He and I have shared a similar vision for athletics at Westmont. His advocacy with alums and the community is a real asset in our advancement.”
"Finally, I am thankful for the trust that President Beebe has in my leadership for our athletics program. His encouragement and wisdom as we navigated athletics within the larger context of Westmont’s mission has made anything I achieved in this role possible."
Westmont's search for a new baseball head coach has already begun.
(Article courtesy of Westmont Athletics).