“It’s been a good run.”
That was Bill Krejci’s summary Wednesday on his 36-year association with Southwestern Community College athletics, which will officially end on Aug. 29.
As noted in a front-page story in Wednesday’s News Advertiser, Krejci is stepping down from his position as director of athletics and athletic fundraising to move to the Des Moines area with his wife, Teresa, who recently announced her resignation from Southwestern to accept a position at Drake University.
Teresa begins duties as vice president of finance at Drake on Aug. 11.
“For 28 years Teresa has allowed me to stay out here (Southwestern) until 10 at night. I coached two sports for a time, and she never blinked,” Krejci said. “For years she has supported me in my career and I really appreciate that. Now it’s my turn to support her.”
Krejci knows there was speculation when Teresa’s new position was announced that he would retain his SWCC position and commute to Creston. That’s not feasible, he said Wednesday.
“I’m not doing that to Teresa, leave her by herself like that at night,” Krejci said, “and it’s not fair to the school. I need to be here 7 a.m., and sometimes at 10 o’clock at night if need be. If I’m living in Des Moines, that’s just not what you do. No way was I even going to consider that.”
Krejci arrived at Southwestern in 1978 as assistant director of student activities, physical education instructor and head baseball coach. He came to SWCC from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Mo., where he played baseball for the Bearcats from 1971 to 1973.
Krejci served as an assistant for the Bearcats baseball team while he completed his graduate studies, earning his master’s degree in education in 1976.
Krejci coached the Southwestern baseball team for 22 years, and succeeded Ron “Fox” Clinton as men’s basketball coach for eight years after Clinton became head coach of the women’s basketball team. Among his successors as men’s basketball coach are Steve Forbes, now assistant coach at Wichita State University, and Bill Taylor, currently SWCC vice president of instruction.
In September 1999 Krejci resigned as head baseball coach and became athletic director/fundraiser at the college. During his time in this role he has increased fundraising for athletics by establishing two annual events — the athletic fundraiser auction and the SWCC golf tournament — as well as establishment of the Southwestern Athletic Booster Club.
Those sources, as well as other events, annually generate more than $50,000 for athletics.
“When I gave up my teaching to free up some teaching opportunities for coaches we were hiring in 2009,” Krejci said, “I still wanted to be involved and the college still needed an athletic director and fundraising. We were growing quickly. When I came here we had four sports. Now we have 13.”
Athletic programs added at SWCC during recent years include cross country, drill team, golf, sports shooting and track and field. He served two years as head coach of the Creston High School baseball team in 2007 and 2008, guiding the Panthers to the state tournament in 2007.
The Chicago native said he has never seriously entertained thoughts of leaving Southwestern and Creston, until the recent opportunity was presented to his wife.
“There was never a day when I’ve not wanted to come to work in 36 years,” Krejci said. “Things didn’t always go the way I wanted them to, but I never seriously contemplated leaving Southwestern. And to be honest, I never thought I would leave Southwestern unless something happened to me physically, or they fired me.”
Over time, Krejci said fundraising gained support throughout the community.
“Ever since I came here in 1978, I’ve seen the town embrace the college and me as an individual,” Krejci said. “I have hundreds of really good friends. I can go to people in town and nobody ever says no. It’s always, ‘Sure, Krej, what do you need?’
“The support through the administration, staff and faculty here at the college has also been more than I ever imagined when I took the job. Fox (Clinton) took a chance on a guy with no head coaching experience, and made him a college head coach. He gave me my chance. He and Paul Somers were tremendous mentors when I first got here.”
In addition to his duties at SWCC, Krejci has been active in the USA Baseball program as a coach and administrator. He’s been an 18-year national coach, a clinician for USA Baseball camps and has served as a cross checker in the player selection process.
During the past year, Krejci has traveled to Russia for 10 days in March to do coaching clinics, and he recently returned from a three-week stint in Mexico where he served as general manager for the 12U USA National Team.
Krejci said he will remain involved in his traveling baseball hitting clinics and duties for USA Baseball after he moves to the Des Moines area.
“For the first two or three months, I’ll be getting our home ready and supporting Teresa,” he said. “I’ll take care of things she was taking care of when I was gone, so she can concentrate on starting her new job.
“After that, I’ll get more involved with USA Baseball because now they’ll be able to call on me any time of the year,” he added. “I’ll probably do a little more barnstorming with the traveling clinics, as well.”
The college will advertise for a new athletic director and athletic fundraiser immediately.
Krejci, meanwhile, said he’s excited about the growth at Southwestern, with continued expansion of on-campus student housing, and expects the athletic program to flourish, as well. He said he will always treasure the memories.
“I will miss this place tremendously,” Krejci said. “I may be leaving, but I’m leaving my heart here. It’s a physical move, but not an emotional move. It’s been a pretty good love affair.”