Oral History Interview Transcript 1
Interviewer: Laura Gann
Interviewee: Sandy Hatfield Clubb
Monday, October 19 at 10:00 a.m.
Laura: I’m gonna just ask you to tell me your name and role here at Drake.
Sandy: uh, Sandy Hatfield Clubb, and I’m the director of athletics
Laura: ok…thank you, um, and then, um did you always grow up in Des Moines, or how did you end up in this city?
Sandy: Yeah, I um, grew up in Maryland actually and was recruited here from Arizona State. So I was the senior associate athletics director at Arizona State University and was recruited to come to Drake as the athletic Director.
Laura: OK. Was your initial career goal to work enough in athletics?
Sandy: No, uh, sport has always been part of my life ever since I was little I was pretty much swimming but I kind of did whatever. Sports were around.um but ah I went into. Do you just want me to tell you how I came into it or is that going to come in later?
Laura: Yeah, anything
Sandy: OK so um I went to… when I went to college. I really actually didn’t have any intention of going to college, um, and I was out of high school for a couple of years. And went to Texas where my, I had extended family and my grandmother. Kind of got a hold of me and she paid off my car and paid my first year tuition. My first year room and board and my first semester tuition. And, like literally enrolled me in college like she said “you’re going to school”. So I went to University of Texas at El Paso. And at that time. I had stopped swimming for about three years and um, so I started swimming again. In college not for the university but uh just actually just to get activity credit, for me
Sandy: I took this swimming class, actually I thought it would be a blow-off class for me (Laughs) and then I got involved in swimming again. And I started working for the pool and I started… when I graduated…I… My undergraduate degree’s in business administration. And I thought I was going to go on to work for, at that time IMB was the company to work for.
Sandy: And I thought I was going to go to work for I.B.M.and might be a big time sales person or something. But as I got to graduation I was not, um… I wasn’t enamored by that at all. And I had an opportunity… the School of Education needed an instructor. And so they hired me and paid for my graduate school so I was a research and teaching assistant. And that’s how I got my graduate school paid for. And then as part of my graduate studies I took a class in um, athletic administration. And so then I found out I could put my two passions together. You know, administration kind of comes naturally to me–the business side. And then I could put together. What I love. In sports. So, anyway. That’s when I first realized I could even make a career in athletic administration. But I really loved coaching, I started age group swimming coaching. And then I realized I really like working with college age students. So I took a job as a Division three swimming coach in uh, in Virginia at Washington and Lee University. And then, I, I didn’t love the guy was coaching under there so I took a job at Arizona State as an intern. And I was gunna do a two year internship and then go back D3 where I could coach and teach and be an administrator but I never left. Arizona State, so sixteen years later. Here, I was recruited here…
Laura: Oh wow,
Sandy: So, it was not ever…A plan.
Sandy: But something I just kind of followed my passion for what I’m doing…and… I wound up here…
Laura: Ok, cool.
Laura: um, what do you think about yourself makes you a good fit for the job?
Sandy: My personal values are a perfect fit for Drake. So, I love…. What I love about sport is this kind of insatiable drive to get better. Right?
Sandy: So we’re always trying to get better we’re always trying to beat our time we’re always trying to be the best team, you know were always trying to get better every day.So I just have this insatiable… That’s always been part of me…I just have this insatiable desire to be better tomorrow than I am today and so That is something that uh, I love and that’s why I fell in love with division one sport because that’s getting better at the highest level. So I really enjoyed coaching at D three and. We won a conference championship and just. It was so much fun. And so I thought I would go back there.
Sandy: But the reason that I loved D3 was because of the commitment to academics. And how you can do it all, you can do academics and athletics. In this kind of um, you know combined desire to be better intellectually and physically and so, at division one. I found that there’s… at Arizona State there is a huge imbalance. Everybody’s focused on how to be your best physically. And don’t forget to go to school so. It was always kind of problematic for me. Just from a values perspective. And sothat’s why Drake is such a good fit for me is that it’s…(pause) this insatiable desire to get better. Is on the intellectual side too, like we can do both at the Division one level here. And do it with integrity. So that’s why. For me thisis just a really really good fit. I just, I, I love it.
Laura: Yeah I agree, that was one thing I really liked about the…Like running here was our coaches really care about school and…
Sandy: you can do both
Laura: Yeah. Exactly…um, what’s your favorite part about this job or challenges?
