By Edmond Ortiz
According to Dr. Brian Wickstrom, Cardinal fans have good reason to be excited about the future of UIW athletics.
Wickstrom, the University’s new athletic director, was named to his post just a few weeks before the start of the 2017-2018 school year. While he might be new to the Cardinals, the Nebraska native has a long history in collegiate sports. He spent the last four years as athletic director at the University of Louisiana-Monroe and previously worked at six other universities. He holds degrees in educational leadership, sports administration and business administration/finance from three universities.
“The opportunity to come to a great community like San Antonio, be part of the Incarnate Word [and President Dr. Thomas] Evans’ vision of where the university is going, [and take] a program through Division I — it was all something that appealed to me,” he said. Wickstrom is known for promoting a comprehensive positive student-athlete experience and is eager to help Cardinal athletics reach new heights. A former Kansas State University athlete, Wickstrom takes seriously the “student” part in “student athlete.”
“Incarnate Word is a great academic institution and it gives us a chance to recruit student-athletes at the highest level – who want to be at the Division I level but also want to receive a great education,” he said. Part of fostering that positive experience means finding opportunities to enrich it. At UL-Monroe, he spearheaded numerous facility improvements despite challenges. Basically, the word “no” is not in Wickstrom’s professional vocabulary.
“One thing I learned at Louisiana-Monroe is when people say it’s never been done before, it didn’t mean it couldn’t be, it just hadn’t,” he said. “I think it’s really good motivation. With everybody working together, things can be done that haven’t been done on a campus.”
Thanks to team playing, UIW athletics is undergoing its own metamorphosis. This year, the University has become eligible for Division I play. Wickstrom said former athletic director Mark Papich and Dr. David M. Jurenovich, UIW vice president for enrollment management and student services, laid the groundwork to get University athletics into Division I.
“As we build facilities and increase operating budgets, I think our kids will have more success in the regional and national level, which will bring great exposure to the institution,” he said.
“We’re going to find our niche, but our niche is going to involve giving all of our sports the opportunities to compete for conference championships,” he said.
Wickstrom said he, wife Celina and their five young children all feel blessed to live in the country’s seventh-largest city, and be involved with an expanding athletic program that is surrounded by a growing buzz in the community.
“I think everybody wants to be part of the success,” he said. “This is an opportunity to get engaged.”