Rockhurst Athletics Announce New Athletic Programs

Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Cheerleaders perform at a soccer game

It’s time to expand the roster — new athletics programs are coming to Rockhurst University next fall.

Rockhurst University Athletics announced this week that men’s cross country, along with competitive cheer and dance, will be offered starting in fall 2019. They are the first new athletics programs for the University since 2012.

“We’re really excited to announce these additions to our slate of athletic offerings,” said University Director of Athletics Gary Burns. “We always listen to both our current and prospective Hawks when we plan expansions of our existing programs, and we think here we have an exciting opportunity to grow and offer new experiences for students.”

Men’s cross country joins its five-year-old women’s counterpart, which Burns said has been proved to be a success since its founding.

“It’s a natural fit for us,” he said. “Cross country is a sport that is already offered at many universities across the country, including 16 of our peers in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. And in the last five years, head coach Kathy Strecker has done great work in building our women’s program from the ground up.”

Burns said not only is there interest from current RU students in the sport, but from prospective students, as well. The Kansas City region alone is fertile ground for cross country recruiting, with strong programs at area schools like Rockhurst and Liberty High School, though Burns said athletics programs attract students from across the country. Recruitment will begin immediately.

Meanwhile, the cheer and dance programs are poised to take what has been a club sport at the University for years and turn both into competition-level teams. Burns said Dawn Todd, the current coach for the club squads, will continue to serve as coach as cheer and dance transition to competitive sports, and recruitment will similarly begin immediately. In addition to the new dimension of competition, he said he believes growing dance and cheer will benefit other University sports, as well.

“We think having these squads at the higher level that competition brings will make the game day experience that much more special when they perform,” Burns said.