By Mark Rossman, Sports Editor
Patricia Epps, director of athletics and recreation, has been with F&M for over 35 years and has served as the College’s athletic director since August 2007. Born in Lancaster, Epps has a long-standing relationship with the community and is deeply passionate about both the College, as well as its athletic department.
“F&M has a long tradition in excellence, in forming men and women around the world,” Epps said. “Athletics are integral to that.”
Epps also loves the way the College functions as a community.
“F&M is a family-oriented place,” Epps said. “There is a relationship among professors and administrators. We are united in our goal in doing the best for our students.”
The way Epps rose through the ranks to ultimately become athletic director is certainly unique. Graduating from Cornell University with a degree in history, Epps went back to school to earn a degree in health, physical education, and coaching at West Chester University.
After earning her degree, Epps became the director at a tennis camp. She then applied to F&M to see if there was an opening for a coaching position. She was surprised to hear what the College said.
The athletic director of F&M at the time responded to Epps, offering not only the head tennis coaching position but also the head squash coaching position.
“I had never played squash before in my life,” Epps said.
However, Epps saw many parallels between the two sports and quickly picked up the sport of squash. She learned the sport and taught it, nearly all at once.
“When you pick up a sport later in life, you actually become a better teacher,” Epps said.
Photo by Scott Onigman ’15
Epps’ coaching experience is extensive, coaching women’s squash for 22 years and tennis for over 30. Epps’ tennis team at F&M went on to make the Final Four twice and the top-10 at least eight times, with multiple All-American athletes on her roster. Her squash team at F&M was once ranked second in the country, and made the top-10 nationally at least a dozen times.
However many wins and titles Epps attained, she still remains very humble about her successes.
“I don’t think coaches win things, I think students do,” Epps said.
Epps was an extremely successful coach at F&M, but also served on multiple chair positions in both collegiate tennis and collegiate squash organizations. Epps served as chair of NCAA Division III Tennis, as well as the chair of the South Atlantic Region NCAA Advisory and ITA Ranking Committee. Epps also once served as president of the Intercollegiate Women’s Squash Association.
Epps admits at times she misses coaching, and says that probably some of the most memorable, rewarding moments of her career come from her time with student athletes.
“It’s not the winning, it’s the smaller things,” Epps said. “When a student athlete comes to you and says ‘I remember our practices everyday and if I’m ever having a bad day I think of them,’ that is the biggest compliment.”
Although Epps has been with the College for 32 years, she says she is always growing and learning new things from her student athletes.
“The faculty and administrators grow [with the students],” Epps said.
However much she loves her job, which she is not afraid to admit, Epps admits being athletic director of the College has not always been easy.
“My job is not a job, it’s a lifestyle,” Epps said. “You have to be passionate to do it because otherwise you wouldn’t do it. Running an athletic department is like running a business. When what you’re dealing with is people, you never know what’s going to happen…There is no typical day for me.”
One of the things Epps emphasizes is the importance of a great education in addition to a great time in athletics, and thinks F&M is just that.
When asked what her goal for F&M would be, Epps said, “I want F&M to be one of the premiere choices for scholar-athletes in the country.”
Epps thinks F&M is just that — a great place not just for academics, but also a great place for athletics.
“We do things the right way at F&M,” Epps said. “It’s a place I’m proud of.”
Senior Mark Rossman is the Sports Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.