Woman of Steel

In the middle of the interview for this article, Coordinator of University Engagement Britt Daehnke ’98, ’05M came to Lisa Goddard McGuirk's office to present her with a gift for contributing to Gannon's "Superhero" University support campaign, a large action figure of Superman.

"I'm high energy, so to hit the ground running is nothing new for me."

It was a fitting symbol, both for the campaign and for the whirlwind that was her first few weeks as Gannon's director of athletics. She may not be stronger than a speeding locomotive or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but McGuirk dove into the middle of a busy fall sports season faster than a speeding bullet.

She had to. Just ten days after her appointment was announced, she was on the job. "I'm high energy, so to hit the ground running is nothing new for me," she said. "It would have been nice to settle in, but the staff and the student-athletes are phenomenal. They've made the transition very supportive."

McGuirk's background surely had much to do with her easy adaptation to the Gannon community. She came to Gannon from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa., an NCAA Division III member where she was director of athletics for the last two years.

Prior to Cedar Crest, McGuirk spent four years (2005-09) as the director of athletics at the College of Saint Elizabeth, an NCAA Division III institution in Morristown, N.J. that she led into both the North Eastern Athletic Conference and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC).

A former NCAA basketball and softball student-athlete, McGuirk has spent 11 years as a head softball coach at Cedar Crest, Saint Elizabeth, the University of Massachusetts-Boston and NCAA Division I Centenary (La.) College. She also has collegiate coaching experience in basketball and volleyball.

The coaching side of her personality emerges when she talks about initiatives that she'd like to pursue at Gannon. "One of the things we're starting to embark upon is to reach out to campus clubs and organizations to increase attendance at our home games," she said. "It's a way to generate more enthusiasm for the phenomenal job our student-athletes are doing on the court and on the field. I've heard some good ideas, but now it's time to put them into action."

Relive Lisa Goddard McGuirk’s introduction to Gannon University as the new Athletic Director.

Putting ideas into action is what great coaches do—and great leaders, too—but it's not a solitary pursuit. Great teammates are one reason she chose Gannon.

"I saw an institution and community that was supportive of successful athletics, but also has an expectation of excellence across the board, which was important to me, because athletics and academics are not mutually exclusive.

"The community is very invested in athletic success. There is such rich history here, and to be a part of that is really powerful."

Perhaps more powerful than a speeding . . . well, you know.