March 28, 2013
Welcome Home Mel
By David Boyce
A little over a week ago, Mel Tjeerdsma walked into his press conference and saw many familiar and kind faces.
Before Tjeerdsma uttered a word about becoming the athletic director at Northwest Missouri State, he knew he made the right move.
“It really reinforced my decision to do this because the press conference made me so aware of just how awesome the people are at Northwest,” Tjeerdsma said. “They really are genuine people and they care about Northwest. They want what is best for the school and the community.
“We are excited to be part of that again.”
When Tjeerdsma says we, he is including his wife Carol. Family is very important to Tjeerdsma. Family is one of the reasons he retired as football coach after the 2010 season.
He moved to Sherman, Texas, so he and his wife could be closer to their grandchildren.
Obviously, Tjeerdsma enjoyed his time in Texas. Tjeerdsma, though, wasn’t quite ready to fully retire.
“I was a little frustrated,” Tjeerdsma said. “I’m just not happy if I am not doing something.”
Anybody who saw Tjeerdsma when he returned for homecoming last fall could sense the bug to return fulltime to a college campus again had bitten him.
“I had some opportunities to get back into coaching,” Tjeerdsma said. “I thought that was what I really wanted. I was offered two different head coaching jobs. I thought if they offered it to me, I was going to take it. They offered and I didn’t take it.”
So Tjeerdsma was at home when Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski called him.
The conversation went like this: “He said this is going to be a key hire for us. He said I would like to call you on occasion and talked to you about some candidates and get your input and stuff like that.
“I said sure, I would be happy to. He just kind of laughed and asked, ‘You are not interested.’
“I said, not at all. That was it.”
After going through the process of finding the next athletic director to replace Wren Baker, Jasinski came back to Tjeerdsma.
“We sat down and talked and got it all worked out in a couple days,” Tjeerdsma said.
It is funny how life works. When Tjeerdsma was on campus last fall for homecoming, he would have never envisioned that he would become the athletic director at Northwest before the school year ended.
Baker was doing a solid job at Northwest, so good that he was offered a position at Memphis, which he took.
“Wren and I really became good friends,” Tjeerdsma said. “I really liked him. He did an awesome job while he was here.”
Now Tjeerdsma will settle into Baker’s office on April 8th and begin his new job.
“I never thought to look in his office,” Tjeerdsma said. “I know where it is at. I think I will find my way there.”
Tjeerdsma has a sly sense of humor that endears him to everybody he comes in contact with.
He couldn’t help but laugh when football coach Adam Dorrel’s name was brought up.
“My biggest concern was I need a locker in the locker room,” said Tjeerdsma, unable to hold in the laughter. “AD has three so he is going to give me one of his. We will have a good time.”
Oh yes, Maryville is once again home from Tjeerdsma. He couldn’t be happier.
“Sherman is a community of 90,000 and Austin College is in the middle of it,” Tjeerdsma said. “Austin College is a great school. The people in that community appreciate Austin College, but there is no ownership like Northwest. It is not even close to what we have in Maryville. In Maryville, everybody takes ownership.
“When the Bearcats are playing, that is the focus. Everything that goes on at Northwest is a focus in Maryville and that is what makes it special.
“It is not only the people of Maryville; it is the whole Northwest region of Missouri. We have a great alumni base and our alums are really loyal and they want the best for this school.
“It is the people, no doubt about it. Coming back Tuesday and then Wednesday at the press conference, it just makes you that much more aware of just how special the people are here. They are just really good people. They care so much about Northwest.”
The transition should go smoothly. Tjeerdsma has only been away for a little over two years. He knows nearly all the coaches and they know him.
“I think that is a tremendous help,” he said. “It provides me a real comfort level going in. We had a meeting with the coaches Wednesday morning before the press conference. I walked in the room and there was one assistant volleyball coach I didn’t know. Everybody else I worked with. Mark Kellogg was there, but I know Mark. Mark happens to be a graduate of Austin College.
“I just feel really good about that. I think it will make easier for me and I think it will make it easier for them because they know who I am and how I operate. It will make it an easier transition.”
As much as Tjeerdsma enjoyed winning football games, his interaction with coaches and student-athletes made working on a college campus so dear to him.
Tjeerdsma is back in that environment fulltime.
“That is a special thing, too,” he said. “People asked me in the transition the last couple of years what do you do. I miss the coaches. I miss the athletes.
“Now I’m going to have that opportunity to deal with the coaches and the athletes. I am looking forward to that. I think our coaches at Northwest do a great job at recruiting, not just the athlete, but good students and good people. That makes it easier to work with, too.”
The sentiment from Bearcat Nation is “Welcome Home Mel.”
For more information, please contact:
Media Relations Department, Northwest Athletics
email@example.com | 660.562.1118 | Fax: 660.562.1582
Lamkin Activity Center | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468