Sandy: yeah, so my favorite part of the job is just working with student athletes, like that’s the part I miss. Because I got into the business because I really love coaching. And so I don’t get to work with student athletes every day. So, um, that part I kind of miss. But I look at like our whole staff here, our coaches and our staff like that’s my job to coach them and to help. Our whole…. So my excitement about the job and my challenge in the job is to have. You know all of us four hundred fifty of us working hard to be our very best together so that we become the Bulldogs that we can so. That’s my excitement about the job and it’s also the biggest challenge of my job. So.
Laura: OK, um, let’s see…Do you think it’s important to have a female role, do you think that affects the job at all?
Sandy: Yeah, so I, when I was coming up in the business I never thought that was important because I never had a female role model. And I had great male role models. And men were so helpful to me in getting, giving me opportunity and everything until had a female role model. So, the athletic director at Arizona States left and the president put an interim athletic director in for one year. And said this was gunna be one year and she’ll be there the whole entire year. And it was a woman. And it was the first time I had a woman boss. and I didn’t realize how important it was so I’ll give you a silly example. Something I actually asked her…so, because after a football game. I went down the tunnel where the team and the coaches go down and went and got in the elevator. As I started going up, a hand came in the elevator. And the coach got in—the head coach. We had just lost the game like in the last 13 seconds of the game. To a field goal. And I’m likeWhat do you say the coach.
Sandy: Well as a woman. It’s different…than you know what a guy would say right. So I did not know what to say to him, I was like. You know you don’t say how are you? You know what I mean, it’s like
Sandy: I just wanted to run out! (laughs) run out of the elevator. So like I asked her an you know, she said, she would just like put her hand like on his arm and say “tough one coach” or something like that
Sandy: which is a very feminine thing to do. Right, where a guy might not do that I don’t know what a guy would do but um, it just it just makes a difference. it a silly thing but just watching a women is critical… to have. Like gender role models. It doesn’t mean you only need like gender role models but to have any gender role models in the field that you’re interested in is very helpful.
Laura: Mhmm, Did you come up with the bulldog way was that something that you created?
Sandy: We…uh, we did that as an entire staff. And coaches, student athletes, everybody. So we were driving towards creating a touch stone … we wanted to create a…(pause) You know kind of a, touchstone for us to have firm footing. So this is how we’re gunna act this is how we’re gunna live out our values at Drake this is how were gonna, how were gonna achieve success. And so it was a whole group of, you know, our…everybody. We wanted everybody to be part of it. And so it took a year to write it.
Laura: Oh wow,
Sandy: yeah. It took a really long time. I thought it would take like a month
Sandy: and it took a year it was really hard to do. But it was really good. And it took so long because we wanted everybody’s input
Sandy: and people would wrestle with this and not want that and we just kind of debated for an entire year til we got what we want. And now. It’s been that way for five years. So
Sandy: Yeah, it’s really good. I love it.
Laura: Yeah, Cool. Are there any challenges in your personal life before coming into like you said with getting into school how did you um, I guess get the opportunities that you had?
Sandy: mhm, um, So I’ve always had people that have helped me. Like I don’t know why. But (pause) for example when I was at Washington and Lee University. I (pause) was just frustrated because I, I didn’t….um…I had a hard time coaching under the guy I was coaching with and. Um, He was really…He was what we coached. I was an assistant. Water polo coach and swimming coach. And he was a water polo coach by trade and he coached swimming because he had to. And I was a swimming coach who was coaching water polo because that was part of my job right
Sandy: And so, he was kind of threatened. And we just, it was a struggle. And so I did wanna stay. And so I was just. I would talk to some people in the business that I know. And so a friend of mine was the associate athletics director at the University of Wyoming. And we’ve been together at Utep (?) So I called him. And um, he said hey how bout, there’s this internship at Arizona State so he told me about it. So I applied. And then I was waiting, I had another job offer, I was waiting waiting because I really wanted that job. And so finally, I called the guy who’s doing the hiring I just said hey. I have another job offer I put them on hold for like weeks. I can’t put them on hold anymore. Can you just tell me, am I even going to get an interview? Like just tell me. If I’m not going to get an interview I’m going to accept this other job. If I’m going to get an interview I’ll see if they’ll hold it and if not I might have to forego that opportunity but. (pause) And he said Well I’ll be honest with you your top twelve and I’m like ok twelve’s a weird number…
Sandy: are you telling me I’m twelfth. He said yes you’re twelfth on our list out of like 150 or something. And so I said OK thanks. And I hung up. And I called my friend and I said I’m twelfth. I’m not gunna get the interview. I’m gunna, uh accept this other job and he said well wait a minute he said I’ll call them. Even though he didn’t know him, he’s like I’ll call him, I’ll tell him what I know about you and see if we can get you an interview. So he called them and the guy called me back and said hey we’re gunna pull you, bring you out for an interview
Laura: oh, wow
Sandy: so that’s how I got an interview. So when I got the interview that’s when I had to do it myself right, so. Anyway I was fortunate enough to get the job and then I’ve just been blessed along the way. You know I’ve had people that have helped me along the way. And given me opportunity and…like this job coming out here. I didn’t, wasn’t looking for it. I just had somebody that I had met along the way in my career who was the search consultant at the time. Uh, she was an athletic director… Division 3 I think…or two, athletic director. And um, Then she became a search consultant. And then I just kind of new her along, you know along the way and she just, was one hired by Drake and then she called me, she’s like you would be a perfect fit for this job…and…(pause) Anyway so she got me an interview basically and then when I get the interview then you got to do it yourself.
