Sitting behind a desk in his office, Bill Raleigh unveils his master plan.
The gist of his plan is simple: He wants to build an elite athletics department at Schreiner University. The tricky part remains bringing that goal to fruition.
Schreiner offers 15 varsity sports at the NCAA Division-III level. Raleigh, the Schreiner athletic director, hopes to see all those teams contend for championships at some point during his tenure.
At the moment, though, the majority of them have a long way to go before they can reach that caliber. Schreiner’s volleyball team currently sits at 2-18. The men’s soccer program has a 3-10-2 record, while the women’s soccer team is 3-8-1.
Raleigh isn’t too worried. Remember: He has a plan. And on this Wednesday afternoon, he begins to rattle off the positives. The volleyball team and two soccer programs have improved significantly from last year. The men’s basketball team is fresh off a conference championship and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Mountaineers’ track and field team will begin its inaugural season this spring. And Raleigh has already taken measures to increase the department’s footprint in the Kerrville community.
“We have great things in place,” Raleigh said. “The results haven’t been great this fall, but the building blocks are there. … The facilities are looking great. The kids are doing what they are supposed to do. My life is pretty good because there have been very little problems with them, which is awesome.
“The dots are lining up. The road is set,” Raleigh continued. “Now, it’s following through to get the next big goal, which is getting a bunch of W’s.”
Before entering the administrative side of athletics, Raleigh coached basketball at Southwestern University for 14 seasons. So of course, he knows that recruiting is the lifeblood of any strong college program. And he also acknowledges that recruiting at Schreiner can be a difficult endeavor. The Mountaineer coaches can’t just recruit good athletes, they also have to search for kids who are academically driven and are also content to spend four years at a small college in a small town.
Raleigh has urged his coaches to adopt a wholistic approach to recruiting. So far, he has liked the results. For example, volleyball coach Alyssa Hanley signed a strong freshman class that already helped the Lady Mountaineers win two more games than they did last season. And she’s currently working on bringing in another strong group of players.
“It’s finding those needles in a haystack, finding kids who check all of our boxes,” Raleigh said. “There’s a lot that goes into recruiting, and that’s what makes it so difficult at this level. There are so many x-factors. You could have a player check three out of four boxes and it still turns out to be a bad recruit.
“It’s a long process, but it’s something that when you get the right fit, it’s fantastic.”
Another goal of Raleigh’s master plan is to increase Schreiner’s visibility in the community. He’s already making progress in that department. He’s helped introduce the community pass, which grants a family of four admittance into any Schreiner athleltic event for only $40. He’s worked with Fitness First Sports, a local retail store in Kerrville, to outfit all of Schreiner’s sports teams. And in November, Schreiner will host a high school basketball game between Ingram and Our Lady of the Hills. In the future, Raleigh hopes to organize a holiday tournament for local high school teams.
But he is aware that the best method to attract local attention is through winning.
“People want to see a winner,” Raleigh said. “If you win something, people are going to get excited about it. We have to take care of that on our end. Internally, we have to focus on getting better.”
Raleigh is confident his department will do just that. He believes in his coaches and his student athletes. Right now, the plan is watch them continue to develop.
“It’s been a great challenge,” Raleigh said. “I wish we could get to the finish line a little quicker, but I am excited about the progress we are making. We are right on the cusp of great things, and I am just trying to be as patient as possible until we get to that point.
“It’s little steps right now, but I think the payday is going to be fantastic.”