Maddie Arndt Named NCAA Representative For MAAC

With her sophomore year almost completed, Maddie Arndt is about to take over three major leadership roles in addition to the responsibilities of a student-athlete.

Arndt, a pole vaulter on Manhattan’s track and field team, was named both the president of the college’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s SAAC. In addition, she was appointed to represent the MAAC’s SAAC at the NCAA Division I level.

“I’m ecstatic,” Arndt said. “I can’t explain it any better because there’s no other word that I can put to this opportunity.”

As the NCAA representative, Arndt will be a voice for the MAAC student-athletes at the national level. She will work with conference representatives from the other 31 Division I leagues. As the president of the MAAC SAAC, she will report back to the conference members with the information she received from the national meetings.

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“I’ve been in leadership roles my whole life,” Arndt said, “it’s just natural for me and when I heard about this I thought, ‘I’m going to be competing against other people, what’s the chance I would get picked?’ But I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity because if I didn’t apply, I’m going to regret it.”

In addition, she will serve as the president of Manhattan’s SAAC for the upcoming academic year, taking over the position from Casey Silvestri, a senior on the women’s lacrosse team.

“She’s passionate and enthusiastic about SAAC and our mission in developing the whole student-athlete,” Silvestri said to GoJaspers.com.

One plan Arndt has as Manhattan’s president is to work with the strong community relationship Silvestri has built during her presidency. Arndt will stress the fact to student-athletes that community service is important while hoping to change their outlook on it being just a requirement.

“It can be really eye-opening,” she said, “and it’s good to give back to your community. Everyone in the Bronx knows Manhattan College and I want people to know that we’re doing this; we’re being athletes but giving back to our community.”

She also plans to build a bigger alumni connection between past athletes and current athletes with a mentorship program, hoping to develop it within the next two years and that it’ll be successful beyond her presidency.

Arndt explained that while having these positions seem like a lot, they overlap. When something works well for one school, it will most likely work well for other schools in the conference because they are all quite similar.

“I’ll meet with a lot of important people, in and outside of our conference,” she said. “I get to represent what we stand for, what we need, what legislation we like or don’t like. There’s a lot of aspects where you vote and I’m the student-athlete vote once I talk to my school and the other MAAC schools. So, it goes from institution to conference to national and I’m the liaison through all of that.”

Although it wasn’t her original intention to have multiple positions, she’s excited for the opportunity. Arndt sent in her application for the NCAA position first and received recommendations from Manhattan’s SAAC Advisor Allison Fitzgerald and Silvestri, who said Arndt was the first name to come to mind.

“Maddie is a great student, athlete and community builder,” Silvestri said. “Her recommendation was a no-brainer. I’m confident that she’ll do an amazing job and I’m excited to see what amazing things she has in store.”

Then, it just so happened that no one was going for Manhattan’s SAAC president after Silvestri leaves, which led to Arndt fulfilling this role as well.

“Everyone says this is a résumé builder but that’s not what it’s about to me,” Arndt said. “It’s about getting myself out there and doing what I love. It’s about being an athlete and trying to make a change at the same time.”

Marianne Reilly Named New Athletic Director

Last Thursday, the Manhattan Jaspers and Fordham Rams met again at center court in Draddy Gymnasium. Only this time, the two Bronx rivals didn’t come together for a basketball game, but to celebrate the formal introduction of Marianne Reilly as Manhattan’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.

“That is the beauty that lies in athletics,” Reilly said to the audience of Jaspers, Rams, administrators, coaches, student-athletes and reporters that filed into the facility to welcome a new era of Manhattan College athletics.

Reilly is a 1982 graduate of Manhattan College, a member of the first women’s basketball Division I program and the first woman to be inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

“This was a perfect homecoming for me,” she said. “It all came full circle.”

“Wow, it’s just great,” Lisa Toscano, professor of kinesiology at Manhattan and a former teammate of Reilly on the basketball team, said. “You could just see how she deserved it then and that she deserves it now. It’s continued success and it’ll be great.”

Today, she is the first female athletic director in the college’s history and the third in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

“It’s groundbreaking,” Casey Silvestri, president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee said. “We’re on the right side of history here. I know that from a student athlete’s perspective, we are very excited. She’s a phenomenal candidate.

Following the sudden departure of previous athletic director Noah LeFevre in January, the Jaspers found solace in Tom O’Connor. O’Connor served as interim athletic director and spearheaded the search for a qualified, permanent candidate for the position.

The search committee consisted of the Vice President for Student Life Richard Satterlee, trustee members Michael Passarella and Fred Marro, professor Shawn Ladda, Vice President for Human Resources Barbara Fabe and Silvestri.

The process took two and a half months, as the committee members reviewed over 50 applicants. As the list was narrowed down to just four finalists, it was Reilly who had the spark that the committee wanted.

“You heard it today,” Satterlee said. “Not only 30 years of experience, not only a firm understanding of Division I college athletics, but this special connection with the college.”

What made Reilly stand out from the other applicants was her résumé, Silvestri said. She noted all of Reilly’s accomplishments and how it was a big perk that Reilly was also the first woman to receive an athletic scholarship at Manhattan.

“She seems really invested in whatever she does,” Silvestri said. Her résumé speaks for itself. You could tell genuinely in her interviews that her heart lies with Manhattan.”

Reilly spent the past 30 years at Fordham University, where she served on the leadership team of Fordham’s athletic department.

There, she experienced the program change conferences on three different occasions, oversaw all seven of the Rams’ athletic facilities undergo extensive renovations and aided the development of many teams into conference contenders and champions.

“As different as we are, we are actually very similar,” Reilly said of the relationship between Manhattan and Fordham. “We are in New York. We are in the Bronx. We don’t have a huge footprint, so they struggle with the same challenges we do here.”

At the event, many of Reilly’s Fordham colleagues were in attendance among Jaspers to show support for a woman who made such an impact on their department.

“I think that it’s a credit to her, from what she’s about,” Steve Masiello, Manhattan’s head basketball coach said. “People from our rival school want to see her do well and wish her well here. Manhattan is bringing back a competent, successful administrator that we believe is going to take us to the next stage as far as leadership.”

Stephanie Gaitley, head coach of Fordham’s women’s basketball team, was recruited by Reilly to turn the program around five years ago. In 2014, the Rams did just that by winning the Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Championship.

“My tears today are enough to tell you how hard it was for her to go,” Gaitley said. “The happiness that I had working for her is the sadness I have now. I am jealous now of the athletes and coaches who get to work with her.”

As Reilly begins to settle into her new position, what she is looking forward to the most is getting to know the student athletes.

“That’s what I come to work everyday for,” she said. “I think there is a mutual respect there. I treat all my student athletes as if they were my own kids.”

“Being a leader of a department, getting to know the students is paramount,” Masiello said of Reilly. “That is something we pride ourselves on and I think that’s an area she’s going to excel in, especially being a former student athlete. I think she’ll have awareness to the student athlete’s needs and be really in tune with them.”

During her speech, Reilly pulled out her basketball uniform and travel bag from when she was a student athlete for the Jaspers in the 1980s.

“I’m finally returning it,” she joked to the audience.

The jersey, and Reilly herself, have finally returned home.