Yesterday was the end of an era for Emmanuel College Athletics. Our department and the College said farewell to Alexis Mastronardi following a 16 year stint with the Saints. The next stop on her professional journey; Tufts University, where she'll assume the role of the Associate Athletic Director later this summer.
Over her career at Emmanuel, Alexis did a little bit of everything. She came on in 2001 as the Sports Information Director and a Women's Basketball Assistant Coach but over her tenure advanced to the ranks of Senior Women's Administrator (SWA), Scheduling Coordinator, Director of Compliance, Assistant Athletic Director, Associate Athletic Director, and during the summer of 2015 she climbed the ladder to the highest rung being named the Director of Athletics and Recreation. These were all just titles though because if you worked with Alexis, you knew that she really did it all.
I also wouldn't be that surprised if you didn't know about some of the things Alexis did while at Emmanuel, but that's because she's an extremely humble person and an incredible team player. It was never about her, always about her work and the Emmanuel community. She put those things before herself every single day for 16 years. So today, I'm putting her first and acknowledging all that she's done not only for Emmanuel College and our Athletic Department, but also how much of an influence she's had on myself and countless other products of our programs.
Let's start off with the fact that she was just named the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Administrator of the Year. This is an honor given annually to an AD in the GNAC following a vote by her fellow athletic directors. She earned this award after just two years at the helm of the Emmanuel athletic department and it wasn't the first time her GNAC peers recognized her outstanding work as she was previously named the GNAC Sports Information Director of the Year in 2008. Awesome awards in their own right, but in this field, being recognized by your peers is about as high of an honor as you could ask for.
But you see, the thing about Alexis is that she would have NEVER asked for either honor. If it was up to her, she'd nominate the person next to her for the award and then give the credit to the entire department. In fact, she'd done both of these things because that's just the type of person she is. Unselfish and always looking out for her team.
She earned honors on campus as well, receiving the Staff Unsung Hero Award in 2003 and 2016 as well as an Emmanuel Campus Life Award in 2005. I'm convinced she should have won the Unsung Hero Award basically every single year but she probably told the selection committee to stop considering her and recognize other people, because again, she never wanted it to be about her.
Sorry, Lex. Today is about you, but only because you deserve it more than anyone.
While she was at Emmanuel, the Athletic Department thrived, reaching new heights during a period in which the college was undergoing a huge transformation. She joined the team amidst a change from an all-female enrollment to a co-educational environment in the same year she was hired. This allowed the athletic department to grow, adding several new sports in which Alexis helped facilitate. Athletics grew from five sports to a pinnacle of 17 sports and two club teams under its wings and she was there for it all.
Lex was also there for the construction of the Jean Yawkey Center which housed a state of the art gymnasium that would become the new home for both basketball and volleyball programs.
After that, she was involved in the conversations with the city of Boston to help develop a partnership to bring a turf field into the Fenway neighborhood. It wasn't long before Roberto Clemente Field was turfed and became the new home for our soccer and softball programs while also allowing the department to expand again by adding men's and women's lacrosse.
Those are two big things Alexis was a part of that you may have known about. I bet you didn't know that Lex regularly walked the bleachers in the JYC gymnasium before home events to clean out bottles or trash left from the previous contest. I bet you didn't know that she was often the first person to inspect team locker rooms to ensure they had dry erase markers for visiting coaches or anything else they might need while on campus. And I bet you didn't know that Lex would go over to Clemente and remove goose excrement before home games to ensure that playing conditions were sanitary for our student athletes.
Lex wore many hats and wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty or be out there on the first line. It didn't matter if she was the SID or the AD, she just wanted to do what was best for our small but mighty team.
And over the years our team saw many changes, but Lex was always a constant, keeping us grounded and moving in the right direction. She was often the voice of reason with the big picture in mind. More importantly, she was a role model to hundreds of student-athletes that wore Blue and Gold, including myself.
In 2003, Alexis hired me as a student-worker to keep the official scorebook for the men's and women's basketball teams at home games. If I had to trace back to where my career path started, it would be right there, in her old office in the basement of Saint Joseph's Hall when she offered me that job.
I've been incredibly fortunate to learn under her watch for a total of 10 years now, four as a student-athlete and six as a professional. She was such a caring and kind supervisor that always made me feel important. Lex was great at making sure I was doing ok and not being overworked, which in college athletics happens all the time. She also made me feel appreciated and let me know when I had done something well. Just like on the court, positive reinforcement in our field goes a long way and it kept me coming back to the office happy and motivated.
I'm just one of many student-athletes that Alexis had an impact on. Many Emmanuel grads and former student-athletes have gone on to coach, teach and lead in the work place because they had a mentor and role model like Alexis during their Emmanuel experience.
Saying goodbye to Alexis was really tough for me. I've never known Emmanuel Athletics without her being around and I'm not sure it will ever be the same. This place has been my home since 2003 and Alexis has been a huge part of my Emmanuel family.
So today I'm taking a page out of her playbook. I'm making today about someone else, about a true professional and an amazing person. About an amazing and selfless leader. About a friend with the brightest future ahead. I'm making today about someone who I'll always admire, someone who made a difference in the Emmanuel community that I love.
I know I speak for the Emmanuel community when I say, you embody what it means to be a true Saint.
Thank you, Alexis, for everything. Best of luck at Tufts and beyond. Emmanuel will miss you dearly but as you know, you'll always be a Saint.
Dan Campagna ('07)
Director of Athletic Communications