June 15th, 2021
Tony Hoops has been named the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Athletic Director of the Year for 2020-21, and will be formally recognized by the conference later this summer.
“I’m extremely humbled and honored to receive this award, voted upon by the amazing network of athletic directors we have within the KCAC,” said Hoops.
“This year was challenging for us all, so I’m extremely grateful for all of their support and dedication to the conference this year.”
Bethel President Jon Gering, Ph.D., spoke to Hoops’ deep commitment to the college.
“He cares about its mission and employees. He wants it to succeed, and that is evident in what he says and does,” Gering said.
“Among his strengths and accomplishments are his positive attitude, his ability to build culture, [his] identifying [of] the needs of his direct reports, innovation in all areas of athletics, and responding to change. It is a fitting and a well-deserved honor, and we are blessed to have Tony at Bethel College."
“Tony is so deserving of this award for his accomplishments with Bethel College athletics and his leadership to the KCAC in his role as chair for our Governing Council and responsibilities with the 2020-21 Return to Play Task Force,” said KCAC Commissioner Scott Crawford.
“I have enjoyed seeing Tony share his talents over his tenure as the Bethel College athletic director these past four years and look forward to continuing to work shoulder to shoulder with him to advance conference strategic initiatives in the coming years.”
Hoops guided Bethel’s athletic department through the COVID-19 pandemic and played a crucial role in establishing safety protocols and guidelines for student-athletes, coaches and spectators.
Bethel saw all its teams complete their regular seasons despite the challenges COVID-19 presented, and the Threshers as an entire department put together one of the most successful years ever.
Bethel captured regular-season conference championships in competitive cheer, men’s basketball and football, with men’s basketball also winning the KCAC tournament championship.
All three teams qualified for their respective national championship series, as did women’s basketball for the first time in program history. (The men’s team won two regional bracket games to advance to the NAIA Round of 16.)
“What I will remember most about this past year,” Hoops said, “is how a group of people who committed to improving the culture of Bethel athletics three or four years ago got to experience one of the greatest years of results in Bethel athletics history.”
Hoops went on to say what he appreciated the most from this past school year, stating that “the most rewarding part of the year was to see the pure joy on the faces of all those connected with Bethel athletics during a challenging year of life for everyone.
“I’m so thankful I was able to experience this with a staff that includes some of the most genuine and appreciative people in the world.”
Thresher Athletics finished the year with 18 total NAIA All-Americans, 89 individual All-KCAC honorees and 83 KCAC Scholar-Athletes – all numbers that represent the most seen in at least the past decade.
Bethel had seven of its programs recognized as KCAC Teams of Character, the most by a single department in the 2020-21 school year – softball, men’s soccer, women’s outdoor track and field, football, competitive dance, golf and volleyball.
“This award is truly not possible without my dedicated administrative support staff and our amazing coaches who have recruited such phenomenal student-athletes to Bethel College,” Hoops said.
“I am incredibly thankful for all their work, commitment and loyalty.”
Under Hoops’ leadership, Bethel athletics is a three-time (thus far) NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star Gold department.
He has overseen the continued growth of the department’s booster club, as well as the addition of women’s flag football as Bethel's 19th varsity program.
Hoops earned AD of the Year honors in his fourth year leading the department and becomes the first Bethel AD so recognized since Diane Flickner in 2009-10.
“The past four years have been professionally the most rewarding years of my life,” Hoops said. “It's amazing the transformation that our staff has accomplished together.
“I want to thank President Jon Gering for his amazing support and guidance, along with past President John Sheriff for his belief in me as a young administrator.”
Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel ranks at #14 in the Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor’s Colleges” and #26 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest, and earned its third-straight NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star Gold Award, based on student service and academic achievement, all for 2020-21; is Zippia.com’s highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates; has the #10 RN-to-BSN program in Kansas according to RNtoBSN.com; and is #57 among 829 U.S. colleges and universities named by lendEDU.com as “Best for Financial Aid,” as well as #23 “Safest College Towns in the U.S.,” ranked by lendEDU.com for 2020-21. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu
In sports, Bethel competes in the 13-member KCAC and the NAIA. Josh Booth