New AD Welcomed At Jesuit

9 Bubba Kapral

WHEELING — Rudy Yovich has been on the job for less than a week but feels right at home in The Friendly City.

Yovich is the new athletics director at Wheeling Jesuit University. The 53-year-old comes well-groomed for his new challenge, serving most recently in the same capacity at Defiance College since 2014.

“The settling in process has actually went very well. The entire campus community has been very welcoming to me, really from the moment I arrived for my interview. There are truly some fantastic people here with a passion to serve students and support athletics,” Yovich said. “With everything there is always a learning curve, but with Wheeling Jesuit there just seems to be a familiarity to me. The university is very similar in its mission to Defiance College, and personally, it’s like a homecoming because I grew up not too far from here in Midland, Pa.”

The Edinboro University grad has a clear plan of action in his new position. It is one that he has already started to implement.

“For me, I believe that relationship building is everything. So beginning to build relationships with the coaches, student-athletes, faculty, administration, friends of the program, the local community and media is paramount,” Yovich said. “It’s always been my belief that the greatest accomplishments happen when you work at the speed of trust.

“We also need to take a look at our processes to determine if we are doing things as efficiently and effectively as possible, and that we are aligning our objectives and outcomes with the vision of President (Dr. Debra) Townsley. More simply put, “are we all rowing in the same direction?”

Yovich will oversee 20 men’s and women’s sports at WJU. The latest being football, which was added this spring after much debate. It is a move he staunchly supports.

“I’m excited for the launch of the WJU football program. Coach (Zac) Bruney and Coach (Brandon) Robinson are hard at work everyday making recruiting calls and visits and watching video of prospective student-athletes,” Yovich noted. “The atmosphere of a Saturday afternoon football game on campus just enhances student life and allows us another opportunity to invite the community to WJU.”

Yovich also has high hopes and aspirations for Cardinals athletics under his direction.

“My goals at WJU are very simple. We want to recruit, retain and graduate our student-athletes, all while providing them a transformative experience,” he said. “And, we want to win conference and NCAA championships. Obviously, there is a track record of success here with what Christy Benner, Danny Sancomb and Debbie Buff, among others, have been able to do.

“We want to continue to build upon that tradition of excellence. I also want the Wheeling area to take ownership of this program. We are proud to represent Wheeling and want Wheeling to be Cardinal proud.”

Yovich and his wife, Timera, have been married for 28 years. She is a R.N. at Wheeling Hospital. They have a son, Nicholas, who is an attorney in Pittsburgh, and a daughter, Lauren, a second-year student in the optometry program at Indiana University.

Prior to his tenure at Defiance, Yovich was the athletics director at Owens Community College in Toledo and assistant athletics director at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

He earned a MBA in sports management from Columbia Southern University.

BUBBA’S BITS

Cambridge High School recently inducted its initial Athletic Hall of Fame class. The inductees were Darin Ford, Geno Ford, Bill Hollins, Tom “Tank” Moore, Adam Davenport, Bridget Mitchell George, Bob “Lefty” Henderson, Mike Ford and Dustin Ford.

∫ Former Wheeling Park all-state football player Austin Curnes has moved into the Washington & Jefferson starting lineup. The 6-foot-1, 270-pound guard sparkled in the Presidents’ win over St. John Fisher (NY) last week. Curnes is a pre-med major. Curnes played a key role in Wheeling Park’s state championship season in 2015.

∫ Jensen Caretti is primed for a much more productive season with Ohio State’s women’s basketball team. The 6-1 sophomore guard is the lone remaining member of the Buckeyes’ 2016 recruiting class. OSU coach Kevin McGuff recently said that Caretti is the most improved player on the OSU roster and that he has high expectations for her this season.

∫ Kudos to Wheeling City Council for approving $950,000 to replace the 25-year-old hockey dasher boards and build a new storage area at the venue at WesBanco Arena. The multi-purpose facility is a Friendly City gem.

∫ Dr. Gregory Merrick unveiled plans Wednesday for his 11th annual Cancer Research Classic at Wheeling Jesuit on Jan. 5-6. The event just gets more impressive each year. All told, 600 CRC participants have went on to play collegiately and 31 more in the NBA. Wheeling Central is the only school to play in every CRC tourney. The Maroon Knights will face Mars (Pa.) this time around.

∫ Westerville Central routed Eastmoor Academy, 57-28, on Friday night to improve to 2-1. Coach John Magistro’s Warhawks will visit Pickerington North this Friday night.

∫ Eeven befofre the Cleveland Indians went on their crazy winning streak they were my pick to win the World Series. Their impressive run only reinforces my pick. I still expect the Chicago Cubs to be their victims in the World Series. The Tribe’s starting pitching staff is in much better shape than a year ago.

Bubba Kapral can be reached via email at: bkapral@timesleaderonline.com