June 23, 2009
Santa Clara University announced Rusty Weekes '71 as the Bronco Bench Foundation Director last week. He will also serve as an Assistant Athletic Director in his roll with the Bench. Founded in 1962, in recent years the BFF has focused solely on scholarship funding for student-athletes.
Weekes (RW) met with the website late last week to talk about his excitement for the job, to look back at his days as an athlete and coach at Santa Clara and why the Bronco family is one of the best. Get to know Rusty Weekes a little better by reading more about him below!
SCU: Welcome back Rusty! When you first saw the opening for the BBF Director, what initially excited you?
RW: What initially excited me about the position is it is a career move that would allow me to return to a place that I have a passion for. If there is one thing I would share with today's students it would be to follow your passion and do what you love. Everything else will take care of itself.
SCU: We'll go back a few years first and then return to the present day. You are a graduate of Bellarmine College Prep. Any fond athletic memories with the Bells?
RW: I have great memories of my time at Bellarmine. The first person I met, Dan Pastorini, has been a best friend for 46 years. We were roommates at both Bellarmine and Santa Clara. I also loved the competitive atmosphere that was a big part of Bellarmine. It wasn't just about athletics. You competed at everything. The debate team had to win, the student newspaper to be the best and of course academically we all wanted to excel. I learned lessons that have served me well to this day. I also played for some wonderful men. Bob Fatjo, John Hanna, Bob Mazzuca, Rich Frietas, Tony Pelosi and Bill McClintock were all special people and positive role models.
SCU: You moved onto Santa Clara in 1967 where you played two sports. The baseball team went to the NCAA Tournament all four years and the national semi-finals in another sport. What are some of your favorite memories as an athlete at Santa Clara?
RW: I have many wonderful memories, but certainly playing for coach Sal Taormina was a great learning experience and a lot of fun. Beating the San Francisco Giants twice in three years was fabulous; in 1980 beating UC Davis and then Northern Michigan in the NCAA Division II bowl game was a cherished memory.
Personally, being named a captain of the 1971 baseball team and following great captains like Leo Ripo, Hank Mott, Jim Caviglia and Bill McMonigle was a tremendous honor and one that I will always treasure. There were many funny moments and one of my favorites involved having Bill McPherson as my freshman baseball coach. As we took infield before playing Stanford, whom we didn't like and they weren't exactly fond of us, Coach Mac swung and missed at the first three fungos he tried to hit. The first miss was a surprise, the second, "we've never seen anyone swing and miss during infield", and the third, we were laughing so hard that he called off infield. I also loved the friendships that developed with all the volunteer football coaches, and I still laugh at some of the great memories that were shared with the other full-time coach Ken Allen. For me athletics has been the common thread that has led to a lifetime of wonderful friendships.
SCU: You have a lot of fond memories of Pat Malley. Please give us a couple!
RW: I have many memories of George `Pat' Malley that I would love to share, and yet there is one memory that speaks to all that he meant to me. I had just started coaching full time at Santa Clara for Pat when my son George "Pat' Weekes was born. We had no money and were somewhat embarrassed to have anyone but family see our `dream house'. One Saturday morning I got a call from Coach and he said,"Carmel and I are coming over to see the baby". They stayed about an hour and after they left, we returned to Patrick's room and on the baby's dresser was a check for $1,000. I am still moved when I think about that time and it will forever be my favorite memory of `Coach.'
SCU: You sound like you have a lot of special memories in your time at Santa Clara. How can those translate to your being the new BBF Director?
RW: The importance of passion, competing, hard work and winning. None of these qualities has anything to do with talent. If you have talent, but none of these qualities, you will fail; and if you have some talent and choose to have these qualities, you will succeed. I also believe that you create your own reality. If you talk about passion, hard work, competing and winning then that is what you will bring into your life.
SCU: Do you have a message for current student-athletes and those graduating this month? Or those Bronco student-athletes from years gone by?
RW: It is not the responsibility of some to secure the future of Santa Clara athletics, it is the responsibility of everyone. If you have been privileged to have played at Santa Clara, then it's because someone has sacrificed to give you that opportunity. There are many ways to give back. The choice is yours!
SCU: Speaking of college students, you have two college graduates yourself. Tell us a little about your `children'.
RW: I have two wonderful children. Pat graduated from Stanford and lives with his wife, Karin, and my two grandsons in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. He is the lead writer of video games for Bioware, a Canadian company owned by EA (Entertainment Arts).
My daughter Kelly, born on St Patrick's Day, is an attorney. She attended Marquette Law School and now works and lives in St Louis, Mo.
When I called them to tell them about this position, they had the same reaction: `Dad, you are the happiest when you are talking about Santa Clara. This is the perfect job for you!' It's really nice when your children tell you how they feel and are genuinely happy for you.
SCU: Your nephew attended Bronco Basketball Camp last week. Both you and your sisters graduated from Santa Clara so there is quite a bit of legacy here. How has your nephew enjoyed camp? Can you talk a little about a few of your own memories from working camps at Santa Clara?
RW: My nephew had a great time and it is fun to have someone else who can sing the Santa Clara fight song at family gatherings. I loved the coaching camps and the kids were always fun. There was always drama of some kind and I think we all took a collective sigh of relief when all the campers returned home safely.
My two sisters went to Santa Clara. My older sister, Margaret, '69 was here when I was a student (and I was remarkably immature) and my sister, Monica, `82 was here while I coached (by then I had matured to just immature). I don't think it was any coincidence that they both used different last names while they were here.
I also have a brother, Terry, who played soccer at Santa Clara and is in the Athletic Hall of Fame. I have a sister-in-law, a brother-in-law and several other family relations that are SCU alums.
SCU: OK, now onto the BBF Director position. You worked in the field of sales and marketing for years. What will you bring from that arena to the world of college athletics? How well does your experience play on the fields and courts as opposed to the boardrooms?
RW: It is still about winning, competing, having goals and of course having fun. Success in the business world is about sacrifice, being unselfish, having goals, not quitting when things are difficult, being prepared and having a great attitude. There are many fundamentals in the boardroom that translate well to the athletic world. For example everything we do involves sales. We need to teach skills, monitor results, acknowledge excellence, celebrate wins, protect the brand, know your audience and listen to your customers.
SCU: Curveball question. What game are you looking most forward to this year?
RW: I can't name a single game I am looking forward to the most. I can tell you the games I will enjoy the most are the games that we beat Saint Mary's (big smile).
SCU: One last question - the website will give you plenty of chances to talk about your vision in the next several months, but can you throw us a morsel or two on your plans? Especially your outreach to alums in Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, etc.
RW: One of the most significant lessons I have learned running sales and marketing organizations is, know the landscape before you formulate a plan. That being said, the message I want people to hear is that everyone is welcome, we are going create our future by honoring our past, stewardship is part of the Ignatian philosophy and is a responsibility, and we are going to have fun. We are also going to celebrate wins and raise money so that we can win some more!