Sandy: Anyway that’s just how it’s kind of happened for me, I’ve just been really fortunate.
Laura: yeah, um, Do you have any skills or characteristics for other girls that You think would be helpful for them in like rising in their career?
Sandy: Yeah, So the thing that I’ve learned that is the most critical is you gotta be yourself. Like you just gotta know who you are, be really confident about who you are and just be authentic like not try to be someone else or try to be like somebody else. Now let me clarify that because I catch myself I joke like I’ll call. People that I really admire in the business when I start acting like them, I catch myself.
Sandy: do you know what I mean like you do that with friends like you really admire. You do something like I go like that (hand motion) like that’s what Megan does.or whatever.
Laura: laughs, yep
Sandy: So um, so like I model myself after people right. So I’ll steal things from other people that fit me. But it’s so important to be yourself and not try to be somebody else like just because. Like literally I’m the women in the room in our athletic department, we have a commissioner. We have 9 male A.D.’s and myself. So literally at A.D. meetings, I’m the only woman in the room. When we have…and were in two leagues, you know were in the pioneer football league, 11 schools, I’m the only female athletic director. Across both those leagues, so 20 schools and I’m the only one (pause) but, um So I cant go in there and try to act like a guy…
Sandy: you know, because I’m not. I have to go act like myself. So it’s just it’s really it’s really important to do. Cus its, and it’s as hard. especially when you’re in a, you’re the only one Whether that is because of your ethnicity because of your gender because whatever. You know it’s just different. It doesn’t mean it’s right or it’s wrong but um, you just gotta be authentic, you gotta be yourself and I think that’s where you know leadership comes from. When you do that you attract the kind of people that you want to work with. You know whether it’s our administers or our coaches. If I can be authentic then I attract people to me that I’m going to be able to work with really well and. Not that are like me, say. We don’t want a bunch of little mini me’s running around. You know but. But like me in terms of values and all that. And that’s really good if I’m modeling the values of the university right. So that’s when it works for everybody so that would be my biggest, like Just know you are. And then find your voice and be really confident in that space. Because you have something to bring to the world. I don’t know why My Space is college athletics, like you’d laugh, I like know Very little about sports like actual football.
Laura: yeah, laughs
Sandy: What plays are running, you know, what play action looks like. , you know it’s like I, I don’t know this stuff. Basketball. Same thing, Like I know what positions are and that kind of thing but it’s like I don’t really know, And I I don’t have to. The Coaches need to know that stuff. But um, So I’m not really a sports junkie. Like I don’t really know why My Space is in college athletics, but for some reason it is.
Sandy: So just find your voice and be strong in that space you know, so.
Laura: OK. My last question is just anything else that you would want to share or. What you would want this story to be about
Laura: Um, just anything.
Sandy: hmm…um (pause) Well I guess what I would add to being a woman in such a male dominated field. I walked into a meeting one time. (laugh) it was the first time it was just, all division one athletic director only meeting. And so, that’s three hundred fifty people. But there were probably two hundred seventy five people there or something and I walked into the late…and I could not believe it, they were like all white men
Laura: oh wow,
Sandy: There were a few…colored faces in there, and it was so hard to find the women. Like I didn’t realize what, how small a population we are
Sandy: in this, (laugh) were still less than ten percent I think still less than nine percent women are athletic directors in division one. And so I didn’t realize you know I just don’t think about it every day. But one of the things that I think has allowed me to be successful in this space is just knowing that when I walk into a room, It’s not it’s not good or bad. It’s just different.
Sandy: And to be strong in that space. So again, I’ll tell you a quick Story. So I was um assistant to the athletic director so in this kind of uh, a um, a staffing role for the A.D. and he had two associate athletics directors. This is at Arizona State. And so the three of them did a lot of work together and we were working on some really big projects. The Arizona Cardinals were playing in our stadium, And we were working… they want to do some beer garden or something, I don’t know, there was all this stuff, so it was just some really big project so the four of us were working together. Like almost every day on these projects and.um, So inevitably at the end of the conversation whatever we were talking about, the three of them would start talking about going to have a beer somewhere. And I just like didn’t exist…all of a sudden I didn’t even exist in the room. So one day I asked my boss afterwards, it was just me and him. And I said well, how come at the end of the day, you guys don’t ask me to go have a beer with you? And he goes… I mean not that I care about having a beer, but it’s like
Sandy: I was feeling left out right. And he said well did you ever think to ask if you could go? And I’m like…no (laughs)
Sandy: He said well, ask next time and see what happens! OK. So next time came around I said Hey can I go with you guys? And the other two guys were like Yeah! Come on, that would be great! Yeah so we go, whatever, so that night, I go over to meet them, I’m late, I’m like what am I doing? I mean I really don’t even wanna go out for a beer (laughs)
Sandy: I just wanted to be invited! Laughs
Sandy: and so, I, I go, I go in, they’re standing at the bar and, and when I walk up. They all get like really stiff, and start acting. Really weird. Like oh good, like what is, this is so weird, what am I doing here. So I kind of awkwardly walk up, and they hand me a drink or whatever and um, it’s VERY awkward. And so my boss. Kind of puts his arm around my shoulder and walks me away from the other guys and over to like this railing looking out over this little dining area and he said, uh, he said What do you think we were talking about when you walked in? I said, I said I have no idea, but his is so awkward, I need to get out of here. And He said, he said stop. He goes, think about it for a second what do you think we might have been talking about. And he motions his eyes towards a beautiful woman.
Laura: Oooh, laughs
Sandy: and I said, you were talking about her. And he says yes. And now I’m like oh my god in my head I’m like I gotta get out of here!!!and he, he says to me, he says, listen. The moment that you understand that. Walking into a room and changing the dynamic of the room is a strength and not a weakness is the moment you’re gunna be successful in this business
Sandy: And then he said to me. Don’t mistake it for power. It is NOT power. And it was so profound that he said that to me. Because you know. Again it’s not about dominating the room and all that is just knowing just like if it was three women sitting there talking and a guy walks in and then you’re like oh, You know whatever. It’s, it’s no different, and so to that point to that time. I thought it was lesser than. Right. I was lesser than. Oh God, Here’s a woman in the room, do you know what I mean?
Sandy: whatever, um and I perceived it as lesser than, not as a strength, and so, that, it was just powerful in helping me to know and understand that um, that it’s just different. And I just have to be OK in that space and let everybody feel weird and not getting caught up in that, not thinking that it’s because of me, or you know what I mean. Because of me, Sandy, me, versus me, just being a woman, it’s like oh well, deal with it, you know what I mean (laughs)
Sandy: So I just think from the position of being a woman whether it’s in a male dominated field or in any space. You know women can be most catty and tear down to other women.
Sandy: Where we have to be very careful of that and you know, put our hand like as we rise up we’ve got to make sure to put our hand down and take people with us. Help advance other women. Because it’s just going to make the world a better place when women can take a rightful place in leadership. Um, you know there’s a lot of research right now that shows that when you have thirty percent or more women at the table for. You know whether that’s on a board of an organization or in senior leadership or whatever that those organizations are far more successful than those that are all male dominated or significantly male dominated. And it makes sense.
Laura: yeah, more of a balance,
Sandy: yeah. It’s just you know women think differently. They bring something else to the table that men don’t bring. So why not embrace that, and you know. So,. Anyway I don’t know if that’s helpful Laura, But…
Laura: yeah that is really helpful. Thank you.
Sandy: yeah, yeah