On Friday, Jan. 2, Latimore announced her plans to retire in June, 20 years after becoming the first female athletic director at Elizabethtown in 1995. Prior to her start at Etown, Latimore was at Division II Clarion University in Clarion, Pa., where she spent four years as an Associate Director of Athletes for the Golden Eagles.
“In the spring of 1995, I was meeting with a student in my office at Clarion University and the phone rang,” Latimore said. “It was former Etown President Gerhard Spiegler calling to ask if I would be interested in interviewing for the athletic director position at Etown. I said yes, and the rest is history.”
Latimore’s career in college athletics began at Juniata College as an Assistant Director of Athletics and Head Coach of basketball, field hockey and tennis. The Huntingdon, Pa. native is a member of both the Juniata College Sports Hall of Fame as well as the Huntingdon County Sports Hall of Fame.
Since joining the Blue Jays’ family in 1995, Latimore’s tenure includes reintroducing the sport of men’s track & field, and adding women’s track & field. Etown added men’s and women’s lacrosse in 2002, increasing its varsity athletic program offering to 22.
Most recently, Latimore and President Carl J. Strikwerda worked together on Etown’s behalf to become the Landmark Conference’s ninth full-time member in July 2014.
“Five institutions in the Landmark Conference (Drew University, Juniata College, Moravian College, University of Scranton and Susquehanna University) were former Middle Atlantic Conference members, so we knew them well and had great respect for their institutions and athletic programs,” Latimore said. “Rejoining those schools, along with Catholic University, Goucher College, and the United States Merchant Marine Academy, has given Elizabethtown the opportunity to compete against and affiliate with colleges that are very similar in terms of philosophy, admissions and academic standards, and resources. It is a great fit for our Blue Jay program.”
Latimore oversaw a lot of improvement and construction of new facilities for its student-athletes. In 2001, the college finished building an outdoor track & field facility that has hosted multiple conference championship meets, completed ‘The Nest,’ which is home to the softball team, and installed lights at Ira R. Herr Field. The baseball team has called Kevin Scott Boyd Memorial Stadium home since 2004 when the $1.3 million project was completed. The ‘Jay Walk’, which included new office space for coaches and administrative staff, hall of fame and trophy displays and a link between Brossman Commons and Thompson Gymnasium, opened in 2009. Wolf Field, home to the field hockey and lacrosse teams, was added during Latimore’s tenure, and was upgraded to include new spectator seating in 2014.
Latimore worked hard to bring national championship events to Etown’s improved facilities and succeeded in bringing the 2010 NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championships to Etown, and will serve as host of the 2015 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships this March at the Giant Center in Hershey.
Consistency has played a huge factor in the success of Etown athletics during Latimore’s tenure as Athletic Director. Seven current head coaches have held their positions for at least 10 years. Included in those seven are men’s soccer Head Coach Skip Roderick and men’s basketball Head Coach Bob Schlosser, who have been with Latimore for her entire 20-year career at Etown. Former head women’s basketball coach, Yvonne Kauffman, worked alongside Latimore for 17 years before Kauffman retired after the 2011-2012 season.
“One reason that Blue Jay Athletics has been so successful through the years is that we haven’t had a lot of turnover in our coaching staff,” Latimore said. “We’ve had highly-successful coaches like Yonnie Kauffman, Bob Schlosser and Skip Roderick anchor the department for more than 25 years each, and we have several other outstanding coaches who have been with us for 10 or more years. Not that many athletic programs can say the same.”
Through the consistency in coaching at the college, Etown has won 75 team conference championships since 1995. Of the 75, 13 of the conference championships were won by the men’s cross country program, which rattled off eight straight Middle Atlantic Conference Championships from 1999 to 2006. Women’s cross country and women’s tennis are tied for second during that span with nine team titles each, and men’s indoor track & field has taken home seven conference championships. Competing in its first Landmark Conference Championships this past fall, the men’s and women’s cross country teams swept the titles, Etown’s first two Landmark Championships.
Etown has competed well on the national level as well during Latimore’s tenure. Over the 20 year period, the Blue Jays have made 54 team appearances in the NCAA championships, with the men’s basketball team reaching the national championship game in the 2001-2002 season, and the women’s soccer team advancing to, and hosting, the 1997 NCAA Division III Final Four.
Along with the numerous team successes, Etown has also seen many individuals compete on the national level. Most recently, Blue Jays alumni, Kevin Clark, took home the NCAA Division III Indoor Championship in the pole vault in 2007, becoming the first individual national champion at the school since women’s tennis star Beckie Donecker won in 1982.
The athletic department that Latimore has helped to build over the last 20 years has earned 13 top-100 finishes in the Learfield Sports Directors Cup standings, with the institution finishing a program-best 66th in 2012-2013. The Cup is made up of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today to recognize the nation’s top well-rounded athletic departments.
Latimore has represented the school and the conferences on numerous occasions, including representing the Middle Atlantic Conference athletic directors on the conference’s strategic planning, hall of fame, gender equity and numerous ad hoc committees over her tenure.
Latimore is known for attending numerous games with her husband, Bill, during each season in support of her student-athletes. The family bleeds Blue Jay pride, as Latimore’s daughter, Sarah, graduated from Etown in 2011, and son, David, is currently a senior member of the men’s lacrosse team at Etown.
After nearly four decades in intercollegiate athletics, Latimore summed up her time at Etown. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my 20-year tenure at Elizabethtown. It is a special campus with many special people. It has been an honor leading Blue Jay Athletics, and I am very thankful that I have had the opportunity to work with so many extraordinary student-athletes and coaches